As promised in my 2017 year in review article, we’re kicking things off right in 2018 with a review of this belt from Wild Frontier Goods. I actually discovered this brand after following Mike, the man behind the goods on Instagram several months ago. Through his original feed, I saw that he was starting up a leather goods company and was immediately interested. Originally from Florida and now living in Tokyo, Mike has already been known around Instagram as a huge denim head and as a result, starting his own leather goods company simply made sense.
Let’s not beat around the bush here. Small leather goods brands are the indie video game companies of the raw denim and heritage work wear world. It seems as though they multiply like bunnies and not only have each other to compete with, but also have heavy hitting mainstream brands to go up against. These leather goods brands have to carve out a niche against so many other similar brands as well as raw denim labels that also produce high quality wallets, belts, key chains, bracelets, etc. This means that any new brands absolutely must either have major connections and established presence in the industry or must have something that truly makes them stand out from the competition.
The hand-painted kakishibu gives the belt an appearance of a wood grain
However, this is all assuming that the basics are done right and with this belt, they certainly are. In the first place, everything is made by Mike himself by hand in Tokyo, Japan. The materials are all top quality including 4mm natural vegetable tanned cowhide, durable polyester thread, and a solid brass buckle, all of which are made in Japan. The leather is relatively light and has some stretch in it. While certainly not an insanely thick piece of leather, it is not overly thin either and certainly feels as though it will outlast me.
I love to see hand stitching on a belt!
The holes are very cleanly punched and the edges are quite nicely shaped and hand burnished by Mike with wax on par with the best I have seen. Something that I was quite pleased to see was the fact that the belt is hand sewn together rather than being held together by screws. I understand that screws allow for the buckle to be changed, but I personally feel that sewing shows more craftsmanship and it is unquestionably what I prefer.
I had already used this belt several times when this picture was taken. It was unmarked when I received it
I mentioned above that any new leather brand would need something that sets it apart from the crowd and you have likely already seen from the pictures that this belt has that in spades. The natural veg-tanned leather is hand painted by Mike with kakishibu, a natural dye from Japan that is derived from the tannin of persimmon fruits. This light to medium brown dye blends beautifully with the natural veg-tanned leather to create the most stunning belt that I have seen in my life. Not only am I completely enamored with it, but it has also received numerous compliments from family and friends in the short time that I have had it. Most remark that the persimmon dye against the leather gives the appearance that the belt is made from wood. I’d have to agree with this thought and I think it looks really ace. Together with a relatively simple, but still unique and beautiful Japanese brass buckle, this belt is an absolute winner and as soon as I saw it, I knew I needed to have one.
More shots of that beautiful kakishibu on natural leather goodness!
What’s more is that Wild Frontier Goods has also used this kakishibu-dyed leather to make wallets as well. In addition, they have also made wallets that feature other high quality and unique touches such as green tea dyed waxed cotton thread, hand-dyed indigo leather, indigo-dyed washer buttons, shikon-dyed thread, and even wallets made from leather and Japanese denim! All of this certainly helps Wild Frontier Goods stand out from the crowd and while they have only hit the scene recently, I am expecting more from them in the future. Mike is currently sold out of belts, but will be available again at the price of $110 which in my opinion, is quite fair for what you are getting. I would have expected to pay at least $150 given the quality and details.
It is safe to say that I am extremely happy with this belt. The aging will almost certainly be unique and intriguing and I will do my best to update the blog and my Instagram with pictures of the process over time. There are certainly many fish in the sea of leather goods brands right now, but I personally believe that this one already stands out. If you are interested in high quality leather goods including wallets, belts, wallet ropes, and even bracelets, you should definitely give Wild Frontier Goods a look. You can check them out at https://www.wildfrontiergoods.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/wildfrontiergoodsbrand/ .