If you think that the only choice when it comes to belts is leather or canvas, Beltology makes you think again. This online-only brand delivers some seriously exciting belt proposals featuring straps in materials like waxed-cotton, melange rayon and wool. They lack on holes, as the prong passes smoothly through the stretch webbing, and are finished with 100% leather trims and nickel buckles.
During a trip to Gothenburg (Sweden), Beltology founders Anna Lundberg and Andrew Heffernan entered a small Italian shirt store where there was a point of sale with stretch woven belts in 50 different colorways and experienced their aha moment. “We already knew that we wanted to start a belt brand and when we saw these belts we simply looked at each other and nodded,” recalls Lundberg, who formerly worked in the marketing department for Ralph Lauren Home. “No better place to learn about building a brand.”
Their vision became reality in 2014, offering the product in several colorways and pinpoint- and micro dot patterns for competitive prices ranging from 60 to 85 US dollars. Curious to know more about the manufacturing of their belts and what comes next, co-founder and creative director Anna Lundberg answered all our curiosities.
Some of your belts are manufactured in NYC. How does the production process look like?
We have two sources of production, NYC and China. Our Evergreens are made in bigger quantities in China, and our NYC collection consists of limited editions and seasonal styles. The NYC factory is located in the Fashion District in Manhattan. It is the last family run belt factory in New York and they are doing a phenomenal job. Having the factory in NYC allows us to experiment more to see what the customers are liking and gives us a better control over the production overall. The NYC collection retails for slightly higher than the China belts but the quality is the same.
Where do you source the fabrics of the belt straps?
We use webbing from a family run factory in Italy for most of our styles.
Are belts only produced when online orders take place?
No, we are sitting on inventory in the warehouse that we’re using.
Are there any downsides to the direct-to-consumer business approach that you’re following?
The downside is that we are more dependent of word-of-mouth and traffic to our site than if our products/brand was exposed through retailers and other partners. However, we’d rather offer the best quality possible for an affordable price and grow slower than using middlemen.
How to keep up the excitement about the brand once the initial curiosity cools down?
We’re constantly working on new designs that will excite our customer base and beyond. In addition, we’re big fans of collaborations and partnerships. This year we’ve already teamed up with Tesla, TED2016 (the official conference in Vancouver) and Netjets. We’re also launching our next collaboration this fall with an extremely talented and well respected NY menswear designer who has designed a collection of belts and exclusive packaging for us.
Can you give us more details about the mentioned collabs?
We teamed up with the Tesla team here in NYC and hosted an event in their showroom in Chelsea. During the event we sold limited edition red leather belts created in our NYC factory. It was very successful. Netjets host a very exclusive event every year during the Masters and Beltology was one of the few brands that had a presence there this year.
What are your future plans with Beltology?
We intend to stay a direct-to-consumer belt brand hopefully with physical independent retail stores in the future. Andrew and I travel quite a lot and one of our dreams is to have small shops in airports all over the world filled with colorful belts, similar to Swatch watches’ presence in almost every major airport.