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  • Dylan Bates

The Rugged Water-Buffalo Belt

Belts have always been a popular product here at Bates Leather Co. Before we became an LLC, we'd sit at various small flea markets and goods fairs with a table of vegetable tanned belts. Those belts are still popular because they can be dyed any color and be punched with different designs and names. A veg-tan belt blank is completely customizable. The belts you see hanging from a large truck at a fair with everyone in line to have their names punched along the back are all veg-tan belts.

Veg-tan belts, however, are not what we wear ourselves... Some people buy two veg-tan belts at a time just to get them through the year. Those who are out working all day are hard on belts, and the most they can get out of one is about 6 months. I always encourage those people to buy a belt that will actually meet their needs. Wear the belt that I wear. Wear a Buffalo Belt.

The amount of work that goes into a Buffalo Belt is not like other, cheaper belts. We start with a whole hide of water buffalo, cut a straight line along the edge, and strip out 1 1/2 inch blanks. Once the whole hide has been cut, we measure and mark the size, punch the holes, shave down the buckle end, and draw an even line along the edge. We sew that line around the entire belt so that it doesn't stretch while wearing it, then smooth down the edges with water and a canvas rag with saddle soap. Once all of that is complete, an all day job if doing the entire hide, we fasten on a nickel-plated buckle with a Chicago screw.

The end result is a rich dark belt that changes colors when you bend it, but doesn't stretch as you use it. As you might could assume, I have a rack of different belts at home, with all different colors and designs, but I wear my Buffalo Belt. To church or to work, that's the one I wear. It's one of our staple products, and one that I'm most proud of.

Pick yours out here:

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