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Fashionistas, Time to Buckle Up

By Maxime Devillaz

Photo by Henrik Idsoe
Photo by Henrik Idsoe

In recent years, trends such as tattoos and piercings have become mainstream on the streets. Particularly in fashion, these trends come and go. What’s up next, one might wonder? Well, ‘apparel’-ly, men’s accessories.

Sales have gone up by 9 percent, counted over the year from May 2013 to 2014, reaching an annual $13.6 billion affaire, according to The New York Times. Retailers have noticed this change with some of them now working to make us buckle up for the summer.

“We see many people strolling around with rings, wristbands, and other types of jewelry,” said Erik Berthagen, a junior Economics major. “We feel that belts are forgotten in this trend.”

Berthagen is a newly recruited employee of Beltology, a monotype business that, since it was founded in early January 2014, focuses solely on belts. Berthagen says that the company’s vision is to explore the changing market by trying to take advantage of people’s generally more accepting views in society.

“Socks, particularly colored socks, were up,” co-founder Andrew Heffernan told the Wall Street Journal in 2014, “gloves were up, scarves were up, even ties were up. We thought, surely this is a sleeping giant.”

The company has developed a Platonic style of men’s belts, according to its website. It is a niche influenced by popular Italian works with elastic, 1- to 1 1/4 inch-wide woven strips that see over 40+ different color styles after preference.

Retailers of fashionable men’s belts may often sell for a hefty price, and so Beltology is using less cost-efficient ways to promote its product that ranges from $55 – $65. With offices at Lower Manhattan, the company bases its products solely online. But while lots of its promotion is done via uploads on social media sites, the significant strategy to building a trend, Berthagen believes, is part of an already spinning wheel.

His job involves countless visits to the many coffee houses in New York City, but not for coffee per say. “The coffee culture in New York has expanded, and so I meet with these managers, give them a belt and promote our product,” Berthagen said. “Our goal is for all trendy coffee house employees to work wearing our belts.”

Photo by Erik Berthagen
Photo by Erik Berthagen

But fashion sometimes does not match itself. With more pants being created with adjustable buckles, there’s a chance your new pants don’t really need a belt at all. But maybe it’s not the need of a belt that is governed as trendy, but a want to stick out.

“When I’m in more fashion-forward neighborhoods such as SoHo or Williamsburg,” Ileana Lado, a junior Psychology major, said, “I’ve come across some men who wear belts to add an extra touch to their outfits and it looks great with tucked-in shirts.”

Although Lado has not yet seen any outstanding belts on college students at LIU Post, she’s ready to give the upcoming summertime a chance. For now, the one student that does get something out of buckling up is Berthagen.

“I get to work with economic analyses, how to set up a budget and consider marketing strategies to better promote our product,” Berthagen said. “It’s great to be able to relate the skills of my major with one of my great interests.”

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