At the end of a big meal last Thanksgiving, Francis Lombardi announced to his family that he was going to buy a sewing machine. A financial investor by trade, Lombardi had always been something of a tinkerer and the idea of a buckleless belt had come to him courtesy of a full stomach. Good as his word, Lombardi was soon sporting a design of his own invention. He was immediately inundated with requests for similar models and contacted by a group of college kids looking to organize a Kickstarter campaign around his unusual accessory. The campaign raised $51,520 and Lombardi Leather was born. The brand, which is about to celebrate something of an anniversary, now sells worldwide.
Inspired by traditional equine saddle-making techniques (cowboys tend to wrap and tie their leather much like a sailor on a schooner), Lombardi created a slim strap that dives through an opening on the other side of the belt and is then fitted through another double-slit in the leather and returned through the center opening. The final result is a slick and simple-looking design that, in our tests, didn’t budge until we undid the knot to make room for supper.
Lombardi sources his leather from Hermann Oak Leather of St. Louis, a tannery so old its most famous customers were Louis and Clark. The premium leather is then cut by hand to Lombardi’s pattern before the edges are sewn in the traditional manner of saddlery. A variety of different color-tanned leather with contrasting saddle-stitching are available, but we prefer the London Tan, which pairs well with khakis or jeans.
This one-of-a-kind belt turns heads wherever we go. And, as an added bonus, we no longer have to take off our belt while going through airport security. We’ll give thanks for that. [$99; lombardileather.com]