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crocodile hide

Know Your Leather: The Different Types of Shoe Leathers

When it comes to leather shoes, long gone are the days when footwear was just made out of calfskin. While cow hide is still the leader within the market today, there are several other types of leathers and animal hides that can be crafted to create a leather shoe. Unfortunately for owners, they require different types of care and are more appropriate under different conditions. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular choices:

cowhide

cowhide

Cowhide

Smooth calfskin accounts for the majority of leather shoe sales today. This is because the material is hardy, versatile, and very easy to care for. While it’s usually not a good idea to expose calfskin to harsher climates and wetter conditions, it can withstand light rainfall and general day-to-day outdoor conditions reasonably well. Cleaning calfskin is simple, too. Owners will just need a dollop of generic hide cleaning soap in order to clean and restore the natural oils to calfskin. This makes it a particularly good choice for those on a budget since calfskin-friendly products are readily available in large numbers. The price of calfskin has gone down quite a bit over recent years, too, which is making pebble grain varieties (a more coarse “premium” calfskin) more attractive to prospective buyers.



crocodile hide

crocodile hide

Reptile Leather

Aligator, crocodile hides, and lizard skins have been fashioned into leather shoes and these are becoming increasingly popular. They benefit from a natural water resistance that makes them more suitable for wetter climates, but many reptile hides are naturally porous and this doesn’t make them particularly water resistant. Owners can improve this by purchasing a waterproofing spray suitable for reptile skin and this solves many of the problems associated with wearing reptile hides in the rain. The main difference between reptile skins and calfskin is their ability to recolour. Calfskin can regain any lost color through repair creams. Once blemished, reptile skin will lose its colour permanently.



ostrich leather hide

ostrich leather hide

Ostrich

Another popular modern choice is ostrich. It has properties similar to napa leather, which has a natural softness that’s particularly beneficial to those wearing orthopaedic shoes or for mature diabetics requiring a soft, malleable leather in order to accommodate sudden swelling of the feet and ankles. It is easy to clean by using a napa hide balm, but isn’t recognized as particularly durable material and replacing this type of leather shoe is all too common at the moment after seemingly light to moderate wear.

Michael Snell

Loving father and husband