The second in our series of belts paying tribute to the great British explorers, the Shackleton follows in the footsteps of our original Scott belt, like Shackleton himself. We have sought to use materials that would have been used for the belts of the 1914-1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition itself. We are delighted to have a belt currently on the way to the South Pole and to be supporting the SUB 100 Expedition who are following in Shackleton's footsteps in this Centenary year.
The leather we have chosen is 5mm oak bark tanned harness leather from J&FJ Baker, a tannery that has been owned by the same family since long before the exploration of the Antarctic began. The buckle we have chosen to use is one of our favourites, the West End in solid Nickel or Brass, again a very traditional design that would have been as recognisable, robust and well designed in 1914 as today. We've combined these two with our traditional hand saddle stitching with heavy off-white linen thread, precisely the same method and material that would have been used at the time. This combination of ingredients isnt simply an homage or recreation though, the materials are as much the perfect ingredients for a tough, beautiful, long lasting belt now as they where then.
When we were originally designing the Scott belt we came up with a series of criteria we wanted from the belt and the feedback we've had from owners has been so good we've used them to help us work out what we wanted from the Shackleton.
- Most importantly - a faithful friend, supportive, comfortable and able to be the only belt of a wardrobe when needs must and to be worn everyday for years without wearing out.
- Able to withstand prodigious abuse from weather, use and time and live for many years.
- Strong enough to provide support and carry weight in the form of a knife, holster etc if needed.
- Able to achieve all of this without looking crude or like a work belt, we wanted the finished article to be as tactile and as pleasing to own as any of our other belts - some would argue more so.
As with the Scott we use oak bark tanned Harness leather from Bakers of Colyton, Devon to achieve this, this time in Light Havanna, a traditional saddlery colour very similar to the warm glow of aged leather. To reflect the awesome feat of endurance shown by Shackleton and his crew (perhaps one of the greatest in history) in their epic open boat journey to South Georgia after their ship was crushed in ice, we have tweaked the formulation of the leather to make the leather more dense and even stronger than the leather for the Scott. The characteristics that would help the belt survive that epic journey also help it to be a great casual and outdoor belt; firm, characterful and an outstanding choice to go with jeans, outdoor wear and for a belt to last a lifetime of wear.
The Oak Bark tanning and hand aniline colouring used for this leather produces a genuinely beautiful and hugely characterful, naturally slightly variegated leather that shows the grain, marks and scars of the skin itself and of the exceptionally long 2 year tanning and finishing process that has made it. The leather and this rich, natural and interesting patina will continue to improve with age and use and is quite different to a mass produced leather and belt. The grease used in the finishing process helps to make what from another tanner would be a stiff and rather wooden belt, into a pleasure to wear and the tanners art locks the grease into the heart of the leather, keeping the outside grease free to touch. As much as this belt has been designed for very hard use the leather is in no way crude or utilitarian and will certainly not disappoint the lover of great leather. The belt will arrive with character built in and will carry the marks of both its life with you and of its years long creation process with good grace.
The Shackleton is available with a number of different styles of buckle, all of which are specifically chosen for their suitability for this weight of leather and for use in rugged and challenging environments whilst retaining the elegance of design to be expected of the classical English buckle.