We review a lot of nice belts, but few stand out like the Bulwark Belt from Thrux Lawrence. This is exciting, because we have been asking, “How do you improve a belt? It is a strap of leather that cinches up your pants. What is there to improve?”
The details. Improve the details.
construction & aesthetic
The defining character of this belt is the robustness. The form closely follows the function of the rugged parts. The strap is one piece of high end, 10oz vegetable tanned leather from Wicket & Craig. Vegetable tanned leather is a stellar choice for belts because of its rigidity and tough density. A chrome tanned leather belt will stretch and deform with use, but a thick vegetable tanned belt will not stretch and will resist deformation from the rear belt loop that usually ends up putting a kink in your belt.
Stitching is not necessary on a heavy duty leather belt, which is why you will not find any here. It has two hand pounded brass rivets that are more than enough to hold this belt together. The edges of hand-pounded rivets have a tendency to be rough if they are not rounded carefully, but Thrux Lawrence smooths out all their rivets. They are substantial and will probably last longer than the leather itself.
The buckle is where this belt stands out and earns the $120 price tag. You see, most buckles are cast and quite conventional. Not this one. Truthfully, we have not ever seen anything like it. The Thrux Lawrence Bulwark buckle is machined from a solid piece of steel or brass, depending on your color preference. The CNC process gives the buckle some attractive properties–the first of which is ridiculous robustness. I am told that the process for making the buckles chews through machine bits like I go through Cheerios*. Normal buckles are still quite durable, but this buckle is completely, awesomely overkill. It is thick and heavy, which is a consistent motif in Thrux Lawrence’s goods.
Another feature of the machining process is the pattern of machine marks on the metal. It’s not a perfect sheen. You can see how the machine routed out this buckle and we love that.
Uniquely, this belt does not have a post like your average buckle. Instead it has a nub that slots into the size notch. This gives the belt a very symmetrical look when you are wearing it.
The bulk of the cost on this belt comes from this unique buckle. Machining small brass and steel parts is expensive and slow. However, the end product is incredibly durable and one of a kind.
The edges on this belt are hand burnished and the edges are skived. It is odd how many leather companies sell their leather goods as “high end,” but fail to complete these little steps that make a belt thoroughly stand out as high quality. The stiffer vegetable tanned leather takes burnishing well, so this rounds the belt off well. Using the belt for a couple months with a pair of selvege jeans has given the belt a nice patina on the edges from the indigo.
You can get the Bulwark Belt in quite a variety of colors combined with your choice of steel or brass buckle. They offer a light vegetable tan, burnt brown, redwood, and soot.
Beyond the obvious ability to keep your trousers from embarrassing you, there is one thing you need to keep in mind with this belt. When you put it on and take it off, you will want to keep the nub from rubbing severely against the leather because this will advance the wear on the leather significantly.
Without a doubt, this is an expensive belt. But, it is an exceptionally unique and durable belt that took many iterations of development to get perfect. It is an entirely functional, sophisticated, and novel design. We have reviewed quite a few belts so far and this is among our favorites. Genuinely unique designs in the leather business are rare and valuable.
We spent some time at the Thrux Lawrence shop to watch how these heavy duty rivets are set.
*TJ eats a LOT of Cheerios – The Editor