PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: Handmade Leather Belts

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: Handmade Leather Belts

June 27, 2023

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: Handmade Leather Belts

In a world where mass-produced products dominate the market, there is something truly special about owning a handcrafted item. A little bit of luxury every day. Tanner Bates understands the value of craftsmanship and we have been creating exceptional leather belts in our UK workshop for years. 

Tanner Bates Dartington Devon | Leather Workshop
The Legacy of Tanner Bates
Tanner Bates take great pride in our heritage and the traditional methods we employ in crafting our leather belts. Each belt is meticulously handmade using full grain leather and traditional saddlers' hand tools. This attention to detail ensures that every belt is of unparalleled quality and made to withstand the test of time.
Unparalleled Quality
The hallmark of Tanner Bates leather belts lies in the combination of the quality of the materials used coupled with the skill and experience of our artisan leatherworkers. We source only the finest leather, to create our belts. We opt for classic designs that will transcend the fads of fast fashion.
One of our most popular belt leathers is the Oak Bark Tanned Devon Leather, which is sourced from the only remaining oak bark tannery in Europe, located just up the road from us here in Devon. This unique leather is a result of a very traditional tanning process that takes around 18 months to transform the skin into a in a supple yet very strong English Bridle Leather. Each hide is dyed and finished by hand, and thanks to the gentle tannage the hides are bursting with character and a distinct leathery aroma.
The leather has a full grain finish which means that every blemish or scar on the cows skin will be present on the finished hide and apparent on the finished product. The hides are dyed by hand at the tannery with an aniline dye. This process allows the grain and all the individual markings on the cow's skin to show through. The dye is absorbed into the hide in an irregular way so giving a unique appearance to every belt. No two are the same.

The belts are made entirely by hand from cutting the strap from the hide to the shaping of the point which we make using a traditional saddler's round knife.
A Belt for Everyone
Tanner Bates offers a wide selection of leather belts, catering to both men and women. With a range of leathers, buckles, widths and sizes available, finding the perfect belt is effortless. We have a belt to suit your style. The Dartington Belt, made from Full Grain Italian leather, is a versatile option that complements both jeans and smart-casual trousers.
We employ a range of different making techniques, some of our belts are hand stitched, whilst others utilise hand hammered copper rivets or tubular rivets. From standard sizes to made to measure. 
Finding your belt size
The Perfect Fit
Ensuring a proper fit is essential when purchasing a leather belt. As trouser size and measured belt size can differ, Tanner Bates provide a helpful sizing guide to assist you in finding your ideal size. By measuring an existing belt, customers can determine the best fit. Whilst our Dartington Belts and Dartmoor Belts come in standard sizes, our Devon Belts and Exmoor Belts are made to measure to ensure a perfect, tailored fit. If you are in any doubt at all about which size is required, please get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to help. 
Attention to Detail
The buckles used in our Devon, Dartmoor and Exmoor Belts are solid brass sand-cast and sourced from a West Midlands foundry. This is the only foundry left in this country using the traditional sand casting process that we have been able to find. Over time these solid brass buckles will patina, just like the leather. If you need, a little Brasso to the buckle will polish it up and keep it looking superbly shiny, be sure not to get any Brasso on the leather though!
Leather care | Leather Hide Food
We include a small complimentary tub of our Hide Food with each oak bark leather. Our Hide food is made for us using tannery oils and other natural fats and oils to help keep the leather supple and in good condition for years to come. Apply a little to the grain side every so often, leave overnight and brush off any excess with a horsehair polishing brush in the morning. Natural oils evaporate over time and need replenishing. Your leather benefits from and will look its very best if given an occasional dose of natural waxes and oils.
Personalisation: Making It Your Own
One of the standout features of a Tanner Bates leather belt is the opportunity for personalisation. With up to 12 characters available, you can have your belt embossed with your initials, name, a date or a special message.
We use traditional bookbinder brass-type to emboss your personalisation, you can choose between gold, silver, black, or blind (no colour) embossing. The personalisation will be discreetly placed on the reverse side (inside) of the belt, ensuring an understated, personal and elegant look.

