About the Brand:
Crafter: Ryan Buonamia
I remember the day Ryan slid into my DM on Instagram (is that weird to say?). He asked me if I had ever heard of oak bark tanned leather. At that time, I had been learning about, and still am, all the different kinds of leathers and collecting many different belts and wallets. My favorite belt at that time was my Pigeon Tree Crafting Quick Release, 1.5" Indigo Dyed, Vegetable Tanned Leather Belt. That belt (which is also a great belt) introduced me to the Fireman Quick Release Buckle and all its glory! So I while looking for the best leathers, I maintained a high standard for the buckles as well.
Ryan quickly dove into what made oak bark tanned leather so wonderful and unique. He told me about J & FJ Baker Tannery in England, where he gets most of his leather from. He said:
"J &FJ Baker's is mostly known for their oak bark tanning process; which is leather tanned entirely in a liquor produced from soaking english oak bark in water from the local river. They slowly step up the concentration every week, and this gradual step up prevents the hide from swelling up keeping those fibers in their natural alignment."
Here's a video about the process:
After about 15 minutes, Ryan had convinced me to get one of his belts. I told him how I had fallen in love with the quick release buckle. Lucky for me, he had a few laying around. I went with a natural, undyed belt as I felt it had the most patina potential, and boy has it changed over the last two years!
I am not one to really care about the unboxing process (I just want to see what I bought!). However, my oak tanned leather belt arrived in a nice box all wrapped up that, when opened. released an intoxicating smell of smokey wood chips that tickled my nose the way a campfire does on a cold night.
That smell lasted for quite sometime and became my everyday belt. Yes, the leather is that good and there is truly nothing like it! It is thick (4.5-6mm) and requires a break in period to conform perfectly to your body. Luckily, Ryan offers an Outfitter Kit that allows you to get the right fit and, while it doers require a little extra time, takes the guess work and anxiety away for first time customers.
Ryan's belts are truly spectacular that I had him custom make me a dress belt (1.25" width instead of his usual 1.5" width) out of a darker brown. I wore the belt specifically for my engagement photos and at my wedding. It has now become my go-to belt for those "no jeans" days.
"I love making belts. Belts play such an important part in a persons life whether they realize it or not. A properly fitted belt is the difference between your pants staying up without notice and struggling to pull your pants up all day. Everyone has that one belt that they reach for above all others. They instinctively reach for it when getting dressed in the dark. Its comfort and security in a strip of leather. You have tried to replace it a couple times but those other belts just didn’t feel right so they sit in the closet gaining dust. Knowing that someone is making one of my belts their go to belt amongst all their others is huge to me. I am deeply honored by every one of my customers that has purchased one of my belts and I hope to see photos of what they look like now."