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Corrected grain shoes

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by JohnMS, Mar 15, 2004.

  1. JohnMS

    JohnMS Well-Known Member

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    I entered this forum too late. It's been a couple of weeks and I finally read the posts on corrected grain. bengal-stripe has talked about this leather and I unfortunately have shoes with this leather.

    Allen Edmonds as many of you know make a saddle shoe called the Shelton in a burgundy/black. This is the color combination I've been eyeing for years now and was finally able to make a purchase, luckily at a good discount (following A. Harris and others example).

    Well, I put those babies on and the finish just started to flake off in the area of the shoe crease. AE said they would look at the shoes and determine what needs to be done. Hopefully they will offer me a new shoe or let me choose another one.

    Need feedback. Has anyone out there tried Allen Edmonds' special make-up program where the last, leather, etc. can be chosen? If so, what did you order and what might you recommend?
     
  2. jrh

    jrh Well-Known Member

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    I am not thinking corrected grain is Scotch grain. I have some of Edward Green Country Calf (Scotch Grain) shoes.. EG informs it is done by rolling and embosing the skin. This helps to minimize scuffing. Yes. Or is it hide defects. Can't image EG does this.

    Please advise
     
  3. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    I believe corrected grain is something that cheap shoes, and certain higher end ones possesses. It is sanding down the leather to minimize large unpleasing pores, and then layering down a shiny surface created by rolling, waxing, and heating, etc. for a perpetual shiny look.

    It does not age well as one might perceive.
     
  4. jrh

    jrh Well-Known Member

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    I trust not as in cordovan (ie the siny finish)
     
  5. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    Cordovan is the shell of the posterior of a certain horse. I believe that the inherent nature of cordovan is to be a very smooth shiny entity. It is tanned, and highly glazed in a rather strenuous process. There is only one tannery that produces it today on the US, Chicago's Horween Leathers.

    It is derived from the Spanish who used it for binding fine books. However there are now so called cordovan skins that are produced from goat, and pigskins.

    Corrected grain isn't or shouldn't be employed for cordovan.
     
  6. jcusey

    jcusey Well-Known Member

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    I just looked in the Allen-Edmonds catalogue, and sure enough, the Shelton is made from "Polished Cobbler Calf," which is a euphemism for corrected-grain leather. Oh, well. Live and learn.

    I hope that Allen-Edmonds will make your defective shoes right. Corrected-grain leather isn't the greatest substance in the world, but its finish should not flake off after a couple of wearings.
     
  7. jrh

    jrh Well-Known Member

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    JCusey:

    Any insight on Scotch grain....
     
  8. A Harris

    A Harris Well-Known Member

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    Scotch grain is cowhide (as opposed to calfskin) that has been embossed. As such, it is a thicker leather. There are different qualities of scotch grain, it is done for the look, not to hide imperfections, at least in the case of the better examples. According to Laszlo Vass' Â Handmade Shoes For Men, scotch grain requires particular skill on the part of the clicker, because if the pattern is not oriented correctly, then the leather will stretch too much and lose its grain altogether. Apparently the best leather for the vamps comes from along the spine. I like scotch grain because the toe area tends to get smoother as a result of the hammering during the lasting stage, also the fact that the grain tends to fill with polish as you wear the shoe. It makes for a pleasing contrast. I actually spit-polished the toe of my John Lobb William's and they look great.
     
  9. jrh

    jrh Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Andrew... appreciate the education.
     
  10. jcusey

    jcusey Well-Known Member

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    I was just cracking open my copy of the Vass book, and I saw that you had stolen my thunder. Harumph. [​IMG] The William in buffalo grain calf really does polish up well, doesn't it? I wonder if the leather is actually from buffalo or if this is just another one of JL Paris's rhetorical flourishes.
     
  11. jrh

    jrh Well-Known Member

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    Alot of companies call textured leather buffalo grained.  JM Weston does a true Water Buffalo.  I have a demi-chasse  split toe boot in water buffalo.  It is a lighter weight leather, thus softer, with a hard finish that hardly scuffs.  Tuff stuff.  Very nice stuff.  Hardley needs polishing as it has a natural luster.
     
  12. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Well-Known Member

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    Corrected grain is that high gloss leather usually called "bookbinder" or "cobbler", but there shouldn't anything flake off within the creases. That does happen with "coated leather" where a coat of plastic gets sprayed onto inferior leather to give it a permanent shine. That is the most disgusting stuff, used for very cheap shoes. I do not believe Allen-Edmonds uses it. I have the suspicion (if you bought the shoes second-hand) that it might be a build-up of old polish and all it needs is a good clean. Dab a cloth in surgical spirit (rubbing alcohol) and see if you can wipe it clean. Otherwise let the guys from A-E sort it out.

    There is "Scotch-grain" and there is "country calf" (used by EG) on the market. Scotch grain are the older cow skins, which get sanded down (at least to a degree) and then embossed. The younger calfskins get equally embossed but they still have their full grain (pores). The embossing process makes the calfskin quite pliable and soft. If in doubt, take a magnifying glass and look at the pores. I don't think there is a sharp demarcation line between the two.

    Now it gets even more complicated: Buffalo is a beast of the American plains, which gets turned into shoes and is called "bison". Water buffalo is an Asian beast of burden, which also can end up as shoes. "Buffalo" (with a French accent) as John Lobb calls it, is a "shrunken calf". There is a way (I don't quite know the technical process) to shrink leather and to give it more wrinkles and a more rugged appearance. (I suppose more like the real buffalo).

