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Leather Quality and Properties - Page 140

post #2086 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by gaba View Post

Any thoughts on how often manufacturers let something like pictured here slip through quality control? Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I'm talking about the thin and wrinkly grained leather on side of the left shoe. Note the part also continues to the front of the shoe where it is clearly thinner and softer than leather on the other shoe of the pair, indicating problems ahead.

I find it irrelevant what great tanneries etc they sourced the hides from, if they still cut and use the bad parts anyhow. I have now two times faced leather like this, first time I foolishly kept the shoes and they were ruined in half a year, looked really horrible as the thin wrinkly leather on the vamp of the shoe got some wear. These will go straight back to the store. However both the store and the manufacturer are of the mind that this is normal. I don't care about normal creasing in use or small imperfections in manufacturing, clever use of the worse parts in for example inside quarter etc. -  but using a visibly bad thin part of hide on shoes costing hundreds of GBP, I just don't get it. The shoes will never from day one feel or look nice, and at the same I have bought many many cheaper pairs of shoes and never had such QC problem as this.




I don't know if it is a coincidence, but on both pair of shoes that I have seen this problem it was on grained leather. As the graining would indicate problems with the hide in the first place, maybe there is a higher chance of this kind of failures with it on part of manufacturers.


For the most part and all other things being equal, it is just something that comes with the territory--the factory process.

The higher end manufacturers can afford to throw marginal leather away. And that's what is required to insure that this kind of thing doesn't happen. But factories, and that means most commercial businesses aimed at a large segment of the population, exist to make a profit first and foremost...even moreso than they exist to make shoes.

Leather is the raw material that generates those profits. Shoemakers, whether they be bespoke or RTW, pay for that leather--every square inch of it represents an outflow of money. Throwing leather away (even small, unusable scraps) is throwing money away. There is little incentive to do that even when they know that the character of that particular section of the hide is problematic. They don't even spend that much time inspecting and evaluating the leather as they are about to cut it. They just place a bunch of cookie cutters on the hide...in such a way as to maximize yield and minimize the distance between those cutters...and push a button.

Until you get into really high end RTW (and even then), this kind of problem will always be a possibility and more often than not a probability.

All that said, leather is a natural product...with none of the predictability or consistency of plastic...and can fool even the best.

edited for punctuation and clarity
Edited by DWFII - 12/22/15 at 7:29am
post #2087 of 2203
I was wondering if the glazed or the product that seals/finished aniline dyed leather wears out with time?
Thanks in advance.
post #2088 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by vmss View Post

I was wondering if the glazed or the product that seals/finished aniline dyed leather wears out with time?
Thanks in advance.


It can...but doesn't have to.
post #2089 of 2203
I will have a pair of suede boots made on my last. Calf suede is the go-to, but I'm also pondering about other animals that have similar hides. Naturally, I'm looking for the strongest suedes available. What recommendations do you all have?
post #2090 of 2203
Forget the whole issue of suede, for a moment...look to the leather itself. Any leather can be "snuffed" and most can be reversed. You say you want strong...what leathers are strong? That's the question you should be asking.

I've seen sueded alligator, sueded elephant and most hippo I've seen is sueded. These are strong leathers. Antelopes and other wild herbivores are usually pretty "loose fibered". That doesn't make for best strength.

Removing the grain layer from any leather ...and most suedes are "splits" (where the grain is split away and sold separately)...will substantially weaken a leather.

IMO, the best suede is reverse calf. Best looking, Best suppleness. Best strength relative to other attributes. And as far as strength goes, indistinguishable from grain calf.

edited for punctuation and clarity
Edited by DWFII - 1/4/16 at 6:38am
post #2091 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

. . .

I've seen sueded alligator, sueded elephant and most hippo I've seen is sueded. These are strong leathers. Antelopes and other wild herbivores are usually pretty "loose fibered". That doesn't make for best strength.
...
How is wild deer? I would have thought just fine since it is always described as the leather of choice in early America. Perhaps that is just fiction or perhaps it was the only option rather than a choice. Or is deerskin pretty good?
post #2092 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by dopey View Post

How is wild deer? I would have thought just fine since it is always described as the leather of choice in early America. Perhaps that is just fiction or perhaps it was the only option rather than a choice. Or is deerskin pretty good?

It's supple enough (maybe even ideal) for garments but it is not suitable for good quality shoes...although some shoes and esp. slippers are made from it. The "guard hair" on deer and elk and other animals like this is hollow to some extent. So each hair follicle is large relative to other animals. They also have a large amount of finer "under fur" that grows in-between the larger hairs. All this makes for a fairly porous, loose fibered leather.

And...I suspect it depends on the tannage. Brain tan tends to have a different character and appearance than what is typically on the market.
post #2093 of 2203

English makers (well, by way of vintage shoe collectors) talk about buckskin as making excellent suede. Is that somehow stronger than typical American deerskin (which I can imagine as moccasins but not a proper shoe), or is that a case of prizing softness above durability?

post #2094 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by YRR92 View Post

English makers (well, by way of vintage shoe collectors) talk about buckskin as making excellent suede. Is that somehow stronger than typical American deerskin (which I can imagine as moccasins but not a proper shoe), or is that a case of prizing softness above durability?

Well, I can't speak for English makers, but again tannage may be everything in such circumstances. Personally, in over 50 years working with leather, I've never seen a contemporary deerskin/bucksin that I would regard as suitable for suede much less shoes. I had a pair of old (antique) Sioux moccasins years ago that were brain tanned and while they had no grain surface per se (but still not a velvety suede), the leather was pretty firm. Might have made a shoe.

