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Leather Quality and Properties

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by VegTan, Jul 8, 2013.

  1. Munky

    Munky Well-Known Member

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    I have a pair of brown brogues which look like this (this is not a photo of them, the photo was posted a few weeks ago by Immagge).

    [​IMG]

    Mine are made of very soft leather which is unevenly coloured and they do not have a shine of any sort. The leather is not particularly thick. They take both cream and wax well and are gradually developing a more even colour. Because they are so soft and because they have a built in arch support, they are very comfortable. They were not expensive (c £110)

    My question is, what sort of leather are they made of? There has been a lot of talk on here about corrected leather but these don't seem to fit this category. Nor, obviously, are they very good quality leather. Any suggestions would be welcome.
     
  2. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    I know of no one who is producing classic "waxed calf". This was a very specific material/process as outline above...very well regarded and widely duplicated in the 18th and 19th centuries.. It is/was a singular product...as opposed to any calf that is waxed. In the latter the term "waxed calf" is descriptive rather than identifying.

    The last person who produced real Waxed Calf (maybe we need to capitalize the term to create the distinction) was Dennis Kellet in the UK. He folded up several years ago due to age.

    Any "waxed calf" being sold today is fundamentally a marketing pitch...just as "bullhide" is. Just as "mulehide" is. Horween makes a leather--ChromeXcel--that is supposed to replicate waxed calf but it is really a far cry from the original process and the "wax" is actually a solvent based lacquer rather than anything close to the original recipe.

    As to why I made my own...I wanted to see if it could be done on some very nice veg tan that I had access to, right here in the States. AFAIK, Kellet didn't have access to Best East India Kips, either. I always thought his stuff was a little stiff.

    --
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  3. archetypal_yuppie

    archetypal_yuppie Well-Known Member

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    Sewing a patch of leather onto a shoe is no different from sewing a patch of wool onto a hole in a suit. It might be a practical and cheap solution for a field worker, but it is not appropriate for city dress.
     
  4. Munky

    Munky Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, some typos in my message.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  5. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Well-Known Member

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    DWF, what is the purpose of pegging soles? Does this actually hold the sole onto the welt/upper in the closely trimmed areas, or is it more of a decorative thing? I do notice on my St. Crispins they wood peg the arch areas of the sole and the stitching that holds the sole to the welt terminates just after the ball area of the foot.
     
  6. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Well-Known Member

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    Quote: Well, not for me. I can make minor repairs on a suit. Things like attaching buttons, closing open seams or stitching a tear back in place are pretty simple, and anyone can do it. I would not attempt reweaving. Would I sew a patch over a hole? I have certainly done that for casual clothing, but for a suit, there would be problems of finding a piece of cloth that would match well enough, the right thread, the right tension (wool suits tend to be softer cloth than, say, jeans). I could see making things worse rather than better. Plus, finding people who can do those repairs is easy. I don't think I would try that myself on the wool part of a suit. I have done linings, but mistakes there don't damage the suit.

    For a shoe, sewing leather does not seem to be so simple. I would worry about tearing the leather, about how well the patch matched the rest of the shoe, not so much in appearance, but I would worry that a scrap that was too stiff or too soft would damage the area I was trying to repair. I imagine it creating new tensions as I walked, and causing the surrounding leather to deteriorate rapidly. Depending on where it was on the shoe, it might be difficult to get access to the inside to do the sewing right. Plus, I would have to go through the lining, which would tack it to the outer portion of the shoe in a way not intended. Patching without attaching the lining to the outer might require taking the shoe apart, patching, and then putting it back together. It sounds like it would necessitate detaching the upper from the insole and the insole from the welt, then reversing the process. I am sure I don't know how to do that.

    As for whether a patch job done by a good cobbler is appropriate for city wear, all I can say it this. I have never been to Court at Buckingham Palace, and I have never considered holding myself to the standards of dress of the Prince of Wales. Apparently this particular Prince, whom I gather is considered to be very well dressed, can wear patched shoes in public. If such shoes are good enough for him then they are far beyond good enough for me. I am rarely mistaken for royalty.

    I am just not sure the cost of the work would be worth it when my shoes start out so cheap. If I can get a "new" pair of used shoes for $50-75, max, then what would I be willing to pay for a repair? I don't like throwing usable things away, so I might pay as much or more for a repair. At some point, however, the cost stops making sense.

    The replace vs repair calculus might be very different for bespoke Lobbs.

    I don't notice other people's shoes enough to know how often they show visible repairs. I did not even know what people were talking about in the images of HRH's shoes. So I don't have any opinion about how common it is in the city where I live in the US, and let alone in England. Perhaps the cobblers on SF can chime in.
     
  7. archetypal_yuppie

    archetypal_yuppie Well-Known Member

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    Which brings us back to my original comment:

    Regarding...
    The repair/replace calculus is moot for the prince.

    You seem to be hoping that someone will say patching leather shoes is time-honored tradition worthy of kings. It strikes my as sycophantic adulation of the royal.

