Question... How do you style yourself and with what? A watch, a ring, shoes?
I asked myself this question recently and found there's something I don't consider at all. We style everything from watch straps to shoes, clothing to hats. We have a mixture of clothing on our shelfs. Smart shirts. Casual shirts. Sleeveless. Viscose. Cotton. But last time I looked I only have one belt.
Which I wear with everything.
From black jeans to blue, navy chinos to tan, I wrap that same black leather around my waist and bowl around town like I own the place. But then recently I began to get paranoid that people had noticed that I was wearing the same belt everywhere I went. Now, this might be that delusional narcissism that I'm prone to bouts of, but I realised I needed to do something about this.
Thus my search for my second belt began. It wasn't long before I came across Elliot Rhodes. And I couldn't be more stoked that I did.
Who Are Elliot Rhodes?
Elliot Rhodes create luxury leather belts and buckles in a wide variety of colours, textures and styles. Over the last eleven years they have become world renowned for their massive variety of handmade designs.
Whether part of their latest range, or custom made, their belts are designed in the UK and made exclusively for your own waistline. With buckles and straps that can be changed depending upon what you want from a belt, you, the customer, have the choice of width, colour and finish to suit your personal style.
Though it doesn't end with the belts. Elliot Rhodes also design items for everyday living - passport covers, purses, wallets and card holders. All, like their belts, customisable to your weirdest whim with their bespoke design service. A company that wants you to become part of the design process. I love it.
When entering the shop (I went to the St Christopher Place store), I knew straight away that I was meeting people who really knew their belts. Given the choice to have any belt my heart desired, I got a glimpse of the design process.
Elliot Rhodes: The Design Process
Size & Colour
You first choose a colour and width size, as belts have a different width to match your outfit. If you're a jeans type of guy it tends to be thicker; chinos thinner. The colours range from blue, red, black, brown, light brown, gold, sliver, white. Whatever you could dream of. The worn leather is a personal favourite of mine.
Once you have the colour you now need to choose the style; crocodile, alligator, ostrich, python, lizard or plain. Able to try each on with your outfit, it's interesting to see that certain styles which you would never consider buying straight off of the shelf aren't as garish as one might imagine.
With buckles that have been featured on both the Pirates of the Caribbean as well as top golf tours, Elliot Rhodes have an incredible selection of belts for you to choose from. With buckles made from bison horns and magnum shells, you can choose the outlandish (lions' heads, cross bones) or the traditional. Affixed by simple poppers, the buckles are easily interchangeable depending upon your mood.
Elliot Rhodes also design accessories which you can mix'n'match to your style and the belt of your choice. Just check out the wallet designs below:
If you've elected to go for the bespoke design, the consultant simply measures your waist. Mere seconds later your belt is finished and ready to hold up your modesty.
Listening to the advice of the Elliot Rhodes team, getting talked through the reasons to choose certain belts, seeing the belt made before your eyes, you get a real understanding of what fashion is all about. What goes into it, and why we make the choices we do. Speaking to Founder & Creative Director Justin Rhodes, I asked him about what drove him to focus on belts and where he gets inspiration.
Justin Rhodes, Founder &Creative Director at Elliot Rhodes
What lead to you founding the company? Did you spot a gap in the market?
I have been involved in the fashion industry since I left university and the idea for Elliot Rhodes was triggered by the fact that I was a frustrated shopper. I wanted a belt that was good quality, wasn’t necessarily black or brown and that was a bit different. Belts have always been treated as an afterthought and I believed that there could be more to it. As far as I could see, this was a product that could be reinvented and glamorised so that a belt could actually become the focal point of an outfit and be an expression of individual style. Ten years and three London stores later, we find ourselves in the fortuitous position of being able to say that we have successfully converted people to belts and we have a growing and loyal customer base that understands the importance of belts. Our customers enjoy experimenting with the plethora of colours, textures and finishes that we offer and we know that once they make their first purchase, they will be thinking about their next.
How do Elliot Rhodes belts differ to others on the market?
We are often described as a candy store for belts! We are the only belt specialist to offer premium quality handcrafted belt straps and buckles in a plethora of colours, textures and sizes that are entirely interchangeable. From the skinniest 20mm styles through to wide waist belts, every strap has different buckle options so that there are well over 800 different combinations that can be created. Each of our three London stores has in-store stylists that are dedicated to helping the customer to put together their perfect combination of belt strap and buckle to work with their own individual style and requirements. Offering a truly personal service, the Elliot Rhodes in-store stylists ensure customers are expertly guided through the multitude of choices to find a belt that expresses their sense of individuality. Thanks to Elliot Rhodes, your belt can take you from work to drinks and dinner with no wardrobe change required! Far from being an afterthought in a choice of outfit, your belt can become a true expression of individuality and style.
What does the word 'bespoke' mean to you?
There are many interpretations of the word but, in my mind, the impetus is on “personal” rather than “bespoke” as it conveys the message of the item being unique to the wearer. It is their choice, their preference and their style that is projected in the purchase that they make. We are proud to offer customers the ability to put together a combination that is theirs. From the fit to the finish, they have full charge of the selection process so that the ultimate item that they purchase has been custom-fitted and custom-selected. We also offer a full bespoke service for those that might want to create and design a buckle or belt that is not available in our stores. Whether it be a family crest or a signature object, we can help them to bring their idea to life.
Can you talk me through the 'make your own' process?
Each customer that visits one of the Elliot Rhodes boutiques is greeted by our in-store stylists whose expertise will ensure that they accurately assess the needs of the customer to tailor a selection of straps and buckles to select from. As the possibilities are endless and the selection of colours is vast, the stylists will always encourage customers to look at different styles and colours in order to ensure that they have covered all options before making their ultimate purchase. The buckles and straps are interchanged in seconds so it is a quick and easy process to mix and match for the trying-on process. The straps in-store are a standard longer length that the stylist customises to suit the wearer. Depending on how and where the belt is worn, the length of tail, number of holes and resting point for the belt loops can all be adjusted so that the finished product is a perfect fit to wear with different items.
And why is it something people should consider?
I have never set out to tell people what to wear, I simply want to help people to discover their individuality and be able to express this through their choice of belt. Our belts are of the highest handcrafted quality and are hand-finished by skilled artisans in Spain. We would encourage people to think of them as they would think of shoes, handbags or other leather goods. People are choosing to invest more in their jeans, suits and trousers than ever before as they accept that good quality items last. For this very reason, the same level of importance should be placed on the belt-buying process. Elliot Rhodes belts are like no others, they are unique, individual and can literally bring an outfit to life. The simple addition of colour alone can refresh an outfit completely. A belt completes an outfit and since we have the most extensive selection of colours, textures and widths of both straps and buckles on the market, we believe that anyone that visits our store can find the right combination for them.