As previously featured in the Neo Nouveau by Andrew Diba Geometric Wallet Review, Andrew Diba is a Canadian leather designer who prides himself on meticulous quality construction using the highest grade of materials. When an individual leathermaker is showcased along reputable companies such as Rolex, BMW, and LG in Sharp Magazine’s (the Canadian GQ) spring and summer fashion guide, he must be doing something right. This sharkskin belt is a fine example of an unexpected exotic leather put to good use.
The sharkskin belt is constructed over a course of several days using the same principles in all Neo Nouveau products. All imported exotic skins are from sustainable leather sources and CITES-labelled and approved. Everything is 100% hand-stitched by Andrew Diba with traditional saddle-making techniques and French linen threads. This particular belt has over 1,000 stitches and the edges are created from his personally selected French edge paint.
So why isn’t shark more commonly used in belts? The Blue shark flank leather used is maintained in all its natural grain glory; first it harvested in Mexico and then sent to Japan for tanning. Whereas cowhide stretches mostly in one direction, sharkskin is a durable leather which stretches easily in both length and width and not a standard go-to material for belt-making. The solution – three additional layers. 1) a vegetable-tanned stiffener 2) a vegetable-tanned cowhide with contoured edges for a beveled look and to help prevent stretch 3) and an inner layer of French boxcalf. The dense fibers in boxcalf leather are more resistant to creasing in frequent wear areas. The buckle is solid brass imported from Italy.
The sharkskin belt is a rather versatile belt. Coming in at 3.5cm width, it works well in both the professional and casual setting. It is surprisingly lightweight but has a certain toughness due to the inherent strength of sharkskin. There is a sense of durability since it doesn’t seem to lend itself to creasing at the same area after setting the buckle multiple times. The texture of the sharkskin feels as interesting as it looks and the inner boxcalf is soft and luxurious, gliding easily along the pant fabric. Like with his alligator leathers, Andrew Diba recommends Saphir Reptan conditioner for maintenance.
When you first take the belt out and hold it in your hands, you will realize that this belt is unlike any other belt in your collection. Yes, there is the inherent unique grain due to the choice of leather, but what is perhaps the most attractive feature is the contour detail painstakingly beveled into the belt edges such that there is a slight curve rather than a quick and straight box cut like most plain leather belts. From far away, someone points out the sophisticated crimson thread set against the dark leather the instant I turn the corner in the office. Add the word “sharkskin” and suddenly there is a great deal of uninvited, slightly awkward stroking and touching of the textured surface. Yes, there is the subtlest hint of “fishiness” if you aren’t ashamed to smell really hard against the leather. In case my olfactory bulbs were simply too excited, I did confirm it with my colleague. This may possibly be due to the specific tanning oils used, but I am happier thinking it is coming directly from the shark.
The Neo Nouveau by Andrew Diba Sharkskin Belt is not your standard belt. How much would you pay for a shark? How about a shark with 1,000 hand stitches? There is no doubt that $450 is a good chunk of change for a belt, but this piece of art will hug your waist and bring all sorts of attention to an area which is usually ignored or forgotten when it comes to luxury accessories. Some people wear thousands of dollars to tell time from their wrist. Why not spend a fraction of that to help hold your pants up in style?