Company: Obscure Belts
Product(s): Leather Belts
Founder(s): Bryan Schultz
Obscure Belts is one of the best belt companies out there. It is a small company in Wisconsin run by the Founder, Bryan Schultz, and his partner, Christina. What makes Obscure Belts stand out? Their belt buckles! Check out this design (the "Fractal") below:
Awesome right?! I think so. Everything about their buckles is top notch. They are unique, strong, and even award winning! They are truly art. I myself own the Excalibur in black. Some of the styles come in different variations as well. Check out all their different models:
Fractal, Outlaw, Sundial, Micron, Beetle, Enigma, Android, Dial, Excalibur, OHM
Another great feature is the sizing stud. With normal belts, you will start seeing wear and tear in the end tip due to constantly pulling the buckle in and out, but the stud prevents that from happening. The sizing stud is easy to remove and you can quickly change it out and put it in a different hole if need be.
Now a great belt buckle would be absolutely worthless if it was attached to a low quality piece of leather. However, being such a small company and how much time goes into making and designing each buckle, I would have understood if they did have to cut corners on the strap. Lucky for us, they didn't!
Each belt comes with a 1.5 inch full-grain strap from a tannery in Milwaukee. So not only is it full-grain, Obscure Belts tells you were their leather is from. I am always suspicious when a company who specializes in leather goods is vague or won't say where they get their leather. It makes me question the actual quality, even if it is full-grain. I am confident that my Obscure Belt strap will last a very long time. Not only by inspecting the quality of my own belt, but also thanks to the transparency by the company itself.
You can get the leather in standard colors: black, variations of brown, navy, variations of gray. They recently have introduced a black canvas strap as well (which is cheaper, but it's just not leather!). The strap is one piece of leather, there is no stitching and the edges aren't really burnished. Some people like that more polished look, but this is not a dress belt! I have not had any issues with fraying from the lack of burnishing but if you really want that, you can DIY.
The hardware is steel and magnets. The buckle doesn't have that cheap, "plastic" feel like some belts. Again, that is a testimony to Obscure Belt's commitment to quality. They could have shaved off some pricing by using cheaper, but weaker, materials. The steel adds a lot of weight and is easily the heaviest belt I own. However, the buckle does not sag and pull my pants forward due to the design. Which sometimes happens with heavier belt buckles.
With all of these features: local full-grain leather, steel hardware, handmade designs, I could easily see these belts being around $200. "What?! $200 for a belt?!" Yes, many quality end belts will cost a good amount of money. Take a look at another belt by fellow Wisconsin company Allen Edmonds: Midland Ave Belt. That belt is handmade in the United States using quality leather and is $98.00. No special unique buckle. If you add an Obscure Belt's buckle to that belt, the cost would shoot up!
In Obscure Belt's case, you are getting the same quality (if not better) for only slightly more. All their belts go for $105.00 and to me that is an insanely good price. For the amount of work that goes into each buckle design and the fact that it's a two person company, the $105 price tag, compared to another well built belt like the $98 Allen Edmonds, is a crazy good deal!
Despite being such a small company, customer service was great. I emailed Bryan some questions and he got back to me right away. The belt was also shipped and received all within the same week of ordering. Not bad for a two person crew!
Check out my own Obscure Belt, the Excalibur in black, below:
I love the sea monster design on the back of the buckle. To me that just adds to the art and uniqueness of the belt!
For leather care, I use Saphir Renovateur Cream to condition and make it shine with Lincoln Stain Wax Polish (Black). To clean it I just use your standard horse hair shoe brush.
From the design to the quality, my Excalibur belt by Obscure Belts is hands down my favorite belt I own... And I own way too many! It goes great with denim and boots and really adds something special to your outfit when you wear it. I am planning on buying another model in a different color soon (hopefully, working in the social service field doesn't pay that well)!
Conclusion: Highly Recommended