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Inside Steven Alan

Studio Visit: Julian Belts

  • August 12th, 2013 | Uncategorized

    Jeremy and Roderick from our La Brea shop recently stopped by the studio of  leather craftsman Julian Imrie. Working out of two workshops in Sun Valley, California, Julian handcrafts men’s boots, and now belts, which are sold exclusively through our shops. He spoke with our team about his materials, process, and travels.


    Tell us a bit about your leather, which is sourced in Norway.
    The leather comes from the hides of cows which are raised in Norway. Norway has a cool climate, and a slow growing season, and for this reason the grass is very nutritious, in the same way that oak trees which grow in cool, overcast areas like England tend to be much stronger then oaks which grow warmer climates, so that French oak is not as strong as English oak, and Kentucky oak is not as strong as French oak. In the warm regions the oak grows quicker. Herbs, berries, and pasture, which grows slowly also tends to be richer.

    The cattle tend to be pale, because there is less sunlight, and the skin absorbs vitamins through contract with the sun’s rays, so for this reason the cattle tend to have pale skin.

    The hides are tanned in Belgium and Finland, according to methods which are hundreds of years old, using natural ingredients, like hibiscus. The process is hands on, and clean. The machines involved tend to come from Italy and Germany–big presses, and polishing wheels, which smooth the surface of the skin.


    Do you get to travel there often? What are your favorite places to visit?
    I plan to go to Norway, but haven’t been yet. I have been to Belgium, and the leather dealer in Holland. The town to visit is called Oud Heusden in Holland, near the Belgian border. It was destroyed during the war, but restored brick by brick by the villagers. It’s the perfect example of a Dutch village, and has a working windmill.



    How did you get into making leather goods?
    I started making straps in Kentucky, working with a horse farming community similar to the Amish. All the tack was made by hand in a community leather shop. I started with simple belts, and then learned how to sew a bag, and then sandals.



    Walk us through your process.
    It is the creative process, which we tend to call art . . . bringing something from within us, out into the world. We use the skills we have been given, to execute our design idea, the best we can. Design pulls together our sense of color, of balance, proportion, texture, and also the three-dimensional concept of structure. The things I make, especially shoes, are strongly connected to the human anatomy. The skeleton, and design of the human form is a masterpiece, and boots, belts, bags, etc. all have to fit in, and work well with it.


    Many thanks to Julian for having us over to the studio! You can find Julian belts in our La Brea, Tribeca, Venice, Brooklyn, Hayes Valley, Chelsea, Portland, Boston, and Atlanta shops.

    Photos by Roderick Hunt

    This entry was posted on Monday, August 12th, 2013 at 12:00 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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