But you're not going to find that kind of leather on just any street corner.
post #2095 of 2203
@DWFII,
This is a question regarding "Russian" leather.
What is your opinion on modern day tanneries who are replicating the old Russian methods of tanning leather similar to that found on the Metta Catharina wreck. Though I'm sure the formula can't be the same, some components do sound similar (willow bark and birch ?tar).
Do you think this tannage produces markedly "better" leather?
These methods are also done on calf, not reindeer. Do you think there is something special about reindeer that can never be duplicated on calf?
Thanks in advance.
post #2096 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderMarch View Post

@DWFII,
This is a question regarding "Russian" leather.
What is your opinion on modern day tanneries who are replicating the old Russian methods of tanning leather similar to that found on the Metta Catharina wreck. Though I'm sure the formula can't be the same, some components do sound similar (willow bark and birch ?tar).
Do you think this tannage produces markedly "better" leather?
These methods are also done on calf, not reindeer. Do you think there is something special about reindeer that can never be duplicated on calf?
Thanks in advance.

I've never worked with the MettaKatarina. So I can't really say. Russia Calf had a fantastic reputation in its day. [So much so that perfumes were created to evoke its "spirit"--Kolnisch Jucten, is the classic example.] How close to the original temper and "life" the sunken leather is, I have no way of knowing--all I have ever seen is swatches of the MK stuff. If I were to be gifted a side/hide of it, I would be careful, however. It may have been preserved in the mud, but I am doubtful that that long under water was entirely beneficial.

As for replicas...well, I'm not sure that they are all that great. Everything I've seen exhibits a common tendency of artificially "textured" leathers--the inability to hold that texture when lasted. Is that good? Is that bad? I dunno but maybe not exactly what the customer bargains for when the leather is rolled out on the table.

I had a tannery in Sweden send me some contemporary reindeer. It looked remarkably like the old MK Russia calf. But the accompanying letter suggested that it was not available in substances I would want to make shoes out of--most of it was 6-8 ounce, with the latter looking the best.

We don't see much reindeer here in the US (none that I know of) but, all other things being equal and given the same tannage, etc., I don't see any reason it would be any better...if as good...as calf.

IMO.

edited for punctuation and clarity
Edited by DWFII - 1/5/16 at 4:56am
post #2097 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post


I've never worked with the MettaKatarina. So I can't really say. It had a fantastic reputation in its day. How close to the original temper and "life" the sunken leather is, I have no way of knowing--all I have ever seen is swatches of the MK stuff. If I were to be gifted a side/hide of it, I would be careful, however. It may have been preserved in the mud, but I am doubtful that that long under water was entirely beneficial.

As for replicas...well, I'm not sure that they are all that great. Everything I've seen exhibits a common tendency of artificially "textured" leathers--the inability to hold that texture when lasted. Is that good? Is that bad. I dunno but maybe not exactly what the customer bargains for when the leather is rolled out on the table.

I had a tannery in Sweden send me some contemporary reindeer. It looked remarkably like the old MK Russia calf. But the accompanying letter suggested that it was not available in substances I would want to make shoes out of--most of it was 6-8 ounce, with the latter looking the best.

We don't see much reindeer here in the US (none that I know of) but, all other things being equal and given the same tannage, etc., I don't see any reason it would be any better...if as good...as calf.

IMO.

edited for punctuation and clarity

 

Thanks for sharing your insights DW. 

But what about contemporary "replicas" that are not mere copies of the cross-hatch embossed pattern, but also attempt to replicate the old Russian tannage / process of using the sepcific types of bark / plant oils that were used in the day? Do you think their particular formula results in a better end product?

post #2098 of 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderMarch View Post

Thanks for sharing your insights DW. 
But what about contemporary "replicas" that are not mere copies of the cross-hatch embossed pattern, but also attempt to replicate the old Russian tannage / process of using the sepcific types of bark / plant oils that were used in the day? Do you think their particular formula results in a better end product?

From what I've seen, the only fair answer is...some may come close but none are really the same (if we even know for certain what the original recipes entailed).

It's like asking if contemporary oak bark tanned leather is as good as the oak bark tanned leather of the past. In most cases the answer is "no." Recipes are about more than just ingredients, they are also about raw materials and time. Even if you had all the same quantities of oak bark etc., two months in the liquor isn't ever going to produce the same results as 12 months.

And the raw hides are critical. The way animals are raised today is not the same as the way they were raised in the 19th century.

I think some are trying hard to capture the "magic" but some are just trying to take advantage of it.
post #2099 of 2203
The best thing that stuff has going for it is that it's old and unique. It's been retanned after dredging up anyway so it's not exactly the original recipe, and it's doubtful that it was ever intended for use in footwear anyway. It's a bit of a pig to work with, and it won't take that much wear. Nice to have a pair for posterity, of course, but I wouldn't wear them very often. Genuine Russian calf was revered and what I've seen of that is worth any price you'd out on it, but I'd take a modern ersatz skin over whatever's been pulled out of the ocean, personally.
post #2100 of 2203
^ That was my assessment as well. The MK looked and felt "dead" to me...any retanning notwithstanding.

There is a tanner here in the US that offers a replica version but I have $5 that says any willow bark or birch tar oil is there for superficial reasons...and probably on a chrome/veg retanned cow (older animal) base.

--
Edited by DWFII - 1/5/16 at 6:50am
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