“It evokes to an age of fedora wearing explorers in far away places, where they would arrive at their destinations by a plane that is powered by a propeller.”
Inspired by historical figures such as Ernest Hemingway and Lawrence of Arabia, and “appealing to the Indiana Jones in all of us,” the Hawkmoth Propeller is a one-of-a-kind belt, a beautiful work of art skillfully crafted with fine and rare materials.
ABOUT Hawkmoth Leather Co.
It’s been my great pleasure to get to know Hawkmoth Leather Co’s Tom Sanderson over the last few months. Located in the heart of Sussex, England, Tom designs and handcrafts Hawkmoth’s belts himself between working on costumes for major movie productions.
Tom has a simple goal for Hawkmoth: using traditional techniques of leatherworking, make the most high quality leather products he possibly can out of the best materials he can get his hands on. With one of the most creative minds I’ve met, Tom draws inspiration from Al Stohlman, one of leathercraft’s pioneers, as well as “a mixture of British and European military leather work, with a sprinkling of the American wild west and a touch of the Indian subcontinent.”
Each Hawkmoth belt comes packaged in a handmade canvas case with a leather handle, stamped with the Hawkmoth Death’s Head insignia. This same insignia adorns one end of the belt, alongside two other signature stamps–the letter R representing the year 2016, and two windmills to represent Sussex.
We speak often of the rarity of vegetable tanned leather here at BestLeather, but far rarer still is the type of leather used for The Propeller: oak bark tan. Vegetable tanning is a lengthy process that takes around two months, but this pales in comparison to the year-long tanning oak bark leather goes through. It’s said to exceed veg-tan leather for durability and longevity, and only a small handful of long-running tanneries still produce this rare leather.
Once the leather arrives at Hawkmoth, The Propeller is entirely made by hand. It’s saddle stitched with thick linen thread that is waxed in-house using local organic bees wax. Large rivets are used for reinforcement. Dying is also done by hand over the course of a few days. The Propeller is overall expertly built. Edging, burnishing, stitching etc. is all well done and shows the work of a very skilled artisan. As with any handmade item, minor imperfections can be found but they’re strictly cosmetic and add to the individual personality of the belt.
I noticed that, instead of folding the leather over the buckle and sewing it shut, Hawkmoth uses a small separate piece of leather folded over and sewn such that it’s pinching down on the end of the strap. I thought this was an interesting choice, and inquired Tom about it. This is an enhancement in several ways: it allows the buckle to lie even within the thickness of the belt, ensures the buckle doesn’t rub on threads, and prevents the threads from being positioned in a high-strain position. This is a very impressive level of attention to construction detail.
The Propeller is a ranger style belt with a two-piece buckle, combined into an asymmetrical design you’re unlikely to see elsewhere. While ranger belts aren’t too uncommon, a two-piece buckle is a harder find today. Reminiscent of Civil War memorabilia, this bronze buckle is believed to be an old/new stock item from WWII (though, despite efforts by Hawkmoth and myself, we’ve yet to find documentation of its origins. Any leads would be appreciated!). Hawkmoth has only managed to procure a handful, furthering the rare and unique aspect of the Propeller.
The two piece buckle is used by slipping the small end horizontally through the large end and then rotating it flat into place. It takes getting used to, but eventually becomes as natural as coupling a typical pronged belt. A smaller standard buckle sits to one side of the main buckle to give a short range of length adjustment.
Ranger belts are intended to be wide, and The Propeller is no exception. At 1.75” (4.5cm), it’s definitely intended for wide belt loops. The tapered points of leather will sometimes catch onto smaller belt loops as well, so this belt is best worn with a thick pair of jeans (as much as I wanted to wear it with…well, everything).
The Propeller is likely quite different than the belt you’re wearing now, but it’s easy to get used to and will serve its wearer well.
Normally, I get home, roll up my belt, and place it on a somewhat high shelf in my closet out of the way. When that belt is the Propeller I instead link the buckle and place it prominently on my desk in my room–similar to the painting hanging on my wall.
The Propeller is a work of art. The US Navy two-piece buckle catches a lot of attention, but it wouldn’t have that power without the gorgeous background of hand-dyed, deep cognac oak bark leather. It carries the spirit of its inspirations well, exuding a vintage air of military and historical literature, with perhaps just a hint of steampunk. To say it plainly, wearing the Propeller makes me feel incredibly cool. Based on the number of compliments it draws, I’d say I’m not the only one.
It is a bit of a ‘loud’ look for some. We’re used to very simple belts. The Propeller poetically ascends above this standard for those who can appreciate it.
I absolutely love this belt. At the basic level it’s well constructed with top-of-the-line materials, and is a highly functional belt. Beyond that, it’s a one-of-a-kind work of art, exuding numerous inspiring cultures and sure to leave you feeling great just from the experience of wearing it.
The price makes it clear that the Propeller is for someone looking for much more than just a way to keep their pants up, but rather someone who’s looking for a rare, heirloom belt that’s the product of a highly artistic mind. I see this being the kind of item given as an indulgent graduation gift or passed from generation to generation.
The Hawkmoth Propeller is, unquestionably, a Buy It For Life product that I couldn’t recommend more. It’s only one of numerous impressive designs Hawkmoth boasts, so swing by their online shop to see for yourself.