Leather Bracelets: Origin, Meaning, and Importance

 Tuesday Bote - Dec 23, 2020


Elegant in its simplicity, the Oliver Cabell Leather Wrap can be used to complement an outfit in neutral hues

In recent years, we have seen a resurgence in the popularity of leather bracelets, especially among men in their mid-20s to late 30s. While you would normally see these bracelets adorning the arms of surfer-types, bikers, adventurers, and even rock band members, a lot of male executives of a certain age have taken to wearing them with their office suits.

There is just something very masculine about the addition of an accessory that is essentially tough and rugged – practically a throwback to less genteel times – to well-curated outfits that exude sartorial elegance. It ought to have a jarring effect on the eye, but it doesn’t: adding a leather bracelet to a suit-and-trousers combo actually enhances the outfit’s overall elegance.

It should be noted at this point that, while certainly au courant and fashionable, leather bracelets for men have been around for almost as long as human civilization, as seen in the artifacts unearthed in many ancient archeological sites. In this article, learn the history, meaning, and importance of wearing leather bracelets.

How long have leather bracelets been around?

While no one is certain as to where leather bracelets originally came from, it is safe to say that they have been around – at the very least – since the Neolithic period (10,000-4,500 BCE). Around this time, humans already knew how to use animal skins for clothing and footwear; but the technological innovation of tanning (curing animal hides to make them more pliable and more comfortable to handle) led to the development of more sophisticated designs for footwear and physical ornamentation. 

Experts say that leather bracelets may have evolved from longer leather sleeves, greaves, and shin-guards worn to protect your limbs from the elements or attackers. Over time, their practical usage would give way to a more esoteric use: marking one’s status in society or making a social or political statement. 

Consider, in this case, the following examples:

  • Among the personal adornments found in Tutankhamen’s tomb were several gold-embossed or silver-embellished leather cuffs that denoted his status as Pharaoh – Egypt’s king and living god;
  • In Ancient Greece and, much later, throughout the Roman Empire, leather bracelets were issued to soldiers as part of their official uniform. The size, width, and thickness of these leather bands would depend on a soldier’s rank within the force;
  • While not an accessory but more of a votive adornment, observant Jews have been wearing leather bands called shel-yad one end of which terminates in one of two tefillin (phylacteries holding tiny scrolls of Scripture; the other one is strapped to a man’s head) since the Biblical era. These are worn for morning prayers on weekdays; 
  • The historical Spartacus wore a plain leather band around his right wrist to denote his status as a rebel against the stifling slavery laws of the Roman Empire – possibly the first historical instance of the use of clothing to make a political or social statement – and his innate power as a man;
  • Leather cuffs – some simply studded with metal buttons or embellished more elaborately to denote a wearer’s social standing – were also part of warrior garb worn by barbarian or nomadic tribes such as the Vikings, Huns, Goths, and Mongols. These were, of course, more than just embellishments: they also served a practical purpose for protecting body parts not usually covered by armor such as one’s forearms and wrists;
  • Among different Native American tribes, leather bracelets had a shamanic overtone. Warriors, medicine men, and spirit women would wear leather wristlets to feel a stronger and more meaningful connection with their spirit guides or totem animals;
  • More recently, from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, leather bracelets became an anti-establishment accessory of the hippie movement: a softer, less staid alternative to metal wristwatches and jewelry.

What are the different types of leather bracelet?

In the modern context, leather bracelets are worn by both men and women more for personal embellishment than anything more practical. The shape, size, and overall appearance of these bracelets reflects the wearer’s personality, taste, social standing, and even their lifestyle choices. 

