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Soft leather shoes

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Long time lurker, first time poster.


I've been buying lower-medium high end shoes and been disappointed by some of them.  What some people describe as very soft leather to me feel very hard.  I need some help in my continuing search for comfortable shoes I can wear.  I guess it's best to start with what I have


It all started with a pair of santoni loafers.  They were very comfortable.  Very soft leather (free)


Then I moved onto Bruno Magli lace-ups oxfords.  Rubber sole's(given for free).  Pretty soft leather.


I ordered a pair of Ferragamo Studio's which were also very soft.  I returned them when I started doing research(glued) and found this forum.


I bought a pair of Sutor Mantellasi's wingtips from Shop the finest.  Buttery soft does not even describe how soft they are.  I love these.


I then got a pair of Ferragamo Tramezza's captoe brogue.  These were almost as hard as a pair of Santoni Classico's.  I haven't really broken them in yet but very surprised at how hard they start out.  Everyone says they are their most comfortable shoes.  They fit me but the leather is hard to me.


I then got a pair of Martegani's brogues which are softer than the Ferragamo's but no where near the Sutor's.  Pretty happy with them still.  They were cheap though, so I really can't complain.  Again, people online said they are really soft.


Today I got Gravati captoes which are very soft.  Almost near Sutor's softness and better than martegani's and Ferragamo's.  I also got another pair of Sutor's(from virtualclotheshorse) but captoes since I loved mine so much.  This is the confusing part - they are not that soft.


Sorry for the long post.  Is it a breaking in problem?  Eventually they'll get soft?  I want to keep buying shoes but I am very disappointed in how these shoe's turned out.  The newest pair of Sutor's I got today, I might return because I was expecting very supple leather.  I seriously doubt it, but do captoe's use harder leather than others?


Thoughts, opinions?  Do I have unrealistic expectations?  Any other brands I should be trying?


Thanks for the help.

post #2 of 20
Welcome to Styleforum.
Have you tried Alden, Bally or Moreschi? I have found all three to be buttery soft inside.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 

No I have not yet.


I don't know why, but I always assumed Alden was a very hard, unflexible shoe.  I will have to try some of those.


I just don't understand how some of my sutor's is extremely soft and the other is hard.  I would have thought they would use the same leather.

post #4 of 20
I don't know where this newbie misapprehension comes from that soft leather is desirable, or that it even makes any different to how comfortable a pair of shoes is. Soft leather often belies the fact that it is thin and cheap, and when they are on your feet I sincerely doubt you can tell any difference in how soft the leather of the uppers is (providing they fit correctly so do not chafe or scape your feet).
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 

Maybe what I believed to be fitting really doesn't fit so great.  I found the softer leather shoes to be more comfortable to me when I am walking around for a bit.  When I walk, the leather on the shoes "crunch" the top of my foot.  Right below my toes the crease pushes down.  With the softer leather the creases don't push down.  That's my only problem with the "harder" leathers.

post #6 of 20
Are you applying leather conditioner / lotion periodically to your shoes? Once per month would be a good guidline. Leather may stiffen if it is not maintained or worn for long periods.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 

I guess i should have clarified.  All of these are brand new out of the box.  On sale so maybe from sitting in storage for who knows how long has made them harder.  I'll apply some Saphir and see if that helps it at all.  My comparison for everything is brand new out of the box.  Except the tramezza's which were lightly worn.

post #8 of 20
The most instantly comfortable thing I've worn (limited experience, admittedly) is Alden flex welt
post #9 of 20
Originally Posted by Sanguis Mortuum View Post

I . Soft leather often belies the fact that it is thin and cheap, and ).

Not always. Some of the softest leathers (speaking for upper leather only NOT sole or insole leather) I have are literally bullet proof and after a decade of use (and negligence sometimes) have never developed any cracks or serious creases. These leather are completely stricken through and relatively thin. Remember that the stiffer/harder something is the more likely that forced bending or stress will results in cracks no matter what you do. Also kangaroo is proof that thin soft leathers don't have to be weak or cheap.

I think that most posters that say that soft leathers is unnecessary and that stiff can be comfortable are speaking from the point view of having feet on the fleshier side and/or wearing thicker socks. As someone with bony and thin soft skin on the top of my feet who only likes thin to very thin (think sheer) socks, I find hard leathers are often a detriment for a significant initial period from new. One of my best fitting pairs has stiff upper leather and after 2 years of wear there is still some bitting that can occur in vary specific areas such as the top of the metatarsal or phalange region (often just under the vamp crease). Don't get me wrong I like this pair and they are comfortable for the plantar surface but will only wear with a tiny Dr scholI pad on.

I consider something like cordovan to be completely insane and fit only for those who are extremely thick skinned
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 

I was thinking about cordovan also but I guess I will definitely have to try on a pair before buying.


I think I also have bony/soft tops of my feet.  The bending down of the leather onto the foot hurts.


As a noob to the shoe world, I just found out that my Sutor's I referenced as insanely soft are from Deerskin.  It was my first real pair of expensive shoes so I had always figured this is how expensive shoe leather should be.  Hence my buying every shoe under the Italian sun.  Being my first real pair it was my reference point.


With that being said, I will continue on my search for soft leather uppers.



post #11 of 20

 I like my Allen Edmunds but some of the styles have a break in period and they are fairly heavy. The Waldens literally have to stretch to fit properly, you can't buy them big and hope they fit. For soft leather shoes I'm a big fan of Santoni loafers. I travel a lot and they work well at TSA checkpoints. Easy on and easy off even without a shoe horn. And the Santonis have a decent footbed in them so the are very comfortable to walk in. If the Sutors work for you then stay with them. I  think that cap toes are going to be stiffer than loafers. Stiffer is part of being a dress shoe. Maybe the Alden flex welt would work better for you per above. Alden is close to where I live but I haven't found time to visit the factory yet.





post #12 of 20
I ordered a pair of Ferragamo Studio's which were also very soft. I returned them when I started doing research(glued) and found this forum.

It could partially be that you're now going for goodyear welted soles, which can make a shoe feel "harder" than one w/ blake stitched soles. SF tends to favor the former, but the latter has its uses.
post #13 of 20
Originally Posted by Stephenhdmrs View Post

The bending down of the leather onto the foot hurts.

If this is the case, then the shoes do not fit.
post #14 of 20
My guess is that you're looking for what is generally described as glove leather, which was popular in the '90s. It's cheap and comfortable, but doesn't last long.
post #15 of 20
If the crease is causing pain I must agree with poor fit.
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