1. Styleforum Gives - Holiday Charity Auction 8: A Bespoke Coat from David Reeves

    We are very proud to present this year's edition of the Styleforum Holiday Charity Auctions, this year in support of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Spokane (www.rmhcspokane.org). Each Auction lasts 24 hours. Please follow and bid on all the auctions.

    The 6th auction of the year is for a Bespoke Coat from David Reeves. Please bid often and generously here

    Fok and the Styleforum Team.

    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice

STYLE. COMMUNITY. GREAT CLOTHING.

Bored of counting likes on social networks? At Styleforum, you’ll find rousing discussions that go beyond strings of emojis.

Click Here to join Styleforum's thousands of style enthusiasts today!

Leather Quality and Properties

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

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,463
    Likes Received:
    3,074
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    I have not tried vectran...never heard of it, wouldn't know where to get it. Are you "stationed" in the USA?

    What I use is called Teklon, but it's still dacron. So I have a sneaking suspicion...no hard evidence, mind you...that Vectran is just a proprietary "brand name" for dacron--as Teklon is.

    As for the wrinkling...it is my opinion that it is flanky leather--taken from the margins of a hide. Something that ought, in my opinion, have been discarded or used for heel pads.
     


  2. variancelog

    variancelog Senior Member

    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    61
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2013
    Location:
    Winterpeg, Canada
    Hi DW. I am actually from Canada, but vectran is more readily available in the USA than here (like most things other than snow). It is structurally different than dacron and is, I believe, highly regarded for use in marine/yachting ropes. Stretch is said to be negligible. When I searched online I found examples of braided rope and the thinnest I could find easily is 1.5mm. Here is a link with some information on the practical qualities of vectran: http://www.doylesails.com/design/vectran.html

    I suspected that the wrinkly leather was from a piece not intended for an upper. I didn't know anything about leather quality when I got the shoes, or I would have complained and asked for a different pair. Or bought a better shoe to begin with! Thanks for the insight!
     


  3. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,463
    Likes Received:
    3,074
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    I thank you for taking the time to provide that link. I looked it over and while this may seem contrary I think it is too high tech for me. As mentioned above I would really rather use natural fibers even in preference to dacron, if the resulting yarn is strong.

    For me dacron was / is an act of desperation, as who should say. But it was also a fiber that has been used in the industry for some time, even for inseaming...so it was available as well as available in formats that I could readily adapt.

    I also mentioned that I had run down some long fibered, wet spun hemp. Since hemp is naturally anti-bacterial it sound like just the ticket for me. Looking forward to wreaking havoc with some de-toxed cannabis sativa ;)

    At least until that goes away, too...

    Thanks again, I appreciate the thought.

    --
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014


  4. variancelog

    variancelog Senior Member

    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    61
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2013
    Location:
    Winterpeg, Canada
    I can understand wanting to use natural materials, other things being equal. I hope that the hemp you ordered is the ticket and look forward to hearing how it works out!
     


  5. Munky

    Munky Distinguished Member

    Messages:
    1,733
    Likes Received:
    501
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Location:
    Wales, UK
    I would welcome DWF's and other people's views on this. I presume that there is no 'standard' when it comes to calf leather. Am I right in thinking this and that what passes as calf leather varies, considerably? If this is the case, how do you spot the 'best' as opposed to lesser quality? Are there certain things to look out for in identifying very good quality calf, as opposed to not such good quality? In other words, what are the characteristics of the best calf leather that we need to look out for?
     


  6. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,463
    Likes Received:
    3,074
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    My opinion...At some level, if the slaughter and preparation of raw and blue hides are the same or similar there is not going to be much difference in quality. Age, of course is somewhat of a factor. How a tanner defines calf--calf can be anything from unborn to what? a year old?

    Then we come to tanning, the same basic principle holds--if the tanning procedures are the same or similar there shouldn't be any real discrepancy in quality.

    Finally it's down to finishing...that's where the differences really are. An opaque top coat will look and break in differently than an aniline dye. And crust will behave differently as well.

    If you associate "quality" with appearance only, the better quality calf skins are always going to be more transparent--allowing you to "look into" the leather.

    Also, a good quality calf will have almost no "pores" or "hair follicle" pits. They'll be there...as in any leather...but the coarser, the more open, the less quality I would assign to a leather that purports to be calf. Other leathers have their own character in that respect. But calf is a young animal...it is prized for the fineness of it's grain surface.

