Leather Quality and Properties

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

  1. vmss

    vmss Senior member

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    I have a question regarding the use of crust leather. I have notice that many high end makers are using crust leather. That it takes hours to days to create a desired patina look.

    Why go through all the work and then as soon the buyer buys this product with general use the color starts fading and leaving dust/ flakes behind. I have a patina shoes and the color is quite different now compared to when I purchased it from the shelves.

    At first most patination are great to watch, it's just doesn't make sense to me after walking in them it's all gone.

    Does this make sense ? Just wondering if someone can bring some sense to me why some makes take this route of hand patina as it is not permanent and ages dramatically. I am talking about shoes that starts of from
    The white/off white crust leather and not the semis - crust with a aniline base like annonay vegano and betis calf etc. Those you can polish to a antique effect but still has a color base to it. They don't flake or leave dust color behind as natural crust leather.
     


  2. ntempleman

    ntempleman Senior member

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    Looks great in pictures doesn't it
     


  3. phphl

    phphl Active Member

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    Looking for some advice on the choice of box calf... The maker has the choice of Freudenberg and Polish box calf
    I don't see much comments on Polish calf on the forum. Would be grateful if anyone could chime in!

    On the other hand, I seem to get the impression that people nowadays prefer Annonay/Du Puy to Freudenberg. Is it true that French calf has generally better quality than Freudenberg?
     


  4. Steven Cash

    Steven Cash Senior member

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    I think it has been previously established that leather, these days, is not what it used to be for a multitude of reasons. Assuming my somewhat limited understanding of that rather sweeping statement is true, does that mean that the 1786 Russian hide is the "best" leather you can buy today?
     


  5. dopey

    dopey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Apart from the "neato" and historic factors, both of which are real and may give you enjoyment, the rescued hides are not especially good for shoemaking. They are a little stiff and brittle, more prone to cracking than alternatives, etc. The look is unique and the story is interesting so get them if that appeals to you but not because you think it is the best leather available for shoes.
     


  6. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I've never been entirely enamored of it but I have a somewhat small piece of what is purported to be the original stuff--off die Frau Metta Catharina.

    I can't say I like it very much...it doesn't seem to have all that much life or resiliency. I suspect after so much time in the mud off the coast of Cornwall some deterioration might have occurred. That said, I have never had a piece of the really prime hides that were in the center of the shipment that was large enough to make anything out of. So my sample may not be representative. It was vegetable tanned and said to be strong and resilient and water resistant.

    There is a tannery in Sweden that tans reindeer hides using a process similar or identical to the old Russia Calf. I have pieces of it too and it is much more supple.

    There should be a distinction made between hides for leather and leather, however. Most of what is being said (even when the words indicate otherwise) is that the way animals are raised these days precludes any result approaching the tight, dense leather that came from an earlier era when animals were not forced (chemically) to weight and market.

    And while tanning methods and the understanding of the chemistry of tanning is probably better now than it was in 1786, the same strictures apply--if the tanning process is accelerated the result is often subpar relative to older, slower, methods.

    Bottom line, however, is that even the best modern tanning methods cannot yield great leather if the raw materials are not up-to-snuff.
     


  7. DesB3rd

    DesB3rd Member

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    "from an earlier era when animals were not forced (chemically) to weight and market."

    Is anyone out there pitching their hides as coming from (say) organic milk herds (ie old, clean, grass-fed, open-field cattle?) I'd expect this would make good press in the premium goods market.

    In Europe at least thereally must now be a sizeable head of such cattle.
     


  8. Steven Cash

    Steven Cash Senior member

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    Thanks for the information chaps! I was put off by the cracking (and the price I have to admit) but attracted by the history.

    In the end I am quite pleased now that I decided to commission my shoes in newer leather, purely from the condition of the hide (as opposed to superior methods etc) but did order a wallet made out of the 1786 hide as really it won't get much abuse and the history is, as you say very interesting. Particularly for me as the Metta Catharina sank 201 years ago to the day I was born.

    Boots and shoes do look wonderful made out of this leather but then again, there are other hatchgrain leathers which I am sure would look equally as nice, if not more.
     


  9. j ingevaldsson

    j ingevaldsson Senior member

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    There is a decent amount of organically raised cattle in Europe, yes, but from what I understand the "problem" looking at it from a leather quality perspective, is that most of these animals gets to live relatively long lives so the hides coming from them are very big and not that dense and flawless as you are looking for to use in premium shoes.
     


  10. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Yes, and the reason is that most of the cattle in Europe are breeds suitable for milking. So it is advantageous to defer slaughter until the animal is no longer producing at a reasonable rate.

    Many of the hides on the market, however...worldwide...are from meat breeds and they only need to go to full size. An Angus or Hereford will have a relatively short life compared to a Jersey. Part and parcel of that is accelerating growth (with hormones, usually) as much as is possible...which is not any more beneficial to dense leather than a long life.
     


  11. alexrus

    alexrus New Member

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  12. starro

    starro Senior member

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    Leather is acidic, so I don't see how a mild acid could damage it. All bets would be off with a strong acid, of course.
     


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