COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO LEATHERS

Leather is one of the most versatile and perfect materials used in shoes. We're lucky its beauty matches its function in every way. Leather is breathable, flexible, lightweight, and strong. It will absorb moisture and protect your feet. Below find our comprehensive guide to the types of leather typically found in our shoes, the best in the world.

Calfskin

Leather made from the skins of young cattle, generally no older then 3-4 weeks. It is primarily used in better-grade men's and women's dress shoes. Calfskin leather is double or more than the cost of side leather.

Advantages
• Very lightweight yet strong
• Has a high ability to resist minor scuffing
• Beautiful grain (fine and firm)
• Highly porous
• Has excellent conformability
• Distinctive look
• Takes and holds a shine
• Great Color Depth

Veal

Leather made from the skins of older cattle, generally 3-6 months. It is primarily used in casual styles of footwear. Veal is rich in character with a coarser grain than calfskin. 

Advantages
• Breathability
• Distinctive grain and character
• Accepts a wide range of finishes
• Conformability
• Distinctive look
• Takes and holds a shine
• Great Color Depth

Kidskin Leather

Leather made from the skin of young or mature goats. Kidskin is more expensive than side leather but less expensive than calf. It is primarily used on women's better-grade dress shoes.

Kidskin finished on the flesh side for use in footwear is commonly called SUEDE. Suede or sueding is a process of sandpapering, abrading a hide or skin. Sueded kidskin (kidskin suede) is developed through a specially created series of treatments with natural and chemical materials and solutions. 

Advantages
• Very lightweight 
• Very strong 
• Very soft and porous 
• Very resilient 
• Great latitude of design

Pigskin Leather

Pigskin leather for use in footwear is produced from the skins of domestic pigs and hogs. Most pigskin leather in footwear is sueded or "brushed" on the grain side.

Pigskin leather's affinity for dyes makes possible a wide range of colors that are used in volume fashion shoes and boots not only in women's but also in men's and children's styles. This special signature of nature makes pigskin leather easily distinguishable as well as distinctive.

Advantages
• Durable
• Supple
• Breathable
• Flexible
• Lightweight
• Extremely porous

Full Grain Side Leather

Side leather used for shoe uppers is the most versatile leather used. It is also used for other parts including linings.

Shoe upper leather consists of the hair side of cattle hides. The name side leather originated from dividing a hide along the backbone into two halves or "sides". This is the most commonly used shoe upper leather.

Full grain and top grain are the same. Natural hide surface is developed with finishing from premium hides.

Advantages
• Very serviceable
• Breathability
• Conformability
• Has good aesthetics
• Responds to fashion trends

Exotic Leathers

The main types of exotic leathers are crocodile, alligator, lizard, and snake. Most skins are imported and are very expensive. 

Crocodile skins come from species legally farmed and harvested usually in Indo-Australia, New Guinea or South Africa. Crocodile appears very similar to alligator in appearance.

Lizard skins have a distinctive surface and are imported from tropical countries. 

Ostrich skins come from commercial ranch raised birds. Ostrich skins are soft and comfortable. 

Shark has a natural grain finish which is extremely resistant to abrasion and scuffing.

Nubuc

A slightly buffed version of side leather. Split Leather or Brushed Leather. Split leather is created when thick cattle sides are machine split to obtain a desired side leather thickness. The top portion is the grain layer; the bottom or underneath is the split layer and referred to as "split".

Split leather is chrome tanned and generally comparatively lightweight. To the unpracticed eye, it may be difficult to identify split leather from reverse side leather. More than likely footwear with split leather uppers will be priced lower.

Advantages
• Can be used for both insoles & outsoles
• Lightweight
• Flexible
• Good color density
• Select grain appearance

Patent Leather

Patent leather refers to the finish produced by covering the surface of leather with successive coats of daub and varnish. Used almost exclusively in dress shoes.

 

Finishes

Wax Finish: A leather with a wax finish has had wax worked into the leather to add weight. The result is a distinctive finish often used in casual styles.

Antiqued Leather: The leather is sprayed with a contrasting color to create highlights.