As any of my friends will testify, I am not adverse to something playful draped around my midriff. These belts by Swiss born Betty Galizzi (short for Bettina) certainly fit that bill. Betty actually lives in South London, and she and her friends Javier and Agata quietly work away churning out these handmade belts. And what are they made of? Bicycle tires.
There is in fact more to the humble bicycle tire than you might expect, some are very valuable and highly prized (Who’d have guessed?). There are, for example, bespoke, limited edition race and country tires for noted professionals in the cycling world. The type of tire, and its past use, is also what gives rise to the distinctive patterning. Each tire wears differently according to its rubber compound and whether it has been used on road, track or cross country.
As you’d expect she has quite a following in the cycling community. Many professional racers like to give the belts as gifts to friends and sponsors, using tires they’ve raced on. Indeed, her latest devotee is British Olympic gold medallist Nicole Cooke. Other clients simply want mementos of races won or endurance treks. In fact this last group, Bettina tells me, provide quite a bit of work as a result of the popularity of biking tours across far flung corners of the globe.
My particular favourites are the multicoloured ones, which would sit as well with jeans and chinos as they would shorts. The colours are original to the tires not later additions. But then there is enough labour involved making these belts, aside from the washing process everything is done by hand. They‘re pre-punched with eight wholes and come in two sizes, SM 30-34inches and ML 36-38 inches, but you can have any size you like, simply get in touch with Bettina.
Now these belts aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, and for a good many the idea of wearing anything other than leather or suede is heresy. But as an alternative to Ribbon, Grosgrain and other preppy stereotyping apparel I think they have real merit. I try to keep my casual wardrobe as simple as possible but there is a fine line between simple and pedestrian.
Bettina is based in London, but her belts are available at www.velo-re.com.