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Types Of Leather On Shoes That You Should Know

14 Mar 2023

Leather is a popular material, especially for footwear. It's resistant to both weather and everyday use, so it's a good investment. It also doesn't easily scratch or scuff. Because they stretch and form to your feet over time, leather shoes tend to be the most comfortable option.

The right pair of leather shoes can take you from casual to formal in no time. There is a wide range of styles, hues, and patterns to choose from. Interestingly, over time, they can acquire a character-defining patina that only adds to their value. Features like these help justify the price tag, making them a worthwhile investment. So if you're in the market for some high-quality leather footwear, I recommend checking out the leather boots at Brand House Direct and other retailers of a similar ilk.

Most leather used to make shoes is stretched over a last (a wooden or plastic form in the general shape of a foot) instead of being cut to shape like other leather goods like furniture, coats, purses, etc. The leather's thickness must be suitable for this purpose. Furthermore, the type and quality of the shoe are determined by the type of leather used. Let's investigate the best leathers for footwear.

Types Of Leather On Shoes

1.Calf leathe

Calf leathe

The vast majority of dress shoes are made from this leather. This is because calfskin is incredibly comfortable to wear and lasts for a long time. Traditionally, leather has been sourced from animals younger than a year, but this age restriction has been relaxed over the years. It used to be that only hides from animals younger than six months could be called calf leather, but these days even though smaller hides are often called babycalf and the smaller ones in general come from New Zealand, in France they still have to be younger than eight months.

All the leather used for shoes and clothing comes from cattle that were slaughtered for food. Calfskin with a chrome grain is easy to maintain with leather care products like shoe polish and creams. By sanding the grain side, we get nubuck, and by sanding the flesh side, we get suede.

2. Cow and ox leather

Hides from cows and oxen are much stronger and thicker than those from calves. Full-grown animals have been through more in their lifetimes, making it more difficult to find flawless skins. Despite this, their skins are commonly used for a variety of applications, including tougher boots and cheaper shoes (this to be able to use the split separately and get more leather out of each hide).

3. Pigskin Leather

Pigskin Leather

As for your second question, yes, this is the same stuff that goes into making footballs. To be clear, "the old pigskin" refers to the same material used in shoemaking. Pigskin leather is commonly used in the manufacture of footballs, as well as footwear and accessories. Pigskin leather's adaptability and longevity have made it a popular choice among leathers in recent years. There's also the fact that modern technology has enabled the creation of machines that can prepare pigskin for chrome tanning. Sueding refers to the process of brushing the grain side of pigskin leather, which is the side that is typically used when making shoes. Pigskin leather is a good material for making shoes because it readily absorbs dyes. This means that pigskin leather shoes, unlike those made from some other leathers, often come in a wider variety of colors.

4. Crocodile and alligator leather

The most common areas of crocodile and alligator skin used are the bellies and sides because of their pliability and softness. Even though crocodiles and alligators were once in danger of extinction, thanks to the efforts of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), their populations have rebounded strongly. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (which states that consumers should only purchase CITES-approved exotic leathers) was implemented in the 1970s.

Only crocodile skin from certified farms in places like Australia, Asia, and South Africa is used to make footwear and other accessories. An exquisite and pricey leather, often considered the epitome of luxury.

5. Ostrich leather

Ostrich leather

Leather that is both soft and supple, with a unique appearance thanks to the circular ridges that once held the ostrich feathers. Shoes made from ostrich leather are highly breathable and pliable, making them ideal for long periods of wear. Ostrich hides are also obtained from captive-bred birds. They can be purchased for a price that is not prohibitive.

6. Snake Skin Leather

Snake skin is often used as an exotic fabric. Snake skin has been popular for footwear for quite some time due to its durability. The distinctive patterns of the python and the rattlesnake make them popular choices for snake skin shoes. Shoes and boots made from snake skin can be quite expensive, but their timeless style and durability make them well worth the cost.

7. Synthetic Leathers

We would be negligent if we didn't discuss synthetic leathers in this discussion of materials used in shoemaking. Shoes constructed from synthetic leathers are desirable for a variety of reasons. The fact that they cost less and don't contain any animal by-products are two of the most popular arguments for buying them. Although synthetic leather has come a long way in terms of aesthetic shoe design, it still can't compare to real leather in terms of flexibility, softness, or quality. Genuine leather footwear is not only more comfortable, but also improves in wear.

8. Chamois

In Europe, chamois was originally made from the skin of a mountain goat. Nowadays, the meaty underside of sheepskins is used to make chamois. It resembles suede to some extent but is not the same thing. When the grain is removed via sanding and buffing, the split in the flesh becomes visible.

Although chamois maintains its suppleness, it is not quite as sleek as suede. Its nap is shorter and more porous, making it an excellent water absorbent. These are commonly fabricated into automobile and shoe polishing mops. Chamois is a delicate leather that must go through a lengthy oil tanning process. It lasts a long time without being tarnished and looks good as-is.

9. Nubuck


Nubuck is made from genuine cowhide leather. The grain is removed from the hide and used to make this product. It has been lightly sanded to create a plush nap, but the grain actually makes it stronger and more water-repellent. Nubuck is frequently a superb compromise between the qualities of suede and leather. It has the luxurious feel of suede and the toughness of leather.

10. Shell Cordovan

Luxury shoe leather doesn't get much better than Shell Cordovan. This leather does not begin as leather; only after about six months of processing can it be called leather. Vegetable tanning is a multi-stage process.

Shell Cordovan comes from the membrane of a horse's hindquarters and is extremely dense and fibrous. The city of Cordoba, Spain, can claim credit for its creation. Not only are no wrinkles or pores apparent, but it also never wrinkles.

