Dirty Fashion: Why we only make sustainable leather belts


Close-up of green leaf to symbolise sustainable leather belts and fashion

Fast fashion is a dirty industry. Second only to the oil industry, the clothing industry is one of the largest polluters in the world. That’s something we care about. And its something we don’t want to be a part of.

It’s why we work really hard to make sure we only make sustainable leather belts - belts that will last a lifetime... 

Why is fashion such a dirty word?

The environmental impact of the fashion industry seems surprising at first. When we think of pollution, we tend to envisage huge factories churning out smoke, or raw sewage pumped into rivers. Not a harmless cotton shirt or a new belt.

But in reality that cheap shirt you saw on the high street comes at a hefty cost to the planet.

It requires huge quantities of water, pesticides and fertilisers to grow the cotton. Once you’ve got the cotton, it takes vast resources to power the factories that spin the fibres to make the fabrics and produce the garments. Often the process involves the intensive use of hazardous chemicals, causing irreversible pollution.

Globalisation means that clothes and accessories are often produced cheaply halfway across the other side of the world. So that cotton shirt was likely shipped all the way from Asia in a big old container ship powered by low-grade bunker fuel, 1,000 times dirtier than the highway diesel used by trucks.

Is leather sustainable?

Leather, too has an impact on the environment. The resources used to raise animals, the energy required to turn skin into leather, the dyes used; these all have an impact on the environment. 

leather hides used to make sustainable leather belts

At Colville Leather we try to use environmentally friendly dyes and responsibly sourced leather so that we can produce sustainable leather belts. But in reality, there is no item of clothing or accessory that does not have some impact on the environment. 

Disposable fashion

It all sounds a bit doom and gloom. And we don’t want to preach at you. Because, in reality, we think fashion is important. Leather accessories are our business after all. 

The real problem with the fast fashion industry isn’t the processes used to make clothes and accessories. Whilst it’s important to find ways to lower the environmental impact of production, the biggest environmental impact of the fashion industry comes from its disposable nature. 

There is a trend today for quick, cheap clothes that are easily disposed of and replaced. New styles come and go before you even get the chance to nip down to Primark at the weekend. 

Sales of clothing have nearly doubled from 1 Trillion dollars in 2002 to 1.8 Trillion dollars in 2015. They’re expected to rise to 2.1 trillion by 2025. Clothing production doubled between 2000 and 2014 and the number of garments produced in 2014 exceeded 100 billion (see this PDF for more info).

On top of this, the life cycles of consumer products shortened by 50% between 1992 and 2002.

Clothing made by fast fashion companies is not designed to last very long. And it’s this great cycle of mass production and mass disposal that is taking its toll on the environment.

So, what’s the solution - nudity?

It’s probably the most effective way to solve the global impact of fashion, but I think we’d all agree that it’s a bit too chilly most of the year in the UK to run around naked.

No, the best way to reduce your clothes’ carbon footprint on the world is simple: Buy fewer clothes.

That’s where the slow fashion movement comes in. There’s a new generation of designers, artisans and fashion brands that are striving to reintroduce value and longevity to the products we buy.

It’s all about slowing down consumption by making good quality clothes and accessories, that invest in local resources as well as classic, timeless design that will last for years. It’s about making fashion sustainable.

Take, Patagonia for example. As the ‘father’ of the slow fashion movement, Patagonia paved the way for producing quality clothing using organic, recycled and up-cycled fibres. They focus on making clothes that last for years and use their Worn Wear program to help their customers get as much wear as possible out of each item of clothing.

Other great UK and US based slow fashion brands include People Tree, United by Blue, Thought, Finisterre (which even offers a free wetsuit repair service under warranty), Here Today Here Tomorrow, THTC, Noctu and Seasalt’s Locally Made project. 

How we make sustainable leather belts

At Colville Leather, when we talk about making sustainable leather belts, that’s what we mean. We’re investing in this slow fashion movement. By handcrafting custom-made, top quality products, we’re striving to reintroduce a generation to the longevity and beauty of traditionally made leather accessories.

Each belt is made-to-order according to your waist size. Waste is limited and there’s no unnecessary use of resources. Wherever possible we use any waste leather to make belt keepers and leather keychains.

Process of making sustainable leather belts

The beauty of leather is that every hide is unique. As such, each leather belt handcrafted in our Devon workshop is unique. And with the proper care, Colville Leather belts each age in their own individual way. All of the leathers and processes we use create a deep, raw finish that ensures our belts will age beautifully over time and use. A Colville Leather belt is designed to grow old with you.

We offer a lifetime warranty on the craftsmanship of every leather belt that we sell as well as any support you need to properly care for your belt. It’s just one small way in which we can contribute to making our belts and other leather accessories sustainable. 

Take a look at some of our sustainable leather belts and other handcrafted leather accessories over in our shop.


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