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Leather Quality and Properties

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

  1. BootSpell

    BootSpell Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, DWFII. As always, a detailed and comprehensive explanation. Good reasons not to bake your footwear in the sun to accelerate "patina".
     
  2. Ecstasy

    Ecstasy Well-Known Member

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    I always thought that patina is a sign of ageing, and thus degradation.
     
  3. chogall

    chogall Well-Known Member

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    Patina is only created by usage and oxydation. Other methods are used to imitate the real patina.

    True for woodwork, bronze work, ceramics, and pottery. True for shoemaking and leather working as well.

    Thus the difficulties of #menswear. Unstructured structured suits, brand new antiqued shoes, studied sprezz, paying top dollars to look hobo, going bespoke to look worn.
     
  4. Celadon

    Celadon Well-Known Member

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  5. Munky

    Munky Well-Known Member

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    Chogall, to my recent question of the effects of the sun on shoes, you replied:

    "Lighten, a.k.a., sun bleached. Real patina"

    Further down the page, though, you write:

    "Patina is only created by usage and oxydation".

    I'm a bit confused! [​IMG]
     
  6. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    How true that is!

    Oxidation/patina does occur through exposure to air and sunlight. It's still fundamentally a breakdown in the finish. Perhaps...as I suggested above...if you could control the amount and placement of sunlight you could accelerate the process. But it will always look fake to the experienced eye simply because it is near-as-nevermind impossible control all the factors--including time--that make a true patina.

    The thing that has always bothered me is to see makers...sometimes highly regarded makers...applying stains and dyes to create an ersatz patina even before the shoes leave the bench. Nine times out of ten, the areas that the maker has darkened are so at odds with what would occur through normal wear and oxidation that the shoes just look clownish to anyone who understands and appreciates fine leather shoes.

    It's pretty near impossible to fake convincingly simply because you would have to duplicate the creasing patterns, etc., as well as the parts of the shoe that see minimal or no attention, and how those areas resist or accept polish or oxidation.

    Just glopping extra stain or darker shoe polish on visible or easy to reach areas of the shoe doesn't make a patina.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. VegTan

    VegTan Well-Known Member

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    Here are shoes with so-called bronzed antique patina.
     
  8. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Maybe, but to the eye of someone who makes shoes or works with leather, the leather itself just looks damaged. Is it a look worth aspiring to? I don't think so but substance has always been my focus...as opposed to superficiality...so what do I know?

    I know that no matter what they say they cannot duplicate a natural patina...if you think through the process a shoe has to go through to achieve that state--polish applied liberally in some places, not at all in others, exposure to the environment, etc., I am dubious.

    The shoe is worn. Polish oxidizes and/or flakes off the shoe, and some areas of the shoe are then exposed to sunlight without the blocking aspects of the wax. And polish builds up in protected areas or areas of little flex Dirt gets in the creases, some of it is cleaned off, some of it is missed. Cycle repeats daily, weekly, monthly. And yes, "dirt" even if it's only oxidized polish contributes to patina.

    Ever watch Antiques Roadshow? Think of a bronze or a silver teapot...as the years go by and it gets polished and used, dirt and/or oxidized polish builds up around handles and in low-lying areas. Same thing happens with wood, iron, pottery, jewelry, and leather.

    If you're savvy enough you can spot a fake patina from across the room.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013
  9. Munky

    Munky Well-Known Member

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    I was just looking for the meaning of "Lighten, a.k.a., sun bleached. Real patina". I understand the sun bit and the fact that it can age shoes. I'm not sure about the 'Real patina' bit. To me, it reads as though sun causes real patina - but from many responses on this page, the suggestion is that sun isn't particularly good for your shoes.

    It all sounds to me as though 'natural' exposure to sun can cause patination but it is best not to let your shoes get too much sun. I'm still a bit confused.
     
