Interview and words by James Sutton, British Actor.
Belt Designer Christian MacLeod originally wanted to be a professional golfer. Instead, he ended up building a worldwide belt empire with a firm fanbase from London, to Sydney, to Los Angeles.
He explains over coffee in the heart of Glasgow, “back when I was 16 years old, when I started CM, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My journey, my mistakes, with every secret in between has made CM a never ending rollercoaster that I never want to end.”
It’s Monday around noon, and Mr. CM has already had a busy morning, as he gets up at 6 a.m. everyday and heads into his belt studio after his daily morning workout. He’s just finished a meeting with his production team, discussing his upcoming big launch to mark his 10 year anniversary in summer 18’ with his limited edition belt design.
Christian was born on 28 November 1991 and was raised in Inverness, in the highlands of Scotland a young Christian MacLeod initially dreamed of becoming a professional golfer. However, that dream was brutally crushed at the age of 18 by a severe ankle break, which confined him into hospital for 4 months. He became a big lover of fashion on the golf course, but found that most golfers were wearing the same clothes, he started designing his own to stand out from the other golfers.
While Christian had a few short years in professional golf tournaments before his injury, he was wearing his own designs, but most important his own belt, his iconic CM initials. During his injury recovery he decided to turn his back on his professional golf career and focus entirely on changing the international perception of belts. Why belts though?
“I think it is every fashion persons love to have a successful international fashion label, but you do face some serious hurdles. As any young professional will know, no matter how good your designs are, you need cash!! You need a serious amount of it if you want to manufacture a full range, but at my young age of 16 when I started with my first belts, I had no cash, but I wanted to build a brand.
My game plan in my head was quite simple, in order to build my brand I needed more people to wear my designs, I needed more people to see it. If I designed a buckle and a belt that would give me the biggest advertisement on someones outfit, making the buckle my brand logo. Second from that, I needed to be on someones outfit seven days a week and if I designed shirts, they would wear it, then it would be washed, so I am only going to see that shirt one day of the week, if I’m lucky. But, if I design a belt, I am on your outfit seven days a week and for building a brand, I needed awareness of my designs and the only way could do that was a belt.”
Christian’s belts have now grown into an international attraction in the fashion world, and a must have accessory for both males and females with his belts being unisex. After having been in CM’s presence over the years, it was always crystal clear his source of positive energy, his youthful enthusiasm, energetic appearance and great story telling skills, Christian is a true entertainer.
His eye for detail is never ending, he explains to me that belt detail has always been missed out in outfits. “I remember asking myself in my teens, why do people spend so much money on watches, on shoes, on handbags, the accessories you wear seven days a week - but why not a belt? I used to always ask myself that question, then I realised that no one was putting detail into belts, it was all plain colours, plain buckles, nothing that caught anyones eye. It was looked at as an item that just ‘held your trousers up’ and my mission was to reinvent that and make belts as important as shoes, watches and handbags.
Christian turned 26 in November, and this year marks ’10 years of CM’, “back when I was sixteen, I quickly learnt to build a global brand was going to take me truly years of hard work, sleepless nights, with countless hours of design, networking and everything that goes with building a global business. When I was in my early twenties, I was very fortunate to have one to one meetings with Rebecca Farrar-Hockey - Creative Director of Kurt Gieger, Brian Duffy - CEO Watches of Switzerland, and Vanessa Kingori - British GQ. They all told me to build the brand I vision, would take me a minimum of ten years, so in my eyes I am just getting started. I having been waiting for this year to come for a long long time. Belt up!”