    Shell cordovan has equally no grain as the leather used for shoes is peeled out of the horsehide. The "shells" lie between the skin and the flesh side of the skin.
     
  13. RIDER

    RIDER Well-Known Member

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    The leather on the Shelton is polished cobbler - it is generally calf with minor defects that is worked by layering numerous coats of finish by the use of high pressure rollers. This covers the visual blemishes and the finished product carries a very high gloss. There is nothing wrong physically with the leather, just not good enough visually for an analine finish. Also, there are two styles (American market) that have become known to carry this finish; the saddle oxford and the penny strap (welted, not handsewn). The problem with polished cobbler is in it's care. Eventually, even with routine care, the layers start to peel (or scuff) away. You can always tell a polished cobbler shoe by the pinkish (if it's burgundy) streaks on the tips and inside heel area. Sometimes, if a shoe made of polished cobbler sits in the store for a long time (years I'm talking) the finish starts to lift of on it's own. And a display model under the lights is usually trash after 2 or 3 months. I have a feeling this could be the case with your shoes. It seems to me you have a problem with the seller, but Allen Edmonds can refinish them for about 40$ if you need to keep them.

    As far as make-ups go, A/E will do this, but they don't encourage it. They are having a hard time keeping up with regular orders let alone specials. They also have thrown out many older patterns recently when they redesigned the factory so it really is not an option from a pattern standpoint, just size. Last year I made-up an old pattern for one of my customers who also needs a hard size - 12 AA. It worked out well and he was happy to pay the 100$ make-up fee for the shoes he remembered wearing years ago. Last month he called for another pair but A/E refused the order as the pattern does'nt exist any longer. I do have a custom order coming from them now,however. I changed the leather on a new shoe they have called the Randolph (a penny strap) to ,you guessed it, polished cobbler. I also had them change the last from the 9 to the 7 as the 9 fits like socks on a rooster. So, they will change leathers if they have something available (they will not find something they don't have) or make a size that is outside of the size chart for a 100$ fee and about a 3 month wait. Hope that helps -
     
  14. jrh

    jrh Well-Known Member

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    Bengal-strip:

    Thanks for the info. EG advised me some time back that their country calf is infact the same calf skin used in their smooth-grained leather.  As you have noted, it softens nicely, as on my Halifax.  Other "Scotch-grained" leathers I have seen never get that soft.

    EG does have another textured leather they call Heather Gorse shown in a previous catalog. I was advised it is used in their heavy-duty country models and very user unfriendly.  The break-in time is significant.  Perhaps this is their version of a older cow skin that has  been embosssed.  The concept of sanding-down does not appeal to me for fine fines or boots.


    I have been seeing some Bison skin boots on the American market.  Bison is the in vogue meat these days and I guess the skins are following that trend.  Has anyone had experinence with the Bison skin?

    As I have mentioned above, the Water Buffalo shoes I have by J M Weston are very nice and considered an exotic skin. During a Weston sale over a decade ago I bought my now 83 year-old mother a pair of demi-chasse spilt toe white Water Buffalo shoes.  They are the one finest looking and wearing shoes I have ever seen. She wears them to date loves them.  In todays market they are probabaly over $1000 US. Mine are a Tan boot.

    The French Mephisto shoes company uses a strunken calf leather they in their walking shoes. It is a full-grain skin with a texture similar to Water Buffalo , but not as fine a grain or leather. Nice stuff for a good weight top of the line walking shoe.  Forget those up-scale sneakers. Mephesto walking shoes at 300 to 400 dollars USA are wonderful.
     
  15. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Well-Known Member

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    I've checked with the London Lobb shop; their "buffalo" is a rolled (embossed) calf and not shrunken calf as I had stated. (Who knows, maybe it's the loss-factor in the shrunken calf. You start off with a big skin and end up with a small one.) Nevertheless, as jcusey has put it so nicely, it is "just another of JL Paris's rhetorical flourishes". (But JL has had in past collections the occasional model in water buffalo.)
    Alden-of-Carmel has offered a while back a few bison (buffalo) models and H. S. Trask specialize in this leather: http://www.hstrask.com/index.asp?catid=1
    There are various embossed leathers around for country shoes. "Zug Grain" is another one, it feels like cardboard, but, I presume, it is as tough as the proverbial old boots. You can emboss any pattern onto leather, from faux-crocodile to the bark pattern no well-respecting Gladstone bag would have done without. (Which, of course, Louis Vuitton has revived in recent years.) I have even seen some Paul Smith loafers with embossed flowers in the leather. I suppose it's only a question of time, till we get Gucci shoes with "GG" embossed all over.
     
  16. jcusey

    jcusey Well-Known Member

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    They threw old patterns out? That's one of the most shocking things I've ever heard (at least about the shoe trade). The 35% markup for special orders when you don't have many options other than leather and size says "Go away" to me very clearly. I can understand why they would have this policy from a business point of view, but it is unfortunate nonetheless. Does Alden discourage special orders as vigorously? Regarding the A-E factory redesign, I recall that you mentioned that before either here or on the Ask Andy forum; but I can't remember what you said and I can't find the post in question. Could you tell us again what A-E did and what impact this has had on quality?
     
  17. RIDER

    RIDER Well-Known Member

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  18. AlanC

    AlanC Well-Known Member

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    As far as Bison leathers go, look at Trask shoes. I picked up a pair of bison leather shoes (Italian made) at Sierra Trading a few months ago on the cheap, and quite like them. The shoes, of course, are not of the level of the top manufacturers.
     

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