    If you want to wear worn out, beat up, semi-destroyed things, have at it. But I'm going to call you out on being badly dressed.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  8. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Well-Known Member

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    I do not know which tannery (or finisher) supplies 'Wax Calf' (it might not even be an English supplier any more), but “Wax Calf” (reversed cow hide) is very much alive and well in England, after all it is the material for the boots of the household cavalry:

    [​IMG]

    The leather for the Household Cavalry boots is enormously thick (maybe 3 mm, 1/8”). I believe (but I can be wrong) Rudolf Schnieder holds the current contract. Previously it was Tony Slinger (Wetherby) and before that Edward Green.


    As Charlie has pointed out, it also the classic leather for English hunting boots. The (box calf) full grain leather is used for show-jumping and dressage boots, while the flesh-side out boots are used for the rough and tumble of the hunt. Riding with hounds through brambles and gorse, chasing after some live (and unpredictable) fox, wreaks havoc on fine boots with the leather is used grain-side out. Hence the need for a material where scratches can be polished out.

    Any maker of classic English riding boots will work in wax calf:

    [​IMG]
    http://www.schniederboots.com/

    http://foster.co.uk/our-products/bespoke-services/hunting-field-boots/black-waxed-calf-hunting-boot/

    http://horacebatten.com/boots/wax_calf_riding_boot

    http://www.johnlobbltd.co.uk/catalo...ts/Ridingbootswithtops/waxcalf_ridingboot.htm
     
  9. OzzyJones

    OzzyJones Well-Known Member

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    Hunting foxes with hounds has been illegal in the UK for a number of years
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  10. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Well-Known Member

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    You are right, I did mention it initially, but then it became a victim of editing. Fox hunts have been replaced by drag hunts which are probably not as unpredictable as hunting a living animal.

    Hunting foxes with hounds is still legal in Northern Ireland.
     
  11. OzzyJones

    OzzyJones Well-Known Member

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    Got to give the jolly old chaps somewhere to terrorise animals eh, what what?
     
  12. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Well-Known Member

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    Actually, I asked about wearing patched shoes, now and in the past, for curiosity. I am among that, I suspect large, group of people who don't really care what strangers on the internet, who have never seen me, think of my clothes. But I am curious as to whether wearing patched shoes is as odd as some have suggested, very common, or somewhere in between. Also curious whether it was more common in the past.

    I know very little about Prince Charles, and I targeted my remarks to him only because others had brought him up, and I could not see the problems with his shoes. Having had it pointed out, I SUPPOSE I can see what you are talking about, but I find it impossible to get exercised over what he, or anyone else, might choose to wear. I do find it interesting that he is mentioned on SF for being well dressed, but also here condemned for his "worn out" shoes.

    I am not hoping anyone will give me permission to wear worn out shoes. Remember, these are strangers on the internet, and I don't need their permission to do anything.

    But back to my statement, I have far lower standards for dress than a member of the royal family, I am never on TV, I do not appear at Court, and I have far less money than Prince Charles. He is considered well dressed, old shoes and all. That implies that I can be considered dressed well enough for my purposes without bespoke suits or Lobb shoes.

    Or am I missing something about these worn out shoes? Besides some finding them unappealing, are they dangerous to one's feet? More likely to result in foot injury or infection? Cold in the winter? Hot in the summer? Maintained with toxic chemicals? Otherwise, I have seen lots worse. Much worse in fact.

    Admiration for him? Frankly, I am baffled by the UK support for the royal family. But it is a democracy, and the citizens there could end the financial support, reclaim the residences, etc if they wanted to. I gather the role of the royals is a political issue over there, but most seem content with the way things are. It would not fly in the US, but as a democracy, it is up to the people of the UK to decide how to deal with this legacy of their monarchy. Mildly interesting, but I really don't care. But he gets mentioned a lot on SF, so someone seems to care about him, or at least his clothes.
     
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    You may be correct, I can't say--I don't have access to everything available on that side of the pond.

    But just to reiterate Waxed Calf is not just "reversed cow hide". It was...and still is, AFAIK...a very specific process and result. Reading the description I posted may clarify things, for you.

    And as I also said anything can be called waxed calf...all you need is shoe polish on calfskin. Throw some Sno-Seal on some suede shoes and suddenly you've got waxed calf.

    Or so some would like us to believe.
     
  14. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Pegging outsoles goes all the way back to Roman times. But esp. during the late 19th century ans esp. here in the states, it was one of several means of outsoling a pair of shoes or boots.

    Most American Civil War era boots, both for the military and for civilians, were pegged, and cowboy boots...which evolved post war and were heavily influenced by Officers boots...were pegged. To this day the Traditional way to deal with the waist on a cowboy boot is to peg it.

    In the waist, and for the use, pegs have been shown to be more durable than stitching.

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2013
  15. VegTan

    VegTan Well-Known Member

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    Here is Foster's Waxed Calf (taken by Mrs. Matsuda), which is in the process of polishing and boning. She wrote they also don't use lampblack now.

