Not always. I have a similar issue in that I have a high instep so I never get a small v-gap, even with well-fitting shoes. If I close the gap then the rest of the fitting for the shoe gets screwed up.
At the Rack I once purchased a $100+ Hugo Boss belt for $5.00 and a Canali shirt for $5.00. The clerk told me that some items which don't sell go to a Rack store in/near Phoenix called Last Chance. When something doesn't sell there it goes back to the Rack and is $5.00 regardless of what it is. I imagine that was the case here.
I don't have the ability to take a picture right now but my bourbon Manistee belt is considerably darker than the belt in your picture and also considerably darker than my bourbon Macs. Went to wear it today and thought it just didn't look right so I wore a simple AE brown belt instead.
Ditto. I have the natural tan version and I'm very surprised at how much they've darkened over the two years I've had them. As well, they have a dirty look to them despite having taken excellent care of them. I'd be much happier if they would have stayed closer to the color when I got them (even the guy at the AE store was surprised at how much they had changed).