Following on from my successful campaigns for the Shuttl Dockable Wallet & the Oak Bark Leather Belt, I'd love to craft you a beautiful belt with a unique, eye-catching buckle design modelled on my 19th century Fire Brigade vintage original. The prototypes for these have proved to be real talking-points.
As usual, there will be no short-cuts taken - your belt will be hand-made from the finest English oak-bark tanned bridle leather with solid brass buckles & fittings.
Introducing The Firefighter Belt
I make high-quality leather goods so when I came across this old leather belt with an unusual buckle at a flea market a few years ago I couldn’t resist buying it. I was intrigued as to its original purpose & set about doing some research.
Fortunately the buckle had a maker’s stamp reading ‘Morris Salford’. My research showed that John Morris & Sons of Salford, Manchester, England were a leading manufacturer of all types of firefighting equipment from the late 1800s & into the 20th century.
The company were highly conscious of the fact that speed is of the essence & that every second lost in the early stages of fighting a fire is crucial. With that in mind, they came up with these innovative buckles that could be used to hold fire hoses firmly in place but which could be released in a fraction of a second, saving valuable time.
It’s believed that firefighters would sometimes fit these cool-looking buckles to the belts they used to hold up their trousers.
I've decided to bring this look back to life by having the buckles faithfully recreated. I’ve now managed to locate a traditional foundry here in England that can make these unique buckles for you by sand-casting them in solid brass. I’ll then turn them into belts using the same fantastic oak-bark tanned English bridle leather that I use for all my belts.
Incidentally, although the buckle has a quick-release feature, it can also be fastened & unfastened in the usual way just like a normal buckle. That's how I use it - although if you ever do need to undo your belt in a hurry, the option's there! It's also a great talking-point with an interesting back-story.
Want to know more?
Backers of my previous projects already know that the leather goods I produce are designed & made to last. The leather & hardware used are always of the highest possible quality. Team that up with my handmade, old-school construction methods & you’ve got a recipe for a product that will go on forever.
So...what does it take to make the best looking, longest lasting belts?
• Great leather, tanned using oak bark in a very long, slow process
• Solid, foundry-cast brass fittings
• Thoughtful design
• Skilled craftsmanship
1. Great leather
I use the finest of full-grain English bridle leathers. Tanned in Britain’s last remaining traditional tannery using oak bark & river water in a long, slow process that results in light, strong, beautiful leather. This really is the best belting leather I’ve ever seen. If it was a car it would be an Aston Martin. Backers of my previous belt project already know first-hand how great this leather is but, for those who'd like to know more, I've added a video & more details lower down the page.
2. Rugged hardware
Buckles & fittings used are solid brass, sand-cast & hand-finished in a traditional foundry here in the UK. Super-strong & great-looking, simple and honest. None of those cheap, brittle zinc alloy buckles used in most belts available in stores, whose plating peels off and starts to look scruffy in no time.
3. Solid construction
I attach the buckles with tough, solid brass Chicago screws. From the front they look just like rivets but besides being stronger than most rivets, they’re removable, allowing for easy future changes of buckles if required, whilst avoiding the possibility of stitch holes weakening the leather or stitches wearing out or rotting away.
4. Thoughtful design
Every part of these belts has been carefully considered. From the use of chicago screws to attach the buckles & the placement of those screws, to the carefully finished edges and even the oval shape of the holes that allow the prong of the buckle to lay flatter for a more comfortable fit.
5. Skilled craftsmanship
Every stage of the making process is carried out by hand right here in my own workshop. Most belts, even the most expensive, have the edges either left raw & ragged or coated with a thick layer of rubbery goo that eventually starts to crack & peel off. It makes no sense to me when a product’s quality is compromised in the interests of saving money. I believe that great materials deserve great craftsmanship so the edges of my belts are bevelled, dyed to match and finally burnished to perfection. It’s a labour-intensive process but I wouldn’t do it any other way. No rough or raw edges here!