It develops waves over time and, if maintained properly, can last for decades. It can withstand rain and other wet conditions without breaking down. It's not easy to dye, and there aren't that many color options to begin with. Boots and dress shoes made from the extremely rare and expensive Shell Cordovan leather.

11. Camel Leather

The leather from a camel is not like the leather from other animals. You can only use the hide of a camel that has died of natural causes. Locations in Africa and some parts of Asia are its primary homes.

In their native lands, camels are highly prized. When properly cared for, camel leather can last for years without showing signs of wear. It's most common application is in coats, where it imparts a leathery feel. In comparison to cowhide, camel leather contains ten times as much fiber per square centimeter. This leather is most commonly found in tan, caramel, and desert orange. Camel leather footwear is extremely unusual.

12. Deerskin

In fact, there are many other animals besides deer that can provide skins for deerskin leather products. Animals like the moose, elk, Caribus, and a plethora of others are included. Soft and supple, deer leather has many uses. A lot of people claim it's the smoothest leather available. The skin is soft and easily scratched. It's not very durable, and that makes it a poor choice for footwear. The leather is lightweight and breathable, so you won't sweat excessively while wearing it. These leather items need to be waterproofed because it is not a fan of the rain or damp conditions.

13. Sharkskin Leather

Sharkskin Leather

Sharkskin leather outlasts and outperforms any other type of leather. It's scratch-proof and highly abrasion-resistant. The grain pattern is distinctive and can change dramatically depending on the species of shark used. Sharkskin requires a lot of work to break in and is uncomfortable in warm temperatures.

The shark's skin is extremely resilient. Because of its irregular, bumpy texture, sharkskin often has a different reaction to dye than flat surfaces. It's typically lighter at the base and darkens toward the surface.

The grain becomes uneven and mottled as a result. For its durability and long fibers, sharkskin is a great material for work boots. It will last forever if you keep it clean, hydrated, and conditioned. High-end leather goods often feature sharkskin.

14. Giraffe Leather

The majority of Giraffes and therefore their hides can be found in Africa. Because of its rarity, giraffe leather is obtained only after an animal has died of natural causes. The price of importing the hide goes up because of the need for a special permit. No sanding was done to this leather. It's white and covered in a pattern of black trapezoids. It's softness falls somewhere in the middle. Aside from its durability, giraffe leather is also known for being relatively stiff.

15. Kangaroo Leather

It's unusual to find a dress shoe made of kangaroo leather. The wearer probably has on some sort of athletic footwear. There is no significant "breaking in" period required. It's easy to spot a kangaroo in Australia.

Kangaroo leather is supple and even superior to calfskin in some respects. It's easy on the eyes and the fiber concentration is high. Unfortunately, it scratches easily.

Instead of being in horizontal layers like calfskin, the leather's fibers interlock with one another. Kangaroo leather is tough and easy to spot thanks to its distinctive scarring. The quality of their work boots is poor. They need a more relaxed shoe style.

16. Reindeer leather

Reindeer leather

Similar to deerskin, except that reindeers are the same species but found much further north, where they must adapt to an even harsher climate. Russia is the primary source for the world's supply of reindeer leather for footwear.

17. Lizard leather

Since lizards are typically quite small, it often takes skins from several animals to make a pair of shoes, and the leather's appearance and characteristics will vary depending on the type of lizard it came from.

18. Eel Skin Leather

When it comes to footwear, eel skin leather's most notable quality is its aesthetic value. When properly tanned, they are more resilient than you might think, and they also have a stunning appearance. Polishing isn't a regular maintenance item for eel skin leather. As a result of being glazed with a special treatment, the shoe is protected from the elements and will last longer. Eel skin leather shoes are luxuriously soft and comfortable, but they can be quite pricey.

19. Stingray


Stingray leather is exceptionally tough and long-lasting, but it is also extremely difficult to work with, so stingray footwear typically consists of wholecuts or simple designs. The "pearls" must be stitched between or the needle will break. Expensive due to the rarity of stingray leather and the skill required to craft shoes from the material.

20. Kidskin Leather

Despite what the name might imply, both young and old goats are used to produce kidskin leather. You can expect to pay somewhere between the prices for full-grain and calfskin leather for kidskin leather products. High-quality women's dress shoes are typically made with kidskin leather. The use of kidskin leather is widespread in glove production. Kidskin leather is perfect for these uses because it is lightweight, durable, highly absorbent, and soft.

Tips for Judging Leather Quality

How can you tell the quality of leather now that you know the various kinds of leather that go into making boots?

Always inquire about the leather grain when purchasing boots, whether online or in a physical store.

Full-grain leather from fully grown cowhides is used to make the best leather boots. Top grain, corrected grain, and genuine leather are used to make higher-quality boots that will last longer. Adult cowhides are thicker and more durable than their non-adult counterparts, such as steer hides.

Remember that most retail outlets in your area sell leathers of a lesser quality, which have been processed more than full-grain leathers. This is due to the fact that inferior leathers are typically cheaper than full-grain alternatives.

The term "handcrafted" can also serve as a distinguishing mark. Top-grain or full-grain leather is more likely to be used in the production of high-quality boots if they are sourced directly from an artisan workshop.

If the grain can't be positively identified, exercise caution. The best producers will be open about the types of leathers and techniques they employ.

Another important factor to think about is the origin of the leather used by different companies. Try to favor stores that get their leather from reputable tanneries.


It's important to weigh the various types of leather, each with its own set of benefits and price tag, when shopping for leather, especially footwear. This will help you choose your next pair of shoes with the most knowledge possible. When you have an idea of what goes into making a finely crafted leather shoe by hand, you'll be better equipped to find the finest pair you've ever owned.

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