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Man discovered the advantages of leather thousands of years ago, using it to protect the body and feet. Since then this has become the favorite material for making shoes. Let’s see how far evolution has brought us in terms of the use of this material.
Leather shoes are not only preferred by people, but also the most recommended to ensure the comfort and protection of the feet. Since always this material has given its multiple advantages to those who use it, earning a place in fashion. Its flexibility and resistance are the two main characteristics of the skin. It is to be expected that all of them will be transmitted to shoes made with this material. Thanks to this, we obtain quality footwear with great durability. Thanks to their elasticity, they are comfortable to walk on and adapt to any type of foot. This is the main reason why they are recommended for people with a disease that affects their extremities. That same characteristic makes them more durable, they adapt to our steps without breaking in the folds that form when walking.
In addition, it is breathable, absorbent and porous. This means that in low temperatures keep your feet warm and when it’s hot it keeps them dry and cool. So we can use them at any time of the year. The leather is also used to make any type of shoe, from sports to elegant footwear. It is also used for the different parts of the shoe: it is one of the materials for soles , inner lining and exterior finishing. Which demonstrates its versatility .Against it they have that the shoes are usually expensive, but thanks to that they last longer than others they turn out to be a better investment. And to extend their life time they should be given the care according to the type of skin .But what are the types of skin for shoes? This classification is made according to the origin and the treatment received by the material.
First let’s see how leather is classified according to its origin.
It is obtained from cattle. It is characterized by being thick and can be used to obtain several layers of skin. It is very resistant and breathable, it does not wear easily. Within this classification we find the box-calf , one of the best types of skin, which has a soft touch and a certain rigidity. In addition, it has a characteristic pattern on the flower side. It is the most used to make elegant shoes. The resistance of the cow skin also makes it suitable for sports shoes and everyday wear. As well as to manufacture soles.
Another of the most used shoe making materials is lambskin. In fact, it is used regularly in other garments. The leather that is obtained from this animal is very light and thin, which makes it ideal to line the inside of the shoe. It is also very soft to the touch, this being one of the characteristics by which we can identify it. The lambskin is resistant to treatments with chemicals to get special finishes. For example, this is the material that is used to imitate the suede (antelope) finish, since this animal is protected and can not be marketed with it.
The main characteristics of deerskin are its great elasticity and softness. We can say that it is one of the most flexible and is capable of adjusting to the shape of any foot. This makes shoes made with this type of skin perfect for those who suffer from bunions and other foot problems. By adapting to the shape, it reduces the pressure and pain points. It is also among the most resistant types of leather, so they are used to produce different types of shoes. On the other hand, we must warn that they are very delicate when it comes to cleaning them. If the right products are not used, the shoe will be damaged.
It is a skin of great quality and its structure is very compact. It also has a lot of flexibility and is used in the fine leather industry and in the manufacture of high-priced products .There are two types of goat skin: tafilete (it has a fine grain) and donut (the grain is thicker and it is brighter).
This skin is very porous and at the same time resistant and soft. As for quality, it is lower than the previous ones; however, it is quite durable. In the footwear industry, it is used mainly in the lining of shoes.
Suede shoes. By subjecting the skin to certain chemical treatments it is possible to change its appearance, thus achieving different finishes. According to the post-tanning treatment, the cooked leather is obtained . This method involves immersing the skin in water, wax or boiling fat. As a result a very moldable leather is achieved. To obtain the oily leather , the natural oils of the material are replenished. With this process, the material is made more flexible and resistant to water, which is used to manufacture different types of shoes. In footwear we will find three types of finish depending on how the layers of the skin are divided. The skin turned or split is that which is obtained when it is divided into several layers, using the inner layer to make the shoe. The split has a velvety finish and is resistant.
The nubuck is another finish that we will find in footwear. In appearance it is similar to suede, the difference is that in this case the skin does not separate, but it obtains that aspect during the treatment to which it is subjected. The patent shoes are obtained by adding several layers of polyurethane skin. As a result, the characteristic brightness of this material is obtained. A very elegant and water resistant finish is achieved. However, due to the chemicals that are added, they are less flexible and are prone to cracking with use.
There are people who reject the use of animal skin to make shoes and clothing. The influence of these groups has led the fashion industry to experiment with synthetic products. Many popular brands have added to this alternative, using materials capable of imitating the skin very well. In fact, thanks to the advances, each time the products are closer to the real appearance of leather. Unlike natural skin, products made from synthetic materials tend to be cheaper. But if you are one of the people who still prefer to buy natural leather shoes, we recommend that you learn to distinguish between both types of materials. Imitations can be very good and confuse the buyer.
The main characteristics that you have to pay attention to are the touch and the smell. The smell of leather is very characteristic of the material, while the imitations smell like plastic. The texture of both is different. In the real leather the pores of the skin are noticed and not in the one of imitation.
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