Just as relevant on the runway now as it was in the first women’s collections 30 years ago, the concho belt remains an integral part of the Ralph Lauren wardrobe. Whether it’s an oversize turquoise-and-black concho belt slung over a body-conscious black dress for the evening or a weathered cognac-and-silver style cinched over a Beacon sweater and classic blue jeans for the day, this finishing touch is as versatile as it is timeless.
The concho belt as we know it today was created in the 1870s by the Navajo, who took their inspiration from Mexican bridle decorations and hair ornaments worn by the Plains Indians while also incorporating the unique leather-stamping techniques of the Spaniards and Moors. The silver disks, called conchos or conchas—the Spanish word for shells—were often crafted by hammering Mexican and U.S. silver dollars. These first-phase concho belts were simple in design and featured a slotted center through which a leather belt could be threaded.
In the 1890s, Navajo artisans used new soldering techniques to attach copper loops to the back of the conchos, which in turn eliminated the need to thread the belt through the disks and created greater opportunity for embellishment. During this time, oval- and diamond-shaped patterns and large rosettes appeared on the center of these disks, giving the concho a more ornate look.
A major evolution of the belt came in the early 1900s when buckles, turquoise stones and vertical plaques, known as butterfly spacers, began to appear. By the 1920s, tourists were purchasing these elaborate styles, leading the Navajo silversmiths to experiment with even greater variations in design.
In the Ralph Lauren seasonal collections, concho belts range from rugged first-phase-inspired styles to more elaborate turquoise forms crafted in the spirit of the conchos from the 1920s. A study in craftsmanship, authenticity and the rugged, artisanal spirit of the American West, the concho belt is an indisputable RL Classic.
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