    Real quality is a combination of things though--temper, hand, density, thickness, etc.. Sometimes it just take years of hairpulling and disappointment to get to the point where you can discern the really good from the pretty good and the pretty good from the OK. Experience--hands-on experience. Handling the good and the bad. Working with it.

    PS...I would be remiss if I didn't add that feed, water, and other intangibles such as exposure to disease or bot flies will make a difference but esp. the environmental factors will show up in the temper and density of the leather.

    --
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014


  7. Munky

    Munky Distinguished Member

    Messages:
    1,733
    Likes Received:
    501
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Location:
    Wales, UK
    Thanks, as always, for your detailed response. It's much appreciated. Munky
     


  8. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Distinguished Member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    4,469
    Likes Received:
    901
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    Location:
    London, UK
    [​IMG]

    The best part of a calf hide is the butt. Here the leather is firm and has relatively few faults. The higher up you go the inferior the leather becomes: the leather is less firm and "growth" and other problems appear. Equally the more you go to the sides into the belly, the worse the leather gets.

    For top quality work the pieces should be cut in mirror figuration from the left and right of the spine (but should not go over the spine). The best sections of the hide should be used for the most visible section of the shoe: the vamp. For the quarters you can use slightly inferior leather. The "clickers" (cutters) are highly experienced to "read" a hide and know what section to cut from, making sure flaws will end-up on the clicking room floor.

    Ultimately it is the shoemaking firm who will have instructed the clicker whether he should aim for quality or economy.
     


  9. Munky

    Munky Distinguished Member

    Messages:
    1,733
    Likes Received:
    501
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Location:
    Wales, UK
    An impossible question: is 'Italian leather' good? Is it different to any other leather? I have seen shoes the are described as being made from Italian leather, so I am assuming that it is better than...what, exactly? Or is it just an advertising ploy?
     


  10. variancelog

    variancelog Senior Member

    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    61
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2013
    Location:
    Winterpeg, Canada
    It should be noted that the leather I showed above is supposedly aniline dyed French boxcalf. While the leather on the vamp and toe box is smooth and pleasant looking, the leather on one of the straps is not. As DW pointed out, this is likely because the piece was cut from an inappropriate part of the hide (which is the clicker's job). I mention this only to point out that the type of leather is only part of the story. The other part -- whether the pieces used in the shoe will appropriately chosen -- is another factor that the shoe buyer should be mindful of. If I had known more about this when I first bought the shoes, I would have returned them. That being said, this advice probably only applies to cheap shoes. I'm fairly confident that such poor clicking would never happen with shoes from high-end makers.
     


  11. CalzolaiFeF

    CalzolaiFeF Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    33
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2014
    Location:
    Rome, Italy

    Italian leather in itself doesn't mean anything. But there are (and were) some Italian tanneries who produced very high quality calf: among them ILCEA (that once supplied the museum calf to John Lobb), Nuova OSBA, Cornelia, Bonaudo and Concerie del Chienti.
     


  12. Munky

    Munky Distinguished Member

    Messages:
    1,733
    Likes Received:
    501
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Location:
    Wales, UK
    Hello Calzo, Thank you for your helpful response - from an Italian, too!
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2014


  13. WICaniac

    WICaniac Senior Member

    Messages:
    266
    Likes Received:
    34
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    I apologize for not first exhaustively researching the 70 pages of this thread, but I am hoping the experts here can help me weigh my options for a boot I am having made to order. I am trying to convert a dress boot (the Allen Edmonds Shaker Heights) into a an all-weather version of itself by removing the tweed side panels and adding a mini-lug sole. I love the chili calfskin that is (was) a standard option, but I am contemplating replacing it with Horween Dublin or Chromexcel to as to offer better protection against snowy, salty sidewalks. I want to retain the dressiness of the original boot as much as possible without worrying obsessively about salt damage. I'm guessing the Chromexcel is the happy medium (not as much pull-up as the Dublin), but I am merely guessing. I will admit that I also want to feel that I am getting the best value for my money, as I can have the boot made in any of these three leathers for the same price. Thanks for any advice.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014


  14. Munky

    Munky Distinguished Member

    Messages:
    1,733
    Likes Received:
    501
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Location:
    Wales, UK
    Excuse me. Where is VegTan? He was the founder of this thread and I hope he is ok.
     


  15. VegTan

    VegTan Senior Member

    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    92
    Joined:
    May 4, 2013
    Thank you, I'm OK.

    The hearsay below has been confirmed.

     


Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by