La Pampas to Smith's Lawn - Estribos
If you've been to any equestrian event over the last decade or so, you'll have notices the jaunty patterned leather belts that have become increasingly popular with everyone from polo players to three-day-eventers. Available in a wide array of cheerful colours and patterns, these belts really catch the eye and, although there are now a number of suppliers of this style of belt in the UK, there really is only one place to go for a top-quality, authentic belt that will keep you smiling for years to come.
With their belts almost ubiquitous among the polo playing community, and an ever-increasing list of devotees among equestrians more generally, Estribos is the brand of choice for those in the know, and has become a byword for quality, durability and timeless style.
Our founder and editor-in-chief Hannah can vouch for the quality and style of an Estribos belt, owning 5 in a variety of styles and finishes. Some of these are over 10 years old and still look as good, if not better than ever as they improve with age and use. Thus when Sophie at Estribos invited us to find out more about the brand and how they make their famous belts, we jumped at the chance.
How it all began
Meaning 'stirrups' in Spanish, Estribos is a family-owned business, originally from the Falkland Islands before moving to Argentinian Patagonia in the mid-19th century. While the Estribos workshop has been making belts for over 30 years, the hat side of the business has been in production since 1891. Since bringing Estribos to the UK with a family move in 2004, the company has branched out into a range of products that includes, hats, the famous belts, dog collars and leads, espadrilles and polo brow bands.
History of the belt designs
It all began with the pattern 'Guarda Pampa', a centuries old design similar to that shown on an Estribos belt below and created originally by the indigenous people, the 'Mapuches' of Argentina and Chilean Patagonia. A symmetrical design symbolic of the Andes mountains reflected in the region's lakes, and later adopted by the famous Gauchos, the specific weave design indicated the wearer's social status and the thread colours used could indicate anything from nobility (black) to a warrior's bravery (red).
Over time, Estribos has developed a number of belts in different colours and finishes inspired by these original indigenous designs, meaning there really is something for every taste. From a plain belt for the city office to a Pony Club belt for all those rallies, Estribos has you covered.
In addition to the standard leather finish, Estribos are the unrivalled global masters of the unique, eye-catching Carpincho leather. Originating from the hide of thecapybara, this stunning suede is sourced as a by-product and imported under strict licensing. Available in its natural rusty brown, as well as in a range of colours including black, red, green and a stunning deep cobalt blue, it is proving to be so popular that Estribos are often only able to sell it as a limited edition online and at the various shows they exhibit at, where the belts fly off the shelves!
How are the belts made?
While keen to support British manufacturing and craftsmanship where possible, Estribos proudly benefits from the unsurpassed traditional leather-making and embroidery skills of the Argentine people when it comes to the creation of their products. Supporting traditional industry is hugely important to the brand, and it is particularly vital in the rural areas of Argentina where these belts are made, and where alternative employment options are limited.
Estribos sources all their leather from two small tanneries who use traditional leather-making methods, and all the embroidery is carried out in the traditional way by local Argentine women, who use waxed thread, sourced especially by Estribos, to create the beautiful designs. This means each belt really is hand-made and can take anything from 4-8 hours to make from start to finish.
Stand out from the crowd with customisation
As well as the standard range of belts, there are a number of customisation options available for your Estribos belt if you're after something a little different. One of the easiest ways to create that individual look is through the choice of belt buckle, and Estribos can offer a selection of different styles, including this stirrup-shaped buckle that's perfect for us equestrians.
A quick-release buckle is also available, in addition to the square-style buckle that is most commonly used for these belts. While these buckles are available in brushed or polished nickel, Estribos are the only major UK polo belt supplier who offer solid brass buckles (again available in either a brushed or polished style).
The preference for a gold or silver look can also be carried into another customisation option, that of having one's initials on the belt. Perfect for adding a personal touch to one of Estribos' standard colourways, or as the ideal gift, up to 4 initials can be stamped onto the belt 'keeper' in either gold or silver foil. Offering a nicer look and greater longevity than where initials are added onto the loose end of the belt, this is a subtle way of differentiating your look.
Or go totally bespoke...
If the different belt options mentioned above just don't go far enough and you want something truly unique, why not have a completely bespoke belt instead? As all Estribos belts are hand-made by the artisan craftsmen mentioned earlier, the world really is your oyster when it comes to the combination of pattern and colour options that are available for that truly special belt.
Look out for our piece on Estribos' bespoke design service, launching at Badminton Horse Trials this year, for more details on how you can create your own unique belt.