What Makes This Handmade Leather Star Belt A True Headliner!
The key ingredient in a star belt or any handmade leather belt is … well, it’s the leather of course. Embrazio hand selects each hide from their friend and longtime tanner in Leon, Mexico, Miguel. Miguel is an unusual tanner in Leon as he is willing to sell in amounts as small as one hide at a time. Most tanneries require a minimum of 4,000 to 10,000 square decimeters.
(We enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Miguel and his wife Gely this past February in Leon.)
Each hide is inspected for overall quality and thickness. Hides with brands, scars, or lots of insect bites are rejected. While some may find these scars and marks authentic and attractive, they actually create points of failure in the final application. For example, if a brand or scar appears at a point where the belt is folded around the buckle, it will eventually crack and separate.
Hand selecting hides at Miguel’s tannery:
Texture is also an important element of the final belt strap. Embrazio is looking for some amount of texture but not so much that the texture becomes the focal point of the belt. It is impossible to find consistent texture across the entire hide and, in fact, unique texturing makes each belt unique.
Embrazio only uses full grain leather meaning the leather has not been cut or split in half to increase utilization. This means Embrazio belts are stronger and will last longer than belts that are not full grain. The varied textures show they are authentic and natural versus belt straps that have been split and then embossed with texture or patterns.
Embrazio’s Patented Curved Leather Star Belts
Once the premium hides have been selected, the individual straps are cut using metal dies very similar to how cookie cutters are used on a sheet of cookie dough. With Embrazio belts, these dies are shaped into Embrazio’s patented double curve. This reduces the amount of belts you can create per hide but the resulting shape is well worth the reduction in utilization.
The Embrazio curve started with a fairly simple question; “If our bodies are curved, why are our belts straight?” Co-founder, Stephanie Boyles, earned her doctorate in Topology. An area in mathematics focused on the study of shapes and spaces. She is the perfect person to transform hundreds of years of mindlessly wearing uncomfortable straight belts into a new age of belts formed to fit with the natural contours of the body.
This double curve, calculated at each size from 30” to 40” in two inch increments, creates a subtle yet significant difference in look, feel, and fit. The belt goes up and over the wearer’s hips and down in back and front. The look is more slimming and the feel is much more comfortable with no pulling or pinching. Finally, another significant but unexpected benefit is there is no “gapping” in the back even when bending at the knees.
As a final touch to the strap, each one is buffed and polished with beeswax. The edges are sanded and. in some cases, painted or dyed. This creates the finished look and feel customers desire.
After completing their first run of belts, Embrazio founders took the belt around to test it with people in Boulder, CO, their headquarters location. Those who tried on a belt could immediately feel the positive difference. At one restaurant, the owner saw the Embrazio double curve and immediately took off his belt and said, “look, I’ve been wearing this belt for 25 years and it’s taken on a shape just like yours!” Why? It’s because the body is curved and wants to shape the leather overtime to fit more perfectly, more comfortably. Embrazio just cuts its star belts that way from the get go!
The Star Belt Uses The Perforata Leather Belt Pattern
Embrazio took its pattern used to create its distressed riveted “Coperto” belts to form the basis of its “Star” belts. It’s also the same pattern of holes used to create the “Perforata” belts.
Repeating the same pattern allowed Embrazio to use the same metal dies to create the basic belt into which the stars would be attached. This sequence of 3 diagonal holes across the belt from buckle to tail gives tremendous flexibility when considering potential embellishments. With the handmade leather Star belt version, Embrazio skives or shaves the strap down for a bit more thinness before attaching the star rivets. This ensures a solid closure of the rivets so they don’t come off no matter how much wear and tear they get.
It took many visits to industry shows and individual show rooms to find the right set of stars for the Embrazio Star Belt. Proportion, shape/design, and color were key requirements for choosing just the right star. Once chosen, Embrazio experimented with different patterns and ended up with a simple single line of stars running throughout the length of the belt. They also added 3 round rivets on the keeper as an eye catching design detail.
Belt Buckles Matter
The horseshoe shaped buckle is an original Embrazio design as well. After starting with the common horseshoe, Stephanie removed the elevated “nail section” to make the form flat and symmetrical and then thinned it out to lay comfortably and eliminate any bulging in the front. She smoothed and rounded the edges for a softer look and then secured the tongue to ensure perfect centering when closed. She said the tongue of the buckle should be “like a flat snakehead” that doesn’t wobble about when open or closed.
Love It When The Plan Comes TogetherEmbrazio now provides the handmade curved Star leather belt in 3 fabulous colors; distressed grey with antique silver stars, cognac with antique brass stars, burnished brown with antique brass stars. The belt is sold in hundreds of individually owned fashion boutiques across the country and online at the Embrazio web site www.embrazio.com.
About the author: The above article was written by Scott Schaefer, co-founder – Embrazio. Embrazio is a leather and jewelry accessories company based in Boulder, CO. Scott and his wife, Stephanie Boyles, started Embrazio in 2012 and their line is now carried by over 300 retail boutiques primarily in the US.