A major portion of us only have one or two belts in our arsenal – one black and one brown…and that covers pretty much our entire fashion spectrum. So, choosing the two belts that will keep our trousers up and all of our long term fashion-ability tied together is critically important.
Today we’re taking an in-depth look at the J Michael Ashland Steerhide Belt.
About J Michael Ashland
J Michael Ashland is a designer and full time minimalist leather crafter. From his location in northwestern Oregon he designs and crafts all of his products 100% by hand – no power tools, no machines…at all. Currently J Michael is designing and making several types of belts, wallets, card holders, and other accessories. It also appears that he is venturing into making high quality knives (and awesome sheaths, I’m sure).
Here’s the low down directly from J Michael about his construction process that I received while dialoguing with him about his Steerhide Belt:
“The belt is constructed from USA Steerhide – a bit over 10 ounces thick. This belt was made for comfort and durability. What you have is a full grain shoulder cut from a mature bull (you can see the texture if you hold it up against the light). It would have made premium tooling leather but instead has been turned into Latigo – fully drum dyed and hot stuffed with oils to resist the elements. This belt’s leather does not require maintenance and develops a supple exterior shine.
The brass buckle is a low lead heel bar made for comfort. I like it because brass holds up well in all environments and does not corrode.
All of my belts are permanently sewn with Tiger thread (machines cannot use this). Tiger thread is U.V. coated, bonded, and waxed (originally made for hand sewing sails). On belts snaps fail, screws unscrew, and both rust, but hand saddle stitching is permanent. That is why I think this is the best belt in the world.”
Indeed, when your belt arrives and you un-package it, you’re in for a treat. 10-ounce leather is thick – real thick. It would be stiff and uncomfortable if this were just regular 10-ounce vegetable tanned leather. It would take quite some time for it to break in and become soft and flexible. But, since this is Latigo steerhide, it is pliable, supple – which is ideal for a belt.
At 1.5 inches, this belt works well with blue jeans, khakis, and most any casual/dress style pants. The buckle is solid brass and well contoured for maximum comfort.
Not surprisingly, this belt has a perfect record so far. That’s right…it’s held up every pair of pants it has been used on so far. All kidding aside, it’s a great belt to use. The flexibility of the Latigo leather used, its thickness, and that nice buckle form a perfect trifecta of purpose.
The deep, smooth black color contrasting with the silver buckle on this belt combines to create a very classy look. The quality of the leather combined with the high level of workmanship also exudes a commitment to your desire to purchase and use products designed to last. The addition of the symmetrical score lines along the length of the belt, the subtle placement of the logo, and the thick stitching further accentuate the fact that this is not a run of the mill, mass produced belt.
Whether you purchase this belt for casual use or to wear with dressier outfits, you won’t be disappointed. It will serve either purpose well.
The J Michael Ashland Steerhide Belt, with its high standard of build quality and superior components, definitely qualifies it as a Buy It For Life item. With its $70 price tag, it’s also a bargain. And, you can also get this same thick Latigo belt in brown and your choice of a brass or silver buckle. BestLeather encourages you to visit J Michael Ashland’s website and put your own order together. You’ll enjoy working with a craftsman that is so dedicated to his trade and you’ll end up with a belt that you’ll enjoy putting on each and every day.