Hello everyone! This week, I’m excited to introduce Cinch Belts, a homegrown startup focusing on providing quality leather belts for men.
Cinch Belts offers full-grain leather belts fitted with a micro-adjustment track that allows wearers to find “the perfect fit” at an affordable price. I’m personally not aware of any other local brands that focuses on belts, thus I was very intrigued by them! I probed the team behind Cinch Belts to find out more about their story – the excerpt of the conversation can be read below.
Interview with Cinch Belts
1) What prompted you guys to start Cinch Belts? What was the inspiration?
CB: It all started as a personal problem for one of the founding partners at Cinch. The traditional belts that he was wearing had holes that were badly stretched and the leather strap was literally falling apart! (See pictures below, those are his old belts!) We took a deeper look into the problem and discovered the main cause was that traditional belts had holes one inch apart and weren’t fitting the wearer perfectly. It was either too tight or too loose, which adds unnecessary stress on the leather strap. We thought to ourselves “Belts have been around for a long long time, why hasn’t anyone done any improvements to this basic fashion accessory?”
Down the rabbit hole we go. We began experimenting with a variety of buckle designs and materials for our belt straps. After more than a dozen different design and material tests, we founded Cinch Belts. Our design allows micro-adjustments of only a quarter inch apart, Cinch Belt will fit the wearer perfectly and comfortably. Cinch Belt’s unique buckle design and the choice of a full grain leather strap was the perfect solution for our dear friend.
2) Tell us more about Cinch Belts as a brand, and what you hope to achieve.
CB: Cinch Belts believes in creating value for our customers. By that, we aim to have people recognise that Cinch is always here for them; Both to keep your pants up perfectly and comfortably, and to provide excellent customer service with a quality online shopping experience.
3) In your opinion, what makes a quality belt? How does one differentiate between a good quality belt, and a sub-par one?
CB: Materials would define the quality and also the price point of a belt. As Cinch Belts uses an entirely new buckle design, our build is slightly different. For Cinch, our track mechanism that engages the buckle is made of ultra-high-tensile-strength plastics and can withstand the stresses on your waistline with ease.
And of course, the main component is the leather strap. The most common leather used in belt making is genuine leather, mainly due to its lower price point. Genuine leather is actually the lowest quality of leather, they are made from scraps of left overs from the process of making higher grade leather products. These scraps are combined with layers of low quality leather and bonded together with glue and then painted over to give a uniform finish. (That’s why people call them bonded leather too) The percentage of real leather in genuine leather can differ widely between manufacturers. That is the reason why we’ve decided to use only full grain leather for Cinch Belts.
4) Could you elaborate more about the leather used in your belts, as well as the workmanship that goes into them?
CB: Cinch Belts are made with 100% full grain leather. The actual raw hide from a cow has very little practical use as it is too thick. Manufacturers have to split them into different layers. The outer-most layer is called full grain leather, followed by top grain leather, and finally the innermost layer is made into genuine leather products. Full grain leather, like those used in Cinch Belts, is the outer most layer of the hide. This layer serves as a protection for the animal. This means that it retains all of the hide’s original texture, markings, and even scarring. This makes full grain leather very expensive, as it is difficult to find an entire hide of full grain leather with minimum scarring to be made into products.
Workmanship is key for a good quality leather product. As so much of the process is still done by hand, we work very closely with our manufacturer on each step of the process. To keep things short, we’ll share just one of the process : Edge Painting.
Edge painting is exactly what it means. Edge painting takes about 30 minutes to complete. After gluing and stitching the two pieces of full grain leather together, we even out the edge of the strap with a knife and sand it out to make sure the paint sits better. Next we apply the first coat of edge paint. Making sure that the paint did not go over the edge, leave it to dry for 10 minutes. Once it’s dry, sand it again with 600 grit sandpaper and apply the second coat of edge paint and leave to dry. This painstaking process ensures that the edges are smooth and adds a protective layer above the full grain leather.
Ok. if we continue to talk about leather, this QnA will never end! On a side note, whilst exploring different materials, we paid a few visits to Grand Leather Enterprise at Geylang East Ave 3. Anyone interested to learn more about leatherworks should totally visit and speak to Mr Ong! He is awesome and absolutely willing to share about leather crafting.
5) What separates your belts from others in the same price point?
CB: Cinch Belt’s unique buckle system and the quality of materials used. Cinch Belt guarantees a perfect fit, the buckle system allows micro-adjustments in size. A little too tight after a buffet? Loosen it by a click. This provides the wearer an exceptionally comfortable and snug fit. As mentioned, Cinch Belt is made with 100% full grain leather and we stand by the quality of our products; that’s why all Cinch Belts come with a lifetime warranty.
