Style At Large
Menswear veteran and Valet's Editor at Large, Michael Macko, presents an insider's take on what's new and noteworthy in the world of style.

DIY Style:
Climbing Rope Belt

It may sound surprising, but Eastern Mountain Sports is one of my favorite stores to shop. I can spend hours looking at all of the innovative outdoor equipment and old school tools, but my favorite section is the one filled with colorful spools of climbing rope. And I've been seeing it a lot lately. Lanvin used the rope on their sandals this past spring and then there's Big Bambu—the installation that the Starn twins did at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is actually a "wave" of bamboo flowing off of the roof, with the stalks lashed together with climbing rope.

Inspired, I bought a couple of feet of the rope on a recent visit to EMS and decided to try my hand at making a few belts. I picked up a couple of stainless steel rings at a local trimmings store. I found that 9' of rope (doubled) works well and fits a 32" to 36" waist. To trim the rope, cut the length you need and finish it off by holding it over a match to melt the plastic coating that protects the rope from fraying.

I tied the rope on using a lark's head (aka cow hitch) knot. It's a simple knot used to tie a ring into a line on a boat. To create it, simply place a loop of line through a ring, by doubling the rope, and threading it through the loop. Then work it down around the ring and pull tight to create the knot.

If you don't have an EMS or trimming store nearby, you can still get everything on the cheap online left. The fun part is to go into other stores, like craft or marine supply stores and find different colored rings or rope. I'm now experimenting with braiding three strands of thinner rope together. The best part is that most of the belts cost around six bucks to make!

What's more, is that people are digging them. I wear them all the time and am constantly giving them away to people. On a recent photo shoot the model, photographer and designer I was working with all wanted them. I've even been asked to make them for a friend's shop. But they're so easy, I felt that everyone should be able to make their own.

Big Bambu installation at the Met.

Lanvin's sandal for Spring/Summer 2010.

Lark's Head Knot
Rope: $.60 a foot x 9 ft. = $5.40
Stainless rings: $.30 x 2 = $.60







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