This post has been a long time coming. Late last year, Jessie of Blake Goods reached out to me wanting to know if I’d be interested in trying one of her belts. I didn’t own a belt at the time (bad fashion blogger, bad!), but I was in the early stages of developing a serious love affair with fine leather goods, and so when she shared her collection and story with me, I was more than game to collaborate. I’ve been wearing her Center Bar Belt in Jet since about February, and I have a lot of feelings about it to share with you in today’s post (and please stick around to the end because I put together some really cute outfits and spent like three hours trying to figure out how to get good photos of them in my living room).
Leather is a complicated issue in the fashion world. Animal agriculture is a cruel and dirty business, and many brands are getting away from using real leather in favor of exploring faux options instead. There’s a lot to be said for the advances in materials technology that make faux leather products more and more convincing, but there are specific properties of real leather (the most important ones, tbh) that faux options, no matter how realistic they appear out of the box, will never be able to mimic.
Nobody knows this better than Jessie, Blake Goods owner and founder. As an avid equestrian, she understands leather as a unique, protective material that keeps both horse and rider safe. (Ever wonder why motorcyclists wear leather? It’s not just to look badass – it’s to protect their skin in case of a fall!) Leather is strong, flexible, and durable and it gets better with age. When she was designing her line of classic belts, Jessie put equestrian-level quality at the top of her priority list.
Blake Goods belts are designed by Jessie in Brooklyn, NY and are made in a factory in Pennsylvania that is known for its equestrian products. The leather itself if from Wickett & Craig, one of the last two tanneries in America that still use old world, environmentally-friendly vegetable tanning processes.
Here’s what Jessie says about the production of Blake Good’s belts:
“Our leathers are processed very differently – each hide spends weeks absorbing tanning agents from a proprietary mix of tree barks to slowly transform it into premium leather. US tanneries look modern, but the alchemy in their tanning vats is an ancient human tradition and still results in strong, beautiful leather that will last a lifetime, with no toxic waste involved.”
When it comes to leather, I go back to the minimalist fashion mantra, buy less, choose well, make it last. I pick classic, buy-it-for-life pieces that work with my entire wardrobe and are made as ethically and sustainably as possible. I try to support small businesses. I buy vintage. I don’t eat hamburgers. That’s my stance.
Blake Goods currently offers five styles of leather belts ranging from $85-$90. I chose the Center Bar belt in Jet because of the clean lines and the gold hardware. I actually asked Jessie about the hardware, and I want to share her answer in full because its so cool:
“The hardware comes from a US company that owns their own casting factory and is sand-casted brass, or nickel plated over that brass. Sand casting is a century-old method of forging metal. The mold for the hardware is literally made out of sand, then liquid brass is poured in and allowed to cool. The sand shakes off, then the hardware is tumbled and hand-polished to a beautiful shine. This is, again, an old-school and labor-intensive way of making hardware, but it’s very popular because it’s fairly simple and results in seamless, strong, attractive hardware.”
Having worn a Blake Goods belt for the last several months, I can really tell the difference between high quality leather and hardware and the low quality stuff you find in fast fashion outlets. I think the biggest difference is in the weight – my Blake Goods belt is heavy, and the hardware feels like it could take a hit. I noticed the same thing in the belt that I bought for my husband for his birthday. Once you’ve seen and touched good craftsmanship, it’s impossible not to notice the lack of it in inferior products.
This is now the only belt I own, and to be honest, it might be the only belt I ever own – it’s that perfect. To show how versatile it is, I decided to put together and photograph a few outfits ranging from super casual to super fancy. (And you can check out some other ways I’ve styled it in previous posts, here and here.)
Wearing with Everlane Essential Jumpsuit (gifted), BP. heeled sandals (old – wore these to my wedding!), vintage evening clutch
If you’re interested in Blake Goods, I recommend checking out their website (you can save 10% if you sign up for their email list) and following along with them on Instagram. Any questions? Let me know!
This post contains affiliate links. I received this product from Blake Goods in exchange for an honest review, but this post is not sponsored, and all opinions expressed here are my own.