Three colours of leather are available - London Tan, Dark Oak and Black. These cover pretty much any shoe colour you may wish to co-ordinate with. All look great with jeans but the darker shades also work well with more formal wear. Just to be clear and to avoid any confusion, you can choose any colour, in any length and with any of the 2 buckle finishes - natural brass or nickel-plated brass.
All belts are 1.5 inches (38mm) wide. The belts come in two-inch increments. 26" 28" 30" 32" 34" 36" 38" 40" 42" 44" 46" 48" These sizes are measured from the end of the buckle to the centre hole of the five adjustment holes on the belt. This will give you two inches either way, allowing you to go up or down by 2" in waist size and still fit the belt.
PLEASE NOTE This measurement almost certainly won't be the same as your waist size or the size you buy your jeans in! This is because most people wear their trousers more on their hips than their waist and also because, if you measured yourself over the top of a pair of trousers, you'd find that the measurement was likely a couple of inches more than expected because of the added bulk of the fabric. So...in order to ensure a perfect fit first time, the absolute best way to find out what size belt you need is to measure a belt you already own and which fits you well. Go from the outer end of the buckle to the hole that you normally use. This is the measurement that we need to know. We'll make your new belt this same length, to the centre hole. If you don't own a belt that fits you, don't worry - you'll receive comprehensive measuring instructions with the backer's survey after the campaign closes.
What is oak bark leather?
Tucked away in the south west of England there’s a small leather tannery beside a river. There’s been a tannery there since Roman legionnaires were marching past, en-route to the local garrison and it’s been in the ownership of the current family for more than 150 years.
Whereas over 95% of leather produced these days is tanned with chromium because it’s fast and cheap (it’s done in one day), this tannery continues to produce leather in the same way it did some two thousand years ago.
Using nothing more than river water and sustainably-produced shredded bark from English oak trees, the tanning process takes a full 18 months from locally sourced hides arriving to finished leather leaving.
This leather is truly wonderful. The slow, gentle, natural tanning process preserves the strength of the fibres and produces leather that’s light, super- strong, great-smelling and has a beautiful full surface grain. It’s used in bespoke shoes, saddles and luggage by artisans and makers around the world who, like me, having once discovered it, won’t use anything else. It’s the highest quality belting leather I’ve ever seen but it’s worth every penny. Incidentally, because this is full-grain leather it will sometimes carry marks picked up during the cow’s lifetime. From thorn-bush scratches to mosquito bites or stretch marks, these things aren’t imperfections to be sanded away, weakening the leather as is often done. I prefer to see them as badges of honour that showcase each product's natural individuality and handcrafted nature. They aren’t flaws or faults, they simply tell a little of the story of the life the animal has led.
No matter how good the leather is, for belt use it also needs to be thick enough. Thinner belts will deform & stretch but the oak bark leather I use is between 4mm and 5mm thick (between 10 and 12oz). What does this mean in practice though? Well, the average proper leather belt you’ll find on sale is usually around 2mm and will last up to 5 years if you’re lucky. A better one will be approaching 3mm thick & might give you a decade or two of service whilst costing you as much (or more) as my Oak Bark Belt. You’ve most likely never seen a leather belt of this thickness. If you want to hang a holster from it, go ahead – it’ll handle it just fine.
Time to get down to business!
I want to make sure it's worth your while ordering here & benefiting from the economies of scale & cost savings from bulk ordering of materials that a Kickstarter campaign can provide. For that reason, I'm going to offer substantial reductions on the pricing that'll be on my website afterwards.
You can order multiples of belts in any combination of colours and sizes so if you're buying more for gifts or you're ordering together with some workmates, you'll make even bigger savings.
Free shipping is included to anywhere in the world. As I'm in Britain, Kickstarter makes me display prices in GB Pounds but I'll do my best to convert to USD at current rates.