Leather care kit
Caring for Your Leather Belt
Tanner Bates’ naturally tanned leather needs feeding from time to time to keep it looking its best. Our leather is ethically and sustainably processed, using a mixture of tree bark to transform the hides into leather. We recommend applying a dose of our Hide Food every six months or so (depending on environment and use) to replenish the natural oils and ensure the leather remains supple and vibrant. Our Leather Care Kit comes with an information card which provides further guidance on how to best care for your belt and other Tanner Bates pieces.
Sourcing Our Leather – The Tanning Process 
The process of transforming animal hides into leather is known as tanning. The chemical responsible for this transformation is called tannin, which, traditionally, was acquired from the bark of trees. Leather made using this method is referred to as 'bark-tanned' or 'veg-tan' leather. All of our belts are made from naturally tanned leather produced in this old fashioned way. Ultimately, these traditional methods of leather production enable us to make a product that is both long-lasting and full of character.
We are passionate about provenance and it is important to us to know who produces our leather. We source our speciality leathers from small, family run tanneries, mainly in the UK and Italy. Read more about our leathers and the tanneries who produce it in our leather provenance blog. 
Our oak bark tanned English Bridle Butt leather comes from Baker’s Tannery in Colyton, East Devon. Whilst our luxurious full grain Italian leathers are sourced from small speciality Florentine Tanneries. 
Tanning leather with the use of tree bark is a natural process
Tanner Bates products are crafted from leather that has been tanned in the traditional way and therefore have that characteristic aroma that real leather possesses. This scent is absent in leather that is processed industrially. The ancient technique of utilising tree bark to transform animal hide into leather is the only method that yields this distinctive smell.
Exploring Oak Bark Tanned Leather: What is it?
Tanning leather with oak bark is a much slower process than many other tanning methods and may take up to 18 months. However, the leather it produces is of superior quality and strength. This type of leather tanning requires the leather to be left in pits which simply contain a mixture of oak bark and water from the stream that flows alongside the tannery. The hides are gradually moved up the tan yard from tan pits containing weaker tanning liquor to tan pits containing stronger tanning liquor over the course of the tanning process. There is an ancient waterwheel that gently agitates the hides. 
This country has a long history of oak bark tanning. Now however, only one tannery remains (the last in Europe) situated here in the Devon hills. There has been a tannery here since Roman Times. Baker’s leather is renowned and sought after the world over. The oak bark is a by-product of the timber industry which comes from trees coppiced in the spring in the Lake District and Wales, the Devon cow hides are again a by-product of the meat industry. It is these two by-products, combined with water from the river that flows alongside the tannery, and time that produce this incredibly special leather. 

Authentic, top-notch leather
At Tanner Bates we use hides that are referred to as "full-grain". This means that they retain the surface of the skin just as it came off the cow, sans hair. This includes all the imperfections that existed naturally on the animal's skin in the form of scars and blemishes, making each hide unique. As a bit of an analogy, to compare our traditionally tanned full-grain oak bark hides to the factory mass produced leather of today, the comparison would be similar to that of a delicious organic carrot from your allotment/veg patch VS a somewhat bland supermarket carrot!
Each Tanner Bates hand crafted piece carries the distinct aroma of real leather produced in the traditional manner. Initially, quite rigid, yet with use and time, the leather will relax and soften, taking on marks and developing a beautiful patina unique to you, becoming even more attractive.
When it comes to leather belts, Tanner Bates stands out as a brand that values tradition, craftsmanship, and quality. Each handmade belt is a testament to our commitment to creating products that last a lifetime. 
With a wide selection of sizes, styles, and personalisation options, there is a Tanner Bates leather belt for every discerning customer. Embrace the art of craftsmanship, invest and indulge in the timeless elegance of a Tanner Bates handmade leather belt.

Tanner Bates Leather Gifts | Made in Devon

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