The accessory that grabs you by the waist

Accessories Design instructor Iris Feldman is known for saying that belts are the “ugly step child of the accessories world.”

But for Mara Holmgren, it’s the all-important detail that has you by the waist.

“What brought me to Accessories Design was this idea of pulling together an outfit with an accessory, with an interesting detail, and making a focus or statement with that accessory instead of the outfit itself,” says Holmgren who is completing her AAS in Accessories Design.

Mara Holmgren’s project for Belt Design class with Instructor Iris Feldman

“We tend to think of handbags and shoes as the dominate accessories,” says Holmgren. “Or as being what’s instantly thought of as accessories.”

Accessories Design Prof. Vasilios agrees with Feldman. “The students don’t realize the significance of belts in accessories design until they take Belt Design or the Accessories Sketching class where belts are introduced. Then they have a brainstorm: ‘Oh, I have them in my closet! They must be part of the accessories industry!'”

Homgren got a head start by taking Vasilios’ evening Accessories Sketching class and seeing the connection of belts to the rest of the accessories family.

“It’s line drawing, proportion, marker rendering techniques, the same as shoes and bags and all accessories, says Vasilios who is the creative director of RobertoVasi, a contemporary men’s shoe business.

Belts were never an afterthought for Holmgren, but neither is their construction since making her first jean belt in Feldman’s class.

“The creative aspect of product design accessories began to really appeal to me,” says Holmgren who has worked for eight years as an executive in product development for Perry Ellis and Ralph Lauren.

And she has ideas to express: “I found the market to be generic and safe in terms of design aesthetic. There’s a lot of room for creativity and more intricate designs for what’s offered.


The challenges to crafting her stunning but subdued looking belt (“My style is Parisian chic”) were many:

“The number one hardest thing in making a belt is cutting a straight long pattern,” she says.

Then come the crown jewels:

“Second is placement of your design details such as rivets, connectors, or applique on the belt itself.”

And then…

“It’s about getting the right consistency and feel and stuffiness. It needs to hug the contours of the body,” she says.

Correct says Vasilios “It requires a lot of fit testing. Compared to the shoe to the foot, a belt is to the waist.”


Photos provided by Mara Holmgren

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