Is calf leather more durable than suede?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Swann, Oct 26, 2006.

  1. Swann

    Swann Senior member

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  2. Octoploid

    Octoploid Member

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    Yes. (BTW suede is a form of calf leather)
     
  3. Demeter

    Demeter Senior member

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    Durable?

    It depends on the leather, and you can have sueded calf leather.

    So it depends what you mean by durable. Will it last a longer time? It doesn't really make a difference from a structural point of view, although depending on the finish, a regular calf leather may have more protection from the elements (a waterproofed boxcalf, for example) and thus would last longer.

    Suede's aesthetic is also harder to take care of.
     
  4. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    In my experience, box calf is more likely to flake or crack than suede, suede is much more likely to stain. And, yes, it does depend on the type of suede. The really fine kid suedes are extremely delicate. Country reverse calf can be quite sturdy indeed. Also, you really don't want to get suede wet, unless it has been bathed in water repellent chemicals.
     
  5. Demeter

    Demeter Senior member

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    Suede also has the other kind of flaking to worry about - that of fibres coming off.

    You're right on the boxcalf being prone to cracking and flaking, though. I've been working with some boxcalfs and have only found one that meets a high enough standard of quality. I think in either case, it all depends on the overall quality of the tanning process.

    I remember how at the beginning of my venture, a local supplier was peddling 'high-quality Chinese goat leather.' I pulled on it and with barely an effort the stuff ripped apart like a sheet of cardboard.
     
  6. well-kept

    well-kept Senior member

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    All of my shoes are either calf or shell except one pair - EG Banbury in mink suede. How are these going to look several years from now? I don't really know but I've decided to not worry about them. If they look like hell a decade hence it'll probably be an interesting and perhaps beautiful form of hell. Until then I'm just going to wear them.
     
  7. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    If suede gets shiney or "threadbare" (not really the right term, but what the hell) you can raise the nap with the vigorous application of a brass-bristle brush. It's not surefire, but it often works.
     
  8. chorse123

    chorse123 Senior member

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    I like that philosophy, well-kept. As for me, I just spend less on suede shoes and try not to think about it.
     
  9. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    I have only had one pair of suede shoes give out on me, and it took a long time. In, I believe, 1993, I bought a pair of Church's punch caps in "Real Cape Buck." These are pre-Prada shoes; not as elegant as EG, but very nice and very well made. The leather is incomparable, and can no longer be sourced (according to Tony G.). Early this year, the left shoe developed a small cut on the vamp, just behind the toe cap. This is the place where the shoes crease as I walk. I suppose the stress just got to them. 13 years of constant wear, however, is a decent period of service. I only wish I could get them again.

    BTW, in every other respect they held up very well. A little discoloration here and there, nothing major, and little "shiney" in certain spots, again nothing major. Character building, I suppose.
     
  10. Demeter

    Demeter Senior member

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    Manton, this would be the suede equivalent of a natural antiquing, I guess.
     
  11. caelte

    caelte Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Suede also has the other kind of flaking to worry about - that of fibres coming off.

    You're right on the boxcalf being prone to cracking and flaking, though. I've been working with some boxcalfs and have only found one that meets a high enough standard of quality. I think in either case, it all depends on the overall quality of the tanning process.

    I remember how at the beginning of my venture, a local supplier was peddling 'high-quality Chinese goat leather.' I pulled on it and with barely an effort the stuff ripped apart like a sheet of cardboard.


    I was told a number of the old tanneries have closed, taking their knowledge of tanning with them.
    This was harness leather that I was told about but are other tanneries closing their doors as well?
     
  12. Demeter

    Demeter Senior member

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    I was told a number of the old tanneries have closed, taking their knowledge of tanning with them.
    This was harness leather that I was told about but are other tanneries closing their doors as well?


    Mark, for some perspective - every single tannery in Canada has shut its doors. I think Orion may still be around, but that's very doubtful. The problem is that typical tanneries don't provide leather for high-end firms that are ready to dish out $5/sq.ft. When Chinese manufacturing moves in, they can't compete with them in quality, and they can't compete with price, so they have to close shop. The only tanneries that remain are either those that have a lot of grit, or those that make specialty leathers. This is why the big few are still around. When Hermes buys leather from a firm, they're not too price sensitive since the cost just gets transfered to the end consumer, who, in turn are also price insensitive when it comes to Veblen goods.

    The same thing has happened in the US, and to a lesser extent in Italy, France, and England where some of the best leathers have traditionally come from.

    The same effect is felt in the higher-end markets, too, though not to the same extent. If Horween, for example, closes its doors, there will be no one left to make cordovan, 'cept for the firm in Japan whose name escapes and whose products are a distant second compared to Horween, from what I hear.
     
  13. Tomasso

    Tomasso Senior member

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    When Hermes buys leather from a firm, they're not too price sensitive since the cost just gets transfered to the end consumer.


    AFAIK, Hermes owns or has interest in all of the tanneries that supply them. For instance, they own Gordon-Choisy which supplies them with their exotic leathers.
     
  14. Demeter

    Demeter Senior member

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    AFAIK, Hermes owns or has interest in all of the tanneries that supply them. For instance, they own Gordon-Choisy which supplies them with their exotic leathers.

    You're right. It's not just tanneries. Goes the same for all suppliers.

    I was just making an example, though I suppose Hermes was a bad one to make.
     
  15. kitonbrioni

    kitonbrioni Senior member

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    Suede that stains and wears is just part of character building.
     

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