A belt is another one of those items that is consistently under-appreciated. It serves such a mundane function that it is often overlooked. People notice your shoes or boots. They notice your briefcase, messenger bag, or backpack. And, they’re quick to notice your choice of smartphone case too. But, how often does someone notice your belt? Chances are not very often. Whether you choose to wear a belt made of fabric or leather, it’s just there…doing its thing…serving its purpose, going unnoticed.
So, when you find a belt that is truly a unique standout, you jump on it. And, it changes things (unless you always wear your shirts un-tucked). These two belts from Portel shed new light on belts. They’re unique and people notice.
I originally took notice of Portel on Etsy. When I’m looking at Etsy-based companies, I tend to gauge them by longevity (how long their store has been open), number of admirers, and number of sales. All of Portel’s numbers show that they’re a solid brand producing items that people are enjoying. And, they have a solid, five star review status that seems to confirm their dedication to quality creations.
Portel defines itself as a “retro-modern collection” of leather goods. Their products are designed for “those who love superior comfort, refinement, style, and individualism, without compromising strength and durability.”
Portel is based in Tallinn, Estonia on the shores of the Baltic Sea. They started their workshop in 2009 and continue to produce goods with the core idea of elegant simplicity – “for those who like to walk their own way.”
Their business card contains the phrase, “300% Pure: 100% Handmade, 100% Natural, 100% Love”. This does a great job of encapsulating everything that makes up Portel.
I received two belts from Portel: light brown buffalo leather and aged light brown leather. Both belts arrived at the same time in nice, compact packages. There are 3 pieces to each belt: a nice, aged-looking gunmetal gray roller buckle and two pieces for the belt.
Once you have one of these belts in your hands, you can feel the quality. There is an investment not only in materials, but in build time too. Portel uses Italian-sourced, vegetable tanned, high quality leather for all of its products. Each of these belts is 1.5” wide (they’re working on narrower widths right now) and adjust to 30” – 46” in length with their unique, attractive connection system. The edges of the belts are hand burnished. There is a lot of attention to detail on these belts. On the back of the belt, you’ll find four things stamped in it: the Portel logo, “Patent Pending” (not sure where they are filing for patent protection), the phrase “Handmade PortelBelt”, and “For those who like to walk their own way”.
It takes a few minutes to insert the buckle and size the belt appropriately. The unique snap together system is easy to use though and creates a stylish look. Once you have it sized, you’re ready to go.
One thing that I did initially find to be a minor annoyance is that due to the raised snap/stud system, it takes a little more time to insert the belt through the belt loops on your pants or shorts. But, I also attribute this to a little bit of a learning curve. It’s not a smooth belt, so you have to take that into consideration when putting it on. After a few times of putting it on and taking it off, it no longer was a complicated, frustrating issue.
Each belt performs admirably. To date, I have not lost my pants or shorts, so success has been achieved! Seriously though, each belt functions just as it should.
The roller buckle is nice and the belt, stiff at first, softens up quickly with use. The leather on both of these belts looks and feels fantastic. The aged, light brown version has a nice rugged appearance while the buffalo leather’s texture and feel exudes a little bit more luxury. I’ve been wearing both versions of the belt for the past 8-9 weeks. It’s difficult to choose a favorite. I seem to use the light brown buffalo leather version for those times when I’m “dressing up more” (I’m a pretty casual guy, so dressing up might be nice jeans or khakis). The light brown cow leather belt is now my all around go to belt: shorts or jeans.
Either one of these belts would be a great choice for casual or semi-casual use. Portel also features their belt in other colors too: black, red (looks more like a chestnut color), dark brown, and more. Visit their Etsy store to view their current, available colors in both aged leather and buffalo leather.
At $149, the Portel Belt, whether in aged leather or buffalo leather, is a bit more expensive than many of the other belts we’ve reviewed on BestLeather. However, given their unique design along with the high quality components, and hand crafted detail work, they are a solid buy.
Just like Portel says, “superior comfort, refinement, and individualism, without compromising on strength and durability”…these two belts will just get better with age and will last for many decades, which makes them well worth the initial price point.