With its slender size and minimalist aesthetic, the Gordon bracelet in black is a great way to add a subtle touch of ruggedness to even the most citified outfits


Most of today’s men’s leather bracelets fall into three categories:

  • Wide Bands or Cuffs call to mind big, burly, and muscular types or creatives whose aesthetic runs to a darker slant: hard-core bikers and heavy metal musicians, for the most part. While many leather cuffs tend to be plain black items with silvered metal buckling, these can be given a more elaborate – even intimidating – appearance. This look is achieved through the use of silver or stainless steel chains, studs, or even charms with a sinister motif such as skulls and horns. Some athletes, particularly those in sports where the hands are active such as tennis or even basketball, opt to wear them instead of elastic terrycloth-wrapped wristbands. These offer better support for movement and injury prevention.
  • Strap Bracelets are normally worn to complement wristwatches or – among the less time-conscious – replace watches all together as one’s accessory of choice. These are considered a great way to add a strong masculine touch to an outfit without being too in-the-face, and are appealing (and comfortable) enough to be worn with one’s office wardrobe. These may come in the form of a single narrow band or a combination of two bands looped together with a metal charm.
  • Rope-style Bracelets used to be considered standard among non-conformist types such as surfers and skaters. Today, however, their sartorial value has improved: many fashion-forward men and especially social media influencers have been sporting rope-type or woven leather bracelets. These accessories give their overall look a sense of casual elegance or a touch of playful fun.

Are there any meanings behind leather bracelets?

It isn’t so much the form, but more of the color of a man’s bracelet that has a meaning. For those who take the “psychology of color” seriously, the color of a leather bracelet says a lot about the man wearing it.

  • Black: As with conventional fashion, sober black is all business and responsibility. It symbolizes power and strength, particularly if paired with a touch of gold or silver. However, if so embellished, it could also exude an air of mystery, even dominance and rage.
  • Brown: Like a good pair of lumberjack or hiking boots, a brown leather bracelet adds an aura of practicality to its wearer. Stolid and practical, but never boring, it also calls to mind the great outdoors and a spirit of adventure.
  • Dark Green: While not a strictly conventional color, dark green in a leather bracelet is soothing and calm to look at. It is a color with a distinct serenity that goes well with men who are in touch with their gentler, more tranquil side, and who live in close contact with nature.

What type of leather bracelet should you get?

Wear just one, or stack them on your arm, Oliver Cabell Leather Wrap bracelets are a fun addition to a weekend outfit or one for a night out with the gang

Best known for footwear of exceptional quality, Oliver Cabell is also making a name for itself in the field of men’s accessories. Using the same ethically-sourced and worked leathers it uses for its sneakers and boots, the company also offers two distinctive leather bracelet styles for gentlemen of good taste and discernment.

  • Leather Wrap

Featuring two leather bands held together with a silver label charm/clasp, these bracelets are an excellent addition to one’s office outfits. Casual yet sophisticated all at once, the Leather Wrap adds a subtle ruggedness to even the most citified urban warrior’s look – a suggestion of intensity and focus that is most appealing to those who see it.

  • Gordon

A rope-type bracelet with an unusual clasp rendered in black steel, silver, or gold, this is not your typical beachcomber’s accessory. Rather, it brings the outdoors inside and gives it an air of mature sophistication and elegance. A great addition to casual outfits or a subtly wild touch to anything more formal.

Oliver Cabell: Going Beyond Fine Shoemaking and Accessory Craft

In its Black incarnation, the Gordon rope-type bracelet is a subtle yet sophisticated addition to both office and outing wear

When you think of quality when it comes to footwear and accessories, the name Oliver Cabell should come first in your mind.

While one of the younger brands in today’s highly competitive fashion industry, it has undoubtedly made a name for itself by delivering on the promise of high-quality shoes and boots. Its footwear and accessories are made according to traditional and time-proven Italian methods by master artisans who have honed their skills over years of practice. More recently, its foray into the accessories scene has resulted in equally exceptional products ranging from casual jewelry and practical yet stylish items such as card holders.

More than that, Oliver Cabell prides itself on ethical production practices that value the welfare of workers and artisans and the use of sustainably sourced materials to make items that are much kinder to and safer for the world in which we live.