  10. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Sunlight can destroy or change the molecular structure of the dyestuffs...either the basic colour or tint used to darken specific areas. But patination isn't entirely due to sunlight...or any one thing, really...and again if you're confused, consider my comments about controlling the exposure and the heat build-up that ensues. Beyond that, shoes aren't exposed to that much sunlight in any given day. A couple of minutes on average? In a rotation...maybe not even that. Remember, leather is just skin. So, think of your own skin. If you expose yourself to the sun for a few minutes every day...slowly but surely you'll acquire a tan--and some places will be darker and some not so much. Woo-hoo! You've just acquired a natural patina. But if you sit out in the sun without protection for 20 minutes or so you'll get a sunburn at the very least and cancer is not beyond the realm of possibility. No good can come of it, in other words. It's worth remembering as well, that to some extent creams and polishes act as a sunscreen for the leather in your shoes.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  11. Munky

    Munky Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, DWFII, that's really helpful.
    Munky
     
  12. VegTan

    VegTan Well-Known Member

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    I don't have the technique, but John Lobb Paris (Ilcea's Radica) and Weston (Annonay's Vocalou) sell it.





    It is my understanding that patina means shading.
     
  13. VegTan

    VegTan Well-Known Member

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    Light-Fastness Testing



     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013
  14. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Patina is not just shading nor is the Museum Calf representative of patina. The Museum calf looks like a poor dye job to these eyes--eyes that have been looking at, and analyzing, and evaluating, and using leather for over 40 years. It looks splotchy to me and I would not use it. I understand that some people like it but it looks exactly like what it is--a rather clumsy attempt to simulate patina. Again, anyone who knows anything about leather or shoes knows it's a fake. It might as well be "tie-dyed."

    And yes, you can set your shoes out in the sun for four months or forty years and the colour will fade...no one ever said different. But so will the life of the leather. So...good luck on that.

    Patina is more than just shading or fading or splotchiness. It is a predictable, non-destructive, and usually attractive aging of aniline dyed leather that results from use...in conjunction with regular maintenance, conditioning, polishing, and exposure to a multitude of environmental factors. Take away any of those factors and patination does not take place.

    Do bleach splotched and purpose-torn jeans really and truly look old? People pay more for them than for new jeans...just as people here pay more for fake patina. It's ignorance...not knowing any better...the stubborn pervasiveness and blind repetition of misinformation in the common narrative. It's marketing 101 taken into the streets--repeat a rumour enough times and people start citing it as fact.


    "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'" - Isaac Asimov, column in Newsweek (21 January 1980)​

    --
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013
  15. laufer

    laufer Well-Known Member

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    Indeed it seems it's not just sunlight but other light that can fade the color of the leather. I was looking at a floor sample of EG shoe in Rosewood Country Calf color at SAKS .When I picked up the shoe to see what color it is, I was surprised to see the name Rosewood Country Calf.This color is usually very reddish brown but on this sample shoe it looked almost yellow. It seems to me that floor sample has been there for a long time at the rack directly under the floor lights. .
     
  16. chogall

    chogall Well-Known Member

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    Patina happens naturally, by oxidation and sun mostly. There are also patina created by usage. And then there are imitated patina by painting at different stages of production. Lattanzi famously buried their shoes in an underground well with thick glass ceiling for years to achieve the natural effect. On the men's poor imitations of patina, they could be done at different stages. At the leather dying, aka Ilcea Radica. Before shoemaking but after pattern cutting with dye. Or after shoemaking with either paint of cream.
     
  17. Ecstasy

    Ecstasy Well-Known Member

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    I find that a patina develops somehow if your polishing is done unevenly too. And that is just a matter of months.
     
  18. chogall

    chogall Well-Known Member

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    A blotched polishing job is not acquired patina. It's just applied patina and I can make that happen in a matter of days if not hours. But whatever floats your boat.
     
  19. Ecstasy

    Ecstasy Well-Known Member

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    True. However, natural patina is deterioration of leather.

    When I think of patina, and when I recall that leather is actually skin, I shudder at the thought of my skin looking like that. It is like a sunburn and my skin starts peeling.

    Scary.
     
  20. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    No, I don't think so. A natural patina is, as I said before, a combination of things--polish, finish, and wear, some of it additive some of it subtractive.

    It's not necessarily a deterioration of the leather...that only happens when you try to accelerate the process.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013

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