has anyone owned or handled both brooks brothers and alden shell belts? i just got my bb belt from their holiday sale and it's a bit thinner/flimsier than i had hoped it would be for the price. i haven't handled an alden shell belt though, so this may be par for the course. thanks in advance!
I own a lot of Alden shell cordovan belts, and they are well built, and hefty. They made 2 versions, one was the standard 1.25" and the other was 1.5" and considered more casual. I also own the BB belt which is made in Canada. I have several of the Horween 1 piece shell cordovan belts. I like all of them, and prefer the Alden from an overall durability standpoint. They are a very solid belt. I would give the Horween and BB a tie on durability. I own a lot of expensive belts and the durability aspect IMHO comes from the strap used behind the shell cordovan. The quality of the leather strap varies a lot by belt makers, but long term it determine how the belt holds up. Another factor are the buckles. I've not owned any of these belts but a few years and have enough to rotate often so I can't say long term how well the buckle finish will last. Most shell belts are 3 piece and I think BB does a better job from a looks perspective where the pieces meet. However I don't have an issue with the Alden version, but agree it makes it a little more casual. The point at which the pieces meet are a lot less viable on black and #8 than whiskey and cigar. The thing I like most about my whiskey and cigar Alden belts is character they show, and color variance in the pieces of shell.
In regards to buying an Alden belt...good luck! I got super lucky and found some last year on my quest to buy shell shoes and always asked about belts too. I've not found anymore since then and was told by every place I called that they had not got any Alden belts in 2-3 years.
If you can catch the Brooks Brothers belts on sale (I got mine for $148.80) I think that will be hard to beat.
Another option which just arrived today is Coronado leather. This belt is marked CXL horsehide on the invoice and it's available in 1.5" and 1.75". Its built like a tank, and a great casual belt. Cost was $145 for 1.75" I plan to wear this belt with jeans on my casual days. FYI-the belt uses Chicago screws so the buckle is easily changed.