We encourage people to go to your wardrobe and take a closer look at their leather belts. If possible, remove the buckle and look at the cross-section. Most belts out there are just made of genuine leather. Guys, know what you are paying for!
6) Lastly, your current collection seems limited to just two colorways. Any plans for more colours and buckle designs in the near future?
Definitely! We’re preparing to launch new strap colours by the end of this year. A women’s collection is definitely in our timeline as well. For now, we want to focus on growing our online presence and building up trust with our customers. Stay tuned! 🙂
Cinch Belts – Hands-on
Cinch Belts send me two of their belts for review, one in each colourway (Brown and Black). I have to say, I really enjoyed wearing them – they may just be the best belts I’ve ever worn!
The belts arrived in a cute little black box, with a sticker of Cinch’s logo pasted on. Nothing really fancy, but not bad!
Remove the lid, and you’ll find an informative card on how to use the belt correctly.
If it’s a little too big, simply snip away the unnecessary portion! Again, Cinch has provided clear instructions on how to do so. I appreciated the effort they put in this – it really forms a positive first impression of their product. After all, the devil is in the details!
As I’ve enthused countless time on this blog, I’m a huge fan of full-grain leather, be it on watch straps, shoes, or in this instance, belts. Leather generally comes in 3 tiers – genuine leather (the most commonly seen, and also the crappiest), top-grain leather, and full-grain leather, which is considered to be the best-quality leather tier due to the fact that it is fashioned out of the outermost layer of a cow’s hide. The result is that full-grain leather is incredibly supple and durable (due to stronger fibers present), and will develop a rich patina over time. Personally, I always look for full-grain leather in all the leather products that I buy.
Full-grain leather products are generally stunners in the looks department, and it was the case here as well, especially on the Brown colourway. As mentioned earlier in the interview, Cinch belts uses 100% full-grain leather in their products, as compared to cheaper/lower quality belts where they are padded with cardboard. With belts padded with cardboard (the $30-$40 belts one finds in departmental stores like BHG), they are stiff and inflexible, resulting in discomfort when worn. In contrast, due to it’s 100% full-grain leather composition, Cinch’s belts remained comfortable on my waist even after long days. I like the no-holes look on the belts as well – it’s a cleaner look that highlights the natural beauty of the leather. Furthermore, often one would see cracking and peeling of leather around belt holes, which will not be the case here!
The stitching on the belt is mostly nice and even, which is a plus.
The hardware on the belts are sturdily built as well! The buckle is easy to use, and possesses bolted screws for enhanced durability.
However, if I do wish that Cinch offered a greater variety of buckle designs – the current default choice is a tad too “minimalist” for my taste. Personally, I would have liked to seen more debonair buckle designs, as well as a bit of branding present! From a design standpoint, the current buckle is just a tad too uninspiring for me.
Touted by Cinch as one of its USPs (unique selling points), the proprietary InfiniTrack™ technology allows wearers to find their “perfect fit” by providing up to 40 precise sizing adjustments. As compared to traditional belts with holes punched an inch apart, Cinch’s belts allow for more precise adjustment. I appreciated this feature – I’ve not tried such belts before, and honestly, after trying on Cinch’s belts I don’t think I would be able to go back to traditional belts with holes. I really liked the flexibility offered here – I often find myself micro-adjusting a click or two after a heavy meal. However, I do think that Cinch could have done a better job with the edges of their InfiniTrack™. As seen from the picture above, the sides are rough and not smoothed out, with visible fraying of leather fibers. Certainly an area they could have paid more attention to, in my opinion!
As mentioned previously, Cinch’s belts all comes edge-painted. Thus, the sides of the belts are even and smooth, making the edges not only nice to the touch, but also more durable. Aesthetically, it’s pleasing to the eye as well. Due to the fact that edge-painting is a laborious process (Cinch stated earlier that it takes 30 minutes to complete), it’s not a process commonly seen in sub-$100 belts – nice to see that Cinch went the extra mile here!
Conclusion – so Cinch’s belts “shiok” or not?
Definitely – in fact, I’ll say that these belts by Cinch are the best belts I’ve ever worn. The build quality of the belts were great (100% full-grain leather, sturdy hardware, edge-painted sides), and the fit was near-perfect as well due to the ability to make micro-adjustments with Cinch’s InfiniTrack™ feature. In addition, Cinch provides a lifetime warranty on their belts – their belts could literally last you a lifetime!
For those interested in getting a belt from Cinch, simply quote the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” for $10 USD off! After the discount, the belts can be had for just $79.90 USD (~$109 SGD). Yes, that’s still a pretty penny for a belt, but considering the usage of 100% full-grain leather, great fit, and the lifetime warranty provided, I’ll say that Cinch Belts are a worthy investment.
For those interested in purchasing a belt from Cinch, simply click here!
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
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