It’s no secret that I love belts. I think they’re a great way to add texture to an outfit, and update a dress or other article of clothing that otherwise feels boring or dated. They add shape (for those of us lacking a clearly defined waistline) and they’re an easy way to instantly transform an outfit into a look. Hence, we’re a little obsessed with the looped knot belt by Karl Muse. Its simple design gives it an understated elegance, and, because it doesn’t have a bulky buckle, it’s a cinch to wear.
Karl Muse began hand-making his belts in Peru in 2007, using a single piece of leather. The simple design references Scandanavian style and a bohemian lifestyle. Today, the collection includes cuffs and wider waist belts and is sold worldwide. I chatted with Karl Muse about his design inspiration and his new life in Peru.
Can you trace some of your early influences in craft and design?
My father was an artist as well as my younger sister. I have traveled around after leaving home spending two years in Europe while in the military. After leaving the military I spent some time living in Comox, Canada. I also lived in Florida for about 30 years. I recently moved to South America in the country of Peru.
I met my wife on the internet at an online dating site and we fell in love. She came to the USA, where we got married. She was not able to find employment so she returned to Peru. I decided to pull up roots and move to Peru so we could be together and that is where I am today. I am loving the food and visiting the beaches and jungle here.
What got you started on this creative path?
My father was a huge influence on me in many ways. Artistically he encouraged me to look at things from different points of view. Growing up with a German mother I did not live in a traditional American household in some sense. Father was always working on drawings, paintings and showing me how to design furniture, table lamps and other things. He taught me to learn and do things with my own hands whether it was fixing my own motorcycle or building things. My mother was designing and making her own dresses or knitting something. Sitting in traffic, I remember something my father gave me as a child. I decided to recreate that gift. I bought a piece of leather and made my first belt.
You’ve mentioned that most of your working life was spent in the corporate world and that you were not happy. Are you happier now that you’ve been making your belts?
I am having the time of my life. Our belts are in stores in seven countries. We estimate that I have made about 5000+ belts and shipped to people in 28 countries.
Muse belts and cuffs are available in-store and online here. We're excited to introduce a new 2" width belt that will be perfect for styling with shift dresses and loose cardigans.