We’ve been talking about who you are, the Contorno Belt woman, for weeks now. You are a busy, confident, independent, working woman. You want to look sexy, fashionable and stylish, but you don’t have hours to commit to putting unique looks together daily.
We want to introduce you to the creative force behind the Contorno Belt brand, Andrea Herrmann. Andrea not only created Contorno Belts, she embodies the true essence and spirit of exactly who you are and what Contorno Belts represent.
CB: Andrea, tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
AH: I am from the south of Brazil and moved to the United States to go to school back in 1996. I fell in love with the country and decided to stay here for good, doing my best to develop my corporate career. I had a great time, travelled the world for business and met some amazing people. But in the back of my head, I always had the desire to work on something creative, hopefully related to fashion, that could lead to a wonderful cycle of positive impact.
CB: Why did you decide to create a line of belts as an accessory and not jewelry or handbags?
AH: I have always had a big collection of belts, and they are definitely my go-to accessory for when I need to give a special touch to an outfit. As a busy working mom of two, as many of you are, I often catch myself running to my belt collection to add a bit of flair to whatever I am wearing. However, there was a time, not too long ago, when belts were purely an afterthought for most women —something to just keep your favorite jeans in the perfect spot or perhaps to define your waist in a dress. Fast-forward to 2020, and belts are taking center stage on outfits across the board.
CB: Are there any misconceptions of wearing belts?
AH: Absolutely. Women think they need to be very thin to wear a belt. That is not true. In fact, I wore belts throughout my entire pregnancies! Women need to know how to wear a belt. When you wear a belt at the thinnest part of your midsection, it will cinch that part of your waist, and it will make you look smaller. Belts are for everyone of all sizes.
CB: When you decided to create a line of stylish belts, did you find there was a lot of competition?
AH: It is very obvious there is a lack of stylish belts; in fact, I can’t think of one brand that delivered what I was looking for myself. I did extensive market research, and did find 2 or 3 other brands, but I felt they were either too expensive for day-to-day wear, or they were too narrowly focused on a younger set. I couldn’t find a belt for myself. I wanted to create a line for women on-the-go: who get up early to get the kids off to school, then go to work, then socialize in the evening after putting the kids to bed.
CB: So who is the ideal woman you are targeting to wear Contorno Belts?
AH: Women like myself; I know many women can relate to my life. This woman may be raising a family while being active in the community, travels on business or pleasure regularly, and never stops. I designed these belts ultimately for myself, but I knew I wasn’t alone having a busy lifestyle. These are women who like to be stylish, who like fashion, but do not have that extra time to put the right outfit together.
CB: Do you think most people realize the importance of a belt in putting together a stylish outfit?
AH: Absolutely not. There is a misconception of belts that they only can be worn with pants, for example. Women need to be taught how to wear a belt. I mostly wear my belts with dresses. It’s an easy accessory, yet can completely change an outfit. But, also, I am the queen of jeans and a white T-shirt. Adding a belt automatically gives me a flair and gives me style.
CB: We have been discussing the Contorno Belt woman. Who do you think this woman is?
AH: Confident and cool, in an easy-going way. These are women who are successful both at home and at work, and they do not need to make a big statement about their confidence and independence. They are subtle and casual, edgy and rock-and-roll. They don’t need to hit anyone over the head with who they are. Nor do they have time. They have a busy lifestyle. They know who they are. That’s all that matters.
CB: Do you have any future plans for the brand?
AH: Yes. We have exciting new designs we will be launching this spring: all of our belts and buckles will be interchangeable. This will bring tremendous flexibility as you will be able to mix-and-match the leather belts with the various buckles we offer.
For example, this new design will make it easy for business travelers who pack lightly (as I learned to do). You can pack one leather belt and 2 buckles only, and that can create many options for many different outfits for both work and play. I believe in slow fashion — high value, durability and flexibility. Our belts are a fashion accessory that will last. This new design will give women many affordable, quick options.
CB: You donate proceeds from every sale to charitable organizations. Tell us about that.
AH: We currently partner with Dress for Success, a fantastic charity that focuses on helping women re-enter into the workforce or get a better paying job. They offer interview training, resume building, and advice on what to wear professionally, as clothes get donated. The goal is to help these women have a better future financially. The fact that fashion is indirectly involved in this process is full-circle for me giving back to the less-fortunate. This is very important to me.
CB: What is the inspiration for your designs?
AH: There are a couple things. First, as I am from Brazil, and I grew up in a tropical country, we are not afraid to use color and patterns in our fashion. Brands in Brazil take chances and are vibrant and lively. We embrace being stylish and taking risks. When I was a business traveller around the world, I would always be complimented on the Brazilian flair I had in my wardrobe.
Secondly, I have a passion and inspiration from old vintage belts and accessories. For example, my mother, who is an artist, took pictures of a beautiful brooch from an old art book. That became the inspiration of one of my designs.
CB: How would you describe where belts fit into the fashion spectrum?
AH: Belts are the forgotten accessory. I want to bring them back.
CB: Give us 5 words to describe Contorno Belts:
AH: 1. Stylish. 2. Quality 3. Confident 4. Functional 5. Memorable
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