I first came across Voyej back in 2011 when fellow mynudies forum member Stephen Lucas founded the brand as a project with some like-minded friends. Having shared our mutual love of leather goods via the forum during the golden years of the workwear/denim revival, I was asked to review their original belt, the Chahin I roller buckle belt, shortly after Voyej began its journey.
The Chahin I belt, in my humble opinion, offered great value and was a preferred alternative to the more utilitarian belts such as those made by Sugar Cane, Obbi Good Label or Tanner Goods which were popular among leather newbies at the time (2010-2011).
Now, 6 years later, I am very glad to share with you Voyej’s newest belt, the Chahin IV! Let’s have a look at how things have changed over these years.
The belt comes carefully parceled, delivered quickly via EMS.
Along with the belt, Voyej provides a nice cotton storage bag and a certificate/manual/maintenance diary for those just starting their leather journey.
Certainly a comprehensive starter pack. The written information, in particular, demonstrates the fact that Voyej is very much a brand that is run by leather geeks, for leather geeks.
You might have already figured out that the Chahin series of belts are named after Industrias Chahin de Orizaba SA de CV, the well known tannery in Mexico that produces the heavy steerhide used for this belt.
This is their 13 oz (measured 5.0 mm) natural vegetable tanned skirting leather, using rawhide from the USA. In my experiences this leather ages with a very nice red tone; just have a look at how my Chahin I belt has aged so far in this earlier post.
This leather undergoes a 4 week vegetable tanning process, and offers very good value for money compared with natural vegetable leathers produced in other parts of the world.
It has a supple temper and a smooth hand. Looking in closely with my macro lens, the grain is a little bit flatter and more compressed compared with more expensive leathers that go through a slower vegetable tanning process, though the trademark red tone cannot be beat!
The leather on my belt happens to be a noticeably more red compared with the usual natural colour – given that veg tanned leather is a natural product, this variation is understandable. I suspect, given the darker than natural colour and the very flexible temper, this leather may have been additionally finished after the tanning process.
One key aspect of this Chahin saddle leather I should mention is the fact that the natural version is beginner friendly. In fact, it is one of the best for people who are new to natural veg tanned leathers. This is due to the Chahin leather being easy to ‘evolve’, producing a nice colour during aging under most circumstances – a gradual browning with a nice peach/red tone – unlike other natural leathers which might produce, IMO, ugly palettes of brown if not handled properly.
The backside of the leather is smoothly finished, allowing the belt to slide over the denim waistband without too much friction.
Styling, Details & Construct
For this fourth iteration of the Chahin belt, Voyej aimed at moving the product closer to the roots of the workwear trend, taking inspiration from older, more militaristic & rugged styles of belting.
Everything from the hefty brass hardware to the thick, 1.5 inch strap pays homage to work belts of the past. This is probably the most rugged looking Chahin belt produced so far.
The sturdy, solid brass buckle is custom made for Voyej, and takes the basic form of a double-prong garrison with the accented left edge being sloped. All the edges and sides are smoothly finished, meaning the buckle will not scratch the leather.
Further, the brass is smooth yet unpolished, which I predict will result in a patina that is greater in quantity and quality. The prong holes are neatly cut, and the individual prongs do not move around too much, the buckle fold not flaring out either – more carefully made compared with the double-prong Kawatako belt reviewed last year!
For the stitching, Voyej has opted for minimalist hand-stitching this time. One of my recommendations regarding the original Chahin I belt was to revise the vertical stitchings, and I am glad to see the stitch layout being improved for Chahin III, and now IV.
The leather at the fold is gently skived and smoothly burnished, so that the head of the belt is not too thick or unwieldy. The side-profile featured in the photo below looks very neat indeed.
The Chahin IV continues with the use of artificial sinew threads, neatly hand-sewn and tied-off. In the photo below, you can see how the edges are smoothly wax-burnished – there is no fluff at all!
Twin rows of tear-drop shaped holes to match the double-prong buckle, the holes being evenly spaced along both planes and smoothly finished.
The tip of the belt is very interesting, featuring a pointed tip which is double-skived. This feature is neatly executed, although I have never used a leather item with this type of skiving before, so I can’t predict how this might wear over time.
Voyej’s logo is nicely and evenly debossed at the tip.
Looking more closely at the edges too, you can appreciate how much effort and attention has been paid to the burnishing. Very smooth indeed!
At $75 USD, not many other belts in the same price bracket can offer a similar level of quality – both in terms of material and craftsmanship – as Voyej’s Chahin belts.
I am very glad to see that the hardware quality and stitching lay-out have improved since I last reviewed a Chahin belt back in 2011, and that the pricing of the belts remain very competitive without sacrificing any crafting aspects of hand-made belts.
In fact, whilst many brands which sell their belts for below $100 USD take significant short-cuts (using poor quality veg tan leather, not burnishing the edges properly, using cheaply plated hardware, using crappy screws instead of hand-stitch, etc), Voyej is able to differentiate itself by offering these Chahin belts that are free of these fundamental compromises.
Further, I have to say that, even though hand-made products from South East Asia (specifically Indonesia in our case) don’t usually have the same renown or assumed prestige as those made in America or Japan, Voyej’s products compare very well against many popular leather brands from other countries.
I can confidently recommend the Chahin IV belt, especially to people who are new to the leather hobby or those with a budget of < $100 USD. To have a look at the Chahin IV and their other offerings, check out the Voyej webstore.
Given that the colour on my Chahin I belt has turned out quite nicely, I have high hopes for this Chahin IV belt – updates to come over the next months 🙂