What Is Shoe Leather?
Shell Cordovan Leather Hide
Shoes are a fascinating item, they are as diverse as handbags and people don’t look at them in the same way as they do restoring car seats or sofas. But they should, as a good quality pair of handmade bespoke shoes can cost £15,000 sometimes more, the average is around £1,800.
Oliver Sweeney Handcrafted Shoes
The oldest pair of shoes dates back to 5,500 years, now that’s a long time!
A question we get asked a great deal is how can I protect my shoes to preserve them and make them last longer. There are many ways this can be done, but it depends on the type of leather you have.
Shoe leather comes in so many forms, but it gets confusing because they also come in so many leather types. Calf, pig, box calf, veal, cow, bull, bull hide, deer, fish, snake, crocodile, alligator, and the list goes on. These are also finished in many different ways, from waxed antique looking shoes, to pigmented, semi aniline, aniline, hand buffed, suede, nubuck. Shoes are a very interesting item and possibly have the widest ranges of types and finishes in the industry.
Shell Cordovan, calf skin and the process of Veg Tanned leathers are the favourite for handmade shoes. Finishing them with traditional hand buffing and carna wax buffing, layering creams and special silk sealers along with carna waxes. This then creates antiqued and two-tone finishes; the results can be truly outstanding. Another name given to shell cordovan leather, that can be confusing to those who don’t know, is crup. As with crup another name used for calf skin is Vellum, this is the Latin word Vitulinum meaning “made from calf”, leading to Old French Vélin, “calfskin”
Why is Shell Cordovan leather so costly? What makes it so special? Shell Cordovan Leather is very durable and tough, and the pores are so dense you can’t see them to the naked eye as they use the hindquarters of the horse to make such fine quality shoes. Shell Cordovan is naturally very waterproof, but it’s not impervious. A typical characteristic of Shell Cordovan is that it doesn’t crease, it ripples. The fibre structure is to tight and strong it’s amazing, but this brings problems with it for the tanning processes.
Grenson Handmade Shoes
Due to Cordovan leather being so dense this can only be veg tanned. The process takes a considerable length of time for the natural materials to soak into the leather using natural materials such as bark, plant extracts, leaves and much more. But you are limited to colours with Cordovan leather also due to it being so dense.
Creating a shine on shoes requires skill, traditional spit and polish is by far the most superior. That may sound simple, but it’s an art form to gain the correct levels of shine, even misting at the final stages is essential to ensure the finish is fully level. Then the very last step is using a very high-quality horsehair brush to give a final buffing and deep mirror shine to the shoes or boots.
Caiman Shoe Leather
Having the correct sponges are essential to load up the shoes to gain the correct colours and layers of colours, to gain that see through look on some colours and aged antique look with others and that’s just all on one pair of shoes.
Scuffs and scratches can be fixed with specialist wax sticks along with creams, a quality sponge, pure cloth and a high quality horsehair brush.
When the weather is too hot, then ice cubes can be introduced to reduce the temperature of water used in the polishing stages, water needs to be nice and cool to create that famous mirror shine.
Oliver Sweeney Before Black and White
Oliver Sweeney After All Black