1 Belt: £75 (approx $98 or 84 Euros) (£110 later, saving of £35)
2 Belts: £145 (approx $189 or 162 Euros) (£220 later, saving of £75)
3 Belts: £209 (approx $273 or 234 Euros) (£330 later, saving of £121)
4 Belts: £269 (approx $352 or 301 Euros) (£440 later, saving of £171)
5 Belts: £329 (approx $431 or 368 Euros) (£550 later, saving of £221)
The main limitation in production is the quantity of buckles the foundry can produce for me per week. For this reason, I propose to split shipping deadlines into ‘Pre-Christmas’ and ‘New Year’, offering a limited number of belts for pre-Christmas shipping, based on a buckle production commitment that I have already obtained from the foundry.
Weeks 1-4: Kickstarter campaign runs
Week 5: Reserve leather & hardware
Week 6: Kickstarter funds are made available to us - collect leather & hardware from tannery & foundry
Weeks 7-9: Production & shipping of ‘Pre-Christmas’ rewards
Weeks 10-16: Production & shipping of ‘New Year’ rewards
Some feedback from backers of my two previous campaigns...
- Just received mine today! omg.. SO GOOD! SMELLS REALLY GOOD!! thanks Peter for your awesome work!
- Its arrived and the finish is just perfect...beautifully made
- I just got mine it´s just perfect. Thanks Peter very nice job.
- Hi Peter, got my belts and they are perfect, thank you. Let me thank you one more time for these wonderful pieces of British craftsmanship, and I hope this is part of the beginning people will reconsider what kind of products should be supported by buying them and which kind of products shouldn’t!
- The belts have arrived, and are wonderful as promised. The look and feel are perfect, and it does even smell amazing. Very well done, and very happy as a backer.
- Got it! Simply superb! The best belt that I own.
- I could say all kind of nice things but when I opened the delivery this morning my wife asked do they make narrower belts in red leather for women? The ultimate seal of approval.
- Received my belt last week and I would say it has the best leather and workmanship in my collection thus far. Thank you Peter.
- Love it, love it, love it. I am so happy with my belt and hoping I can afford to buy them as Christmas presents.
- A big THANK YOU for those amazing belts! I love them, my wife loves them, as well as anybody I'm showing them to loves them! You did a really nice job there! Hope to see more projects from you and I'll more than certainly be a backer again! Cheers!
- Amazing Wallet, this will last me a lifetime!
- Mine arrived today in tan and it looks, feels and smells fantastic.
- Just got mine today and i can certainly agree that the quality is top notch, this is one healthy piece of leather!
- I have received my wallet today, and I must say the finishing and the quality of leather is a lot higher than I expected. This is truly a well crafted wallet and every care has been put into it's construction. I can feel this has been built to stand the test of time and years of usage.Thanks for the beautiful wallet Peter.
- I got mine today. Thank you very much. It is lovely to own a wallet of true craftsmanship and beauty. I keep taking it out to small the leather. Well done Peter and thanks again.
- Just received my wallet, and wanted to say thank you for a beautiful piece and great craftsmanship. It truly is beautiful. Makes me regret not buying a few more in different colors
- Just received mine. So far I'm loving every single bit of it, even the smell. Incredible job Peter.
- Mine came earlier in the mail today- am absolutely pleased with it. Great quality, pleasant packing and a fantastic smell of leather. Thank you so much for your hard work Peter!
- Just got my wallet today. Really, really, really happy with it. It's excellent work. Thanks so much.
A couple of extra videos showing more about the wonderful leather, the traditional tannery and the work that goes into making The Firefighter Belt.
Risks and challenges
This is our third Kickstarter campaign. Both of the previous campaigns were a great success with rewards being delivered on time, as planned and with backers being delighted with the quality and workmanship of their purchases.
The tannery has sufficient stocks for even our most ambitious projections and I have been conservative with the amount of buckles the foundry are predicting that they can produce. In addition, I have extra, skilled helpers on call should they be required in the manufacturing phase.
Unlike some other leather goods makers on Kickstarter, we are not just 'middle men' who are hands off and subcontract the whole manufacturing process to factories in the Far East or Mexico. It's little wonder that they then find themselves running into delays and suffering from poor quality control.
Instead, we collect & personally inspect the leather & hardware before hand-making the products in our own workshop and finally, packing & shipping the finished items to backers, thereby reducing the risks & challenges to a minimal level.
- (21 days)