    [​IMG]



    Horween makes reversed Chromexcel which is called Huntsman.

    http://horween.com/101/chromexcel-2/
    [​IMG]

    http://horween.com/101/the-leather-that-has-3-names/
    [​IMG]

    http://42nd.co.jp/collection/walker-gunn/11759.html
    [​IMG]

    http://kippleland.jugem.jp/?day=20111218
    [​IMG]



    Other photos:

    John Lobb
    http://www.centurion-magazine.com/sections/post/top-five-bespoke-riding-boots.html
    http://www.centurion-magazine.com/uploads/pics/Boots_johnlobb_boots.jpg


    Schnieder
    http://therakeonline.com/atelier-luxury-designer-brands-artisans/blue-suede-shoes/
    http://therakeonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/RS-Boots-11.jpeg


    William Lennon's reverse tanned waxed kip butt leather
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/smallwheelsociety/5534790203/in/photostream/
    [​IMG]


    Ando's mountain boots made out of Eduard Gallusser's Gallo Juchten (a closed tannery)
    http://www.ando-shoe.com/pulse1/7000gblk.htm
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  16. VegTan

    VegTan Well-Known Member

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    That leather is unglazed burnishable calf and named Vegano by Annonay. Vegano is burnished/antiqued by shoemakers. Vegano is softer than glazed leather because glazed leather becomes harder under heavy pressure. Rusticalf (named by Annonay) is milled in a drum and softer than Vegano. http://www.tannerie-annonay.fr/en/contenu-produits.htm
    Glazing [VIDEO][/VIDEO] [​IMG] Milling http://www.bowleather.co.uk/bow/TheManufacturingProcess/Milling_2010.aspx Alden's Vegano http://sgrain3.exblog.jp/19245884/ [​IMG] Carmina's Rusticalf http://www.carminashoemaker.com/web/hom/coleccion_modelo.php?lang=eng&dist=h&id_col=38&id_mod=237 [​IMG]
     
  17. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Well-Known Member

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    Tony Gaziano said that a lot of the upper class English folks he makes shoes for routinely get them patched. He also said that it is much less noticeable on black shoes, but that is largely all they wear anyway. He also said many people get their cracks patched, or mended.

    I personally see nothing wrong with it if the rest of the shoes integrity is sound. Also, I would be more inclined to do it on either a bespoke shoe, or a shoe that is on the expensive side ~1k+ Getting C&J's patched seems like a waste of money as doing it right would cost some good money.

    I am a fan of the patina of a good pair of shoes and I consider patches on good quality, comfortable shoes to just be the next stage in their life. I see it as a sign of cared for, well loved shoes. Member poorsod has patches on a ton of his shoes, all high end RTW and bespoke.

    Also, what makes the Prince's shoes look rather bad is the choice of leather, weird polish job, and super low profile of the sole and heel. I don't know what is up with that, but the bespoke Lobb's I have seen don't resemble that at all. It is very odd.


    Do you have a picture of a peg before it is inserted? Also, is it literally hammering a pointy wooden nail through the outsole, through the uppers/lining, and into the insole?
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2013
  18. archetypal_yuppie

    archetypal_yuppie Well-Known Member

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    If you ever go outside, you already know that it is very uncommon now. I have never ever seen it.


    Did you ever look at them on a proper screen? I think the patches are actually less of a problem compared to the blotchy scaly crinkled leather elsewhere.


    His suits are probably nice, I don't pay much attention. Maybe most of his shoes are nice. I only hold that those pictured are horrendous. He may have sentimental motives, that's fine. Still does not change that they look awful.


    This implies that you trust some arbiter, but it is amorphous. Also, someone can be generally well dressed, and make a mistake from time to time. Those shoes are a mistake.


    Makes me want to ask, again, if you have looked at the pictures in hi rez.


    Agreed, I don't understand how a populace in this day in age is satisfied with being relegated to a lower class, or to the indignity of being expected to call someone Sir or Your Highness because of their birth. So messed up.
     
  19. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    I'd love to believe that someone is actually producing classic Waxed Calf today. I like it even better if I had access and could purchase some for my own use.

    That said...the Traditional process demands a very tight very firm leather. It also demands the aging of the leather and the finishing with some sort of sizing/wheat paste or something similar.

    It's not just stuffing the leather with oils. Lots of leathers are hot stuffed. None of them transform into anything close to the Waxed Calf I have seen which is not oily or greasy despite the stuffing.

    And I have personally talked to Skip Horween about Chromexel...the finish on the leather (as I said above) is a solvent based lacquer. Skip sent me a bottle to fill in the gaps/repair the finish on boots I was making...simply because you couldn't not just "bone it out".

    What's the difference between finishing the flesh with a heavy paint and finishing the grain with a paint AKA "corrected grain leather"?
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2013
  20. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    The answer is "yes".

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Osage orange pegging awl. (I made this)

    [​IMG]

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2013
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