Every so often, an idea comes along that is so ingenious that you wonder why no one has thought of it before. Designing your own belt is one such an idea, and Elliot Rhodes has come up trumps with their bespoke leather belt and buckle service.
I love anything customized, so was delighted to be invited by Elliot Rhodes to try their service and choose a belt from the thousands that they have on offer. Apparently when Justin Elliot Rhodes, the founder, opened his first store in 2004, people said he was crazy. However it has become one of the most successful independent retailers in the UK, with three central London stores. Covent Garden opened in 2004, followed in 2008 by the Chelsea store in Duke of York Square and St Christopher’s Place in 2011. They now have a store in Osaka, Japan and their belts can also be found in several department stores and independent shops.
All the belts are designed in the UK and made exclusively for them in Spain and Italy by skilled craftsmen, using traditional belt-making techniques. What is really unique is their interchangeable system, allowing you to switch buckles whenever you feel like it.
And the customization doesn’t stop there as you can also choose one of 500 belt straps of your preferred colour, material and width. The helpful lady in their Duke of York Square store was so patient while I dithered over my selection. Apparently it’s only the regular customers who know straight away what they want! There are a few points to consider when purchasing a bespoke belt – firstly, how will you wear it, on your waist or at your hips or both? Would you like a short belt tip or a longer one? Elliot Rhodes size to the first of the 3 holes as standard but for bigger buckles they can size a bit longer as it gives a better look to the belt. The belts generally come with three holes, however for internet orders they punch an extra hole for greater size flexibility.
Once you’ve decided on the belt itself, you then choose from over 800 buckles! There are many hidden away in drawers as the selection is so vast. They’re designed in house and sourced globally from France, Italy, the UK and USA. Buckle making is a very artisanal trade, as the original designs are sculpted by hand in wax, giving each buckle its own unique look. The prices are surprisingly reasonable with many under £30.
I just happened to have a blouse that matched it perfectly. Here I am at the newly renovated Wallace Collection, it’s a must visit if you haven’t been.
And here is the belt again at nearby Home House private member’s club. If you’re wondering where the first shot was taken, I could tell you but I’d have to kill you…just joking, it’s a secret garden in Regent’s Park.
The belts really do make the perfect Christmas gift, and they also have a great selection of wallets, card and passport holders. Let’s hope Mr Luxe is not reading this as I know he’s got his eye on a horse’s head buckle and they’ve already noted down his belt measurements for me ;-). Duke of York Square is a brilliant place to go gift shopping and you can refuel afterwards at Gallery Mess at the Saatchi Gallery.
Check out the Elliot Rhodes collection online and in store. What do you think of this service?