For the last few years, belts and buckles have been a major part of fashion in the world of golf. Belts and buckles that were once an afterthought or something thought of strictly to hold your pants up, are now a mainstay in the “complete” wardrobe. One company has stepped outside the “conventional” look and put together some of the finest buckles THP has ever come across, and while they are not the typical apparel brand you normally see in our Spring Fashion Preview, we think you will be glad that we included them. This being our first look at the company, THP decided it would be best to interview the people behind the brand and get a history lesson on why the company does what they do.
THP: When did 59 belts come to be?
59: The concept of a machine milled buckle happened in late summer of 2006 although the first buckle worthy of a 59 logo did not debut until July of 2007 at the LPGA Canadian Open. Coincidentally or not, the day following Tiger Woods 59th PGA Tour win at PGA championship.
THP: What made you decide to get into the golf belt market?
59: I could see golf fashion trending towards micro-fibers amongst my younger students (I was and am still a golf teacher only now on a very limited schedule) but no-one was making a belt to properly accessorize the shift except JL. It was one of those moments when you don’t know why but it is exactly the right thing to do. Burning house syndrome I suppose… I didn’t have a background in fashion or machine milling, I don’t even own a Scotty Cameron putter. I just knew I could make a better buckle and that belts were going to be big in the near future. Most people don’t realize that 59 began a year and a half before Anthony Kim and Rory Sabbitini started bringing attention to belts and more particularly buckles. We were just so new that not many people knew about us then, still don’t actually.
THP: When was the 1st time you realized that you had something special on
59: I would say that happened a few times pretty early on with players on the LPGA tour. First Lorena Ochoa wore our “Canuck” design that very first week at LPGA Canadian Open mentioned earlier. Then I actually got a big smile out of Suzann Petterssen when I presented her custom logo buckle for the first time. That was cool, she just lit up, not exactly typical for her, that really left an impression on me. Same thing happened with Annika a few months later, that’s when I figured out that the niche 59 filled was going to be creating custom designs for individual customers, golf clubs or businesses. Initially I felt the quality, functionality and uniqueness of our product would be what set 59 apart from the rest. At the end of the day I firmly believe we make the highest quality belt/buckle combination available anywhere.
THP: How many players on the tours where one of your buckles?
59: We are nearing 50 players on the PGA, Nationwide and LPGA Tours combined. We could be one of the best kept brand secrets in golf as most of our designs out there are custom and our logo is not prominent on the buckle. A fact that goes un-recognized is that 59 does not pay a single player to wear our products. Recent recruits or 59’ers as we call them are Nathan Green, Chris Wilson, Jamie Lovemark, Spencer Levin and Chris Kirk. We are actually going to hold custom design contests for those players and more so our fans can get involved in the design process and actually have a chance to create a design that will be worn on tour.
THP: How do 59 belts and buckles differ from others out there?
59:We are different in a variety of ways.
#1 We are the only buckle maker in golf that can produce a true one-off custom design.
#2 Every single one of our buckles is individually machine milled from solid stainless steel. We do not mass produce any buckle, even our catalogue designs.
#3 We offer an engraving such as name, intials, dates or even short quotes on the back of our buckles to further personalize our product.
#4 Milling a buckle from solid stock provides for a very sturdy, long lasting buckle. In fact, we put a guarantee on the buckle parts.
#5 The buckle can be re-polished and belt straps replaced to like new appearance meaning a 59 buckle will last virtually a lifetime!
#6 A 59 owner becomes part of an exclusive club founded by “Players”.
THP: How creative can people get with custom orders?
59: On rare occasion we get something that is just too detailed to re-create, but I would say we have about a 98% success rate from the total requests we have had. People don’t realize how much work is involved with custom orders. I spend a majority of my time emailing customers with custom design orders. In some cases there are over 50 emails that go back and forth between myself and the customer as I handle every single custom order personally. The time vs. profit equation doesn’t really work out in the long run but we do put out some amazing product and make some friends along the way. My head machinist is very talented and is as much as a perfectionist as I am, so we probably expect more from a finished product than most of our customers even do. I get personal emails praising our efforts from approximately 70% of our customers after they have received their buckles. The reaction we get from Professionals and amateurs alike is what motivates for us.
THP: Tell us about the switch buckle featured here?
59: The Switch is the only buckle we make that is not entirely machine milled as the logo pieces inside the buckle are magnetic and removable. The idea was to create a single buckle that could be worn every day with different colored belts and logo pieces to match your attire for the day. The colors could be “switched” out, hence the name “Switch”. We have recently launched the slightly smaller oval “Twitch” and are working on the 3rd installment in the line, the black “Witch”. The Switch line is also our least expensive buckle to produce as it can be milled in under 20 minutes. For the base price of only $169.59, our customers receive one belt and one logo set in their choice of color. They can then add belts and logo pieces to their collection depending on their needs. It’s a really fun buckle to have, I wear my Switch more than any other buckle in my collection which you can imagine is pretty extensive.
As you can see from the pictures these are truly some of the most unique accessories that you will ever come across. The designs are intricate and flow so well that they are anything but gaudy. You will rarely hear things such as elegant, classy, and perfection in the same sentence as that of unconventional, but I believe that is exactly what you have here with this line of belts and buckles. From the moment the package arrives and you see the 59 bag that the buckle comes in to the first time you put it on with an outfit, one thing remains constant. A smile across your face!
If you get a second, check out their gallery on their website with just a few of their custom designs. The quality jumps off of the screen and you can see the intricate details that go into each piece. Here is a quick link directly to their gallery.
In our short time with these belts and buckles, a few of things stand out that I want to share. The quality of both the buckles and the straps are perhaps the best I have ever seen. From the weight of the buckle and the feel of the leather, you know you are getting something that will hold up with the elements quite well. I actually thought that the weight would be a problem when picturing these before their arrival, but once you have it on, there are absolutely no issues at all. The statement that a 59 belt and buckle make when combined with an outfit really is something unique that I had not seen before and was thrilled when we started pairing these up with apparel. The Switch buckle in particular was something unique because by changing out the color combinations, you have an endless design element with such quality that you simply cannot find anywhere else.
When it comes to style, class, and something just unique, few items we have covered here at THP have the same effect as 59 belts. From their custom buckles to their stock items, there attention to detail and overall quality reigns supreme and THP can see why they are the choice of golfers everywhere. The Switch buckle was an overall favorite in that the styles it can create are endless. After photographing these for the article, the only thing left on our minds was “Can you imagine how nice the THP Logo would look on one?”. For more information on any of the items featured here, or custom designing your own piece, check out their website at www.59belts.com.
Till Next Time