About J de la Rue
I was born and brought up in Zimbabwe, surrounded by a menagerie of unusual animals. My days were filled with exciting adventures on the African veldt. My grandfather, an eccentric Englishman, lived in the bush and had an unrivalled knowledge of cattle and a passion for game. It is therefore no surprise that my design inspiration comes from the wonderful memories I have of my African upbringing.
After completing secondary school in Zimbabwe, I went to university in England and Rome, and then studied at the famous Florentine leather school, La Scuola del Cuoio.
Under the exacting mentorship of true artisans I was taught the skills of handcrafting leather. By adopting the practices of the masters of Italy that have been developed and perfected over centuries, each of my leather articles exudes a quality and distinctiveness that can only be derived when a product is totally crafted by hand.
My belts are unusual because I have designed every element of every belt and buckle. An artisan of leather and an amateur sculptor, I am determined to learn whatever skills are required to make products that are wholly my own.
The printed bovine leathers that I use for my belts are a reflection of the wildlife that surrounded me as I grew up. Some prints are realistic, while others have been selected for their ethnic feel. The plain leather belts are made from the hides of stock-fed and rural cattle. These hides have been deliberately hand finished with waxes and oils to show the true character of the leather. All leather used in the making of these belts, as well as custom-made articles, is ethically and sustainably sourced.
In appreciation of my family’s ranching history in the Lowveld of Rhodesia each belt is embossed with the old family cattle brand.
I feel privileged to have experienced two opposite but equally wonderful worlds – the magic of the Lowveld bush and the trending fashion of Europe - and so I decided to create my own collection of belts.
Belts are my way of freeing artistic expression, they are my canvas, if you like. I bring out a single new collection and a limited edition range of original pieces each year, which requires many hours of workmanship.
My collections are designed to be timeless and wearable – I wanted to create a stylish range that anyone can feel comfortable in, a range that cannot be found anywhere else.
Whether it is the unique buckle design, a burst of colour from the single signature cabochon, or the print of the hide, every belt makes a statement and offers the wearer the romance of Africa in a classic style.
I wanted to create a product that is 100 % my own, so I painstakingly designed each buckle myself. These have been brought to life by a professional sculptor and individually hand-cast using the traditional lost-wax method.
While brass is the principal casting metal, buckles can be custom-made in various shades of bronze, silver and other metals, set with a single stone, or several.
All J de la Rue articles are handmade in Zimbabwe and South Africa.