Having good taste and impeccable style doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes, it takes learning from the best in the industry to truly perfect dressing like a fashion-forward, modern man. Welcome to our series, “How to Be Stylish,” where we pick the brains of some of the most respected figures in fashion for their ultimate style tips.
Let’s be honest: The only question most guys ask themselves when selecting a new belt is, “Will this sufficiently hold up my pants for the whole day?” And it’s most likely no surprise that some guys settle on a ho-hum option until the boring brown band can no longer fulfill its waist-hoisting abilities. But being a one belt kind of guy is amiss for your style. Sure, the accessory is 100% practical, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish too. In fact, a printed or textured alternative can provide some much-needed pizzazz to your average T-shirt and jeans getup.
Perhaps nobody knows (and celebrates) the importance of belts more than Andrew Heffernan, co-founder of Beltology. After noticing a lack of fun, fashion-forward belts for men, Heffernan teamed up with co-founder and former Parsons classmate Anna Lundberg to launch the cincture-centric brand in 2014. But unlike most fashion execs, this Irish co-founder spent some time as a surgeon and investment banker before entering the menswear industry in 2009. In this installment of “How to Be Stylish,” we scored an inside look at Heffernan’s tips for everyday style and investing in a au courant belt.
The Cheat Sheet: Can you tell me a little about yourself? How did you get to where you are now, career-wise?
Andrew Heffernan: Anna and I met at Parsons, and we started dating pretty much straight away. We both loved following brands and the retail industry. Before I took classes at Parsons, I had worked as an investment banker and management consultant [as well as] working with other retail start-up brands. Anna had worked at Ralph Lauren and for a number of start-ups also.
CS: What inspired you to launch Beltology?
AH: There are two reasons we launched Beltology. First, we had become aware of the explosive growth around single-category direct-to-consumer companies such as Warby Parker and Harry’s, to mention just a few. We [also] knew that menswear was (and still is) the fastest growing category online, and that men’s accessories is the fastest [growing] part of menswear. Within men’s accessories, the belt is the biggest category at roughly a 3.2 billion dollar market size. It was obvious that belts were an after-thought for most brands and no one had really gone after the market. We felt it was a sleeping giant!
CS: Whether getting dressed yourself or leading the Beltology team, what’s the one style rule you always follow?
AH: The attention to the details makes all the difference.
CS: Besides a stylish belt, what is the one thing that every stylish man should invest in?
AH: Great shoes!
CS: What are five things every modern man needs in his closet?
AH: A pair of brown suede Chelsea boots; custom-made suit; the Apple Watch; a vintage tan leather “laptop” bag; and a tape measure.
CS: It’s no secret that most guys think of a belt more as a necessity than an accessory. What are some tips you can give our readers for finding a stylish, yet functional, belt?
AH: Comfort and flexibility is the name of the game. Find a belt that has a little stretch and that does not rely on pre-punch holes. Look for a very simple, yet stylish,buckle and let the subtleties of the strap do the talking.
CS: How many belts should a typical modern man have in his closet? Which types of belts?
AH: As many as he can afford! The belt should be seen as an expressive accessory so [ideally], men should own belts in a variety of colors, materials, widths, and thicknesses.
CS: Where do you see Beltology five years from now?
AH: In five years, we aim to be the most talked about and most sought after belt brand in the United States.
Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs