Bros, your belts may be getting a little boring.
Keen to capitalize on young, urban males (so-called Yummies) and seasoned sartorialists looking to make a fashion statement, retailers are stocking up on an array of brightly colored belts. Like the colorful sock trend that kicked off a few years ago, it’s a way to create demand where before there was none, and with a growing batch of menswear companies vying for share, finding a new product to sell is a smart way to grow the pie. (Same goes for the short-suit.)
“It’s definitely a thing,” says Mona Bijoor, whose Joor Web platform will help retailers buy about $3 billion worth of apparel from fashion-forward wholesale brands this year. “It started in the spring, and it’s carrying over into the resort season at the end of the year.”
At the mainstream giants, J.Crew is pitching an orange version (right) made of woven ropes ($29.50), while Banana Republic (GPS) is selling a reversible belt that is black on one side and a brilliant, saturated blue on the other ($49.50).
Perhaps the best example of the genre is the Stretch Confetti Belt ($125 at Barneys, at the top). The motley colors go with just about anything one might be wearing, and the “stretch” feature pairs nicely with a Fourth of July 30-pack.
The famed fashion houses are tightening up their belt game, too. Ralph Lauren (RL) is making a suede version in a Crayola box of colors, including a deep purple (below) and a Creamsicle orange ($140).
Hugo Boss is channeling Miami Vice with an all-white belt ($135). Burberry (BRBY:LN) is going deep with shades of blue, but also selling waist wear in its signature plaid ($350). Salvatore Ferragamo, meanwhile, is gunning for guys who can pull off a serious red (below) and a chunky gold buckle ($420). Call it the Cristiano Ronaldo.
For big brands, loud belts offer a chance to flex their fashion muscles; they also lend themselves to manufacturing startups. They are relatively simple to make, cheap to ship and fit, and sizing is easy compared with, say, a button-down shirt. Beltology, launched in January, only sells belts. According to the Wall Street Journal, it wants to do for waists what Swatch did for wrists.
Suitsupply, meanwhile, has a woven number (right) that looks, roughly, like chocolate-chip ice cream. ($79).
Penguin (PERY), like Hugo Boss, is also playing the white card with a belt that looks approximately like a cribbage board ($45). And Vineyard Vines, known for its ties, has a bunch of belts best described as sherberty ($49.50).
Even those who prefer their belts in browns and blacks and their socks decidedly sane can see the sharpness in the strategy. As business dress cedes to business-casual—and increasingly just plain casual—selling more belts is a good way to make up for any missed revenue from ties and pocket squares. There’s also a nifty little multiplier effect in the economics of waist wear. Belts, after all, are supposed to match shoes.