About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the HVAC/Plumbing industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, raw denim, and working on his
dad bod father figure.
NOTE: This belt was originally supposed to be reviewed along with their jeans and t-shirt. But… #2020 happened, and the belt got held up/disappeared into the void/they thought they ran out of stock. Thought it was a goner, so, we ran the jeans and tee review. Yet miracle of miracles, it showed! So, here’s a solo review of just the belt.
Leather belts are a dime a dozen, ranging from those “100% leather” $10 belts at Target to Joe’s $40 favorite from Gap. I’m a firm believer in that every man, woman, and child needs a simple, but solid brown leather belt. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; it just needs to do its job and do it well for many years. Where’s the line of diminishing returns at? What separates one brown leather belt from another similar one? Well, hopefully by comparing this Dearborn Denim belt ($45) against a Tanner Goods belt ($105), we’ll have a good look at exactly where your money is going.
About Adam’s Scoring System, The Adam Review Scale of Excellence (A.R.S.E.)
- 5 – Excellent! No issues and highly recommended.
- 4 – Good. Above average, but not perfect.
- 3 – Average. Minor issues, might be good at the right price.
- 2 – Fair. Below average due to defects, flaws, or imperfections.
- 1 – Poor. Significant issues, not worth purchasing at any price.
Quarter inch thick Horween bullhide.
- Style: Roller buckle
- Size: 36
- Construction: Brass rivets
- Leather: Horween bull hide in burgundy Color #8
- Details: Solid antiqued brass roller buckle and keeper loop, English pointed end
- Country of Origin: USA (Chicago, IL)
- Price: $45
Originally ordered back in mid-July, this once-in-a-century pandemic affected Dearborn’s supply chains and they were out of stock and ran out of materials to make more. Miraculously, three days afterwards they messaged saying they recovered some belts from their brick and mortar stores and would be shipping it out pronto. It was shipped via USPS Priority and arrived just two days later. Hooray!
FYI: Dearborn Denim has a simple 30-day return policy for unworn, unwashed merchandise. Exchanges are free, but returns will set you back $7 USD to pay for the return shipping and restocking.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Easy ordering and fast shipping. No knocks for a small delay during a pandemic.
The belt shipped coiled up in a 4″x4″x4″ brown cardboard box. No frills, but you’re not paying for any.
Score: 5/5 Stars – I don’t need accessories or fancy packaging with a belt at this price point.
Pointed end stamped with Dearborn’s logo: the Chicago star
Fresh out of the box, the SMELL of the leather and oils is intoxicating! Horween’s leathers have a unique smell that’s right up there for me with the scents of bourbon, loose tobacco, and tea leaves. If you enjoy walking into a fine leather goods shop, you’ll definitely appreciate this belt.
Speaking of the leather, Dearborn says they use Horween’s bull hide and I believe them. Measuring just over a quarter-inch thick, this is one of the thickest leather belts I’ve ever held in my hands. I’m fairly certain this is a slab of Horween’s infamous Chromexcel which has a wonderful reputation for aging gracefully. This particular belt has some sections of very, very light loose grain which may develop some slight wrinkles across the width of the belt. For reference, my Tanner Goods belt is made from English bridle leather and has some spots of this loose grain structure too, but is a bit thinner overall.
Edge finishing comparison. Dearborn is lightly burnished. Pretty raw.
Tanner Goods is hand dyed, burnished and waxed smooth. It also costs 2x as much.
The roller buckle is made from antiqued solid brass and feels substantial. It’s secured to the slab of leather by two matching antiqued brass rivets. The buckle is not removable. Most leather belts have a leather keeper loop to tie up the excess length, but Dearborn opted for a matching antiqued brass loop. You might think this is a cheaper option or cost cutting, and you might be right, but personally I like it. It feels like it’s a bit easier to slip the belt’s stamped tail into the keeper. Especially when you’re rushing to put your pants on when you see your toddler walking towards the doggo with a Sharpie! By comparison, my Tanner Goods belt has a copper roller buckle, copper rivets, and a normal leather keeper loop.
One noticeable difference between the two belts is the finishing around the edges. The Dearborn belt seems like it was lightly burnished – smoothed edges but you can tell they’re still “raw” and not polished. There’s nothing wrong with this, but my Tanner Goods belt has edges that are hand dyed, burnished, and waxed smooth. The difference here is like the difference between taking your car through one of those automated car washes versus having someone detail it by hand. You can tell Tanner Goods pays a bit more attention to the details (as they should if they’re going to charge $105!).
Score: 3/5 Stars – Not bad! Leather is above average, keeper loop is OK, but finishing is just average.
Solid antiqued brass buckle, rivets, and keeper.
So, I ordered my usual belt size of 36 using the tried and true method of pants size + 2. Unfortunately, this particular belt is too long; I’m on the very last hole and this leather from Horween is known to stretch a bit over time. I would suggest going with your normal pants size and expect a bit of stretch.
By comparison, my W.H. Earl and Tanner Goods belts in size 36 fit correctly with the buckle tongue slotting into the middle of the five holes.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Belt is cut too long; suggest going with your pant waist size.
Belt seems to run long. Try ordering your normal pants size? Not pants size +2.
For under $50, I don’t think there are many belts that can compete with this one from Dearborn Denim. The Horween-sourced leather is beefy, the hardware is serviceable, and it’s made in the USA. This knocks Joe’s favorite from Gap to the curb (live look at Joe right now) and could easily replace the ones I have from Gustin, W.H. Earl, or Tanner Goods. I definitely recommend checking this one out if you’re in the market for a simple, sturdy brown belt and you appreciate American-made accessories.
Avg. Score: 4.25/5 Stars – Pretty dang good for the price! Highly recommended.
Shout out: Big thanks to reader Brian C. for the tip on Dearborn!