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Leather Quality and Properties

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

  1. mw313

    mw313 Senior member

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    I love both if those soles but I do see what you mean with to the flinty character. The Rendenbach soles feel sturdier to me at first as well as a bit more cushioned in feel, but overtime I see some sort of chipping that occurs versus a smooth filing down of the Baker soles over time.
     
  2. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker

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    Thank you for that...there has been some controversy about this--I have been saying this time out of mind with some folks who do not have any real background or objective experience concluding that I was catastrophizing. You as a foot doctor put that notion comfortably to rest. Thanks again.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
  3. mw313

    mw313 Senior member

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    No problem!! That is why we make a great team. We can cover most topics together from the technical and medical aspects.

    That is why we generally recommend full leather shoes or higher end running shoes with mesh and breathable materials to help those patients or any patients who sweat a lot or are in general at risk people with diabetes.

    Breath ability is the most important aspect for those people because the fungus lives for dark, warm, and moist environments. The mesh sneakers help for light as well as cooling and moisture. The full leather shoes can't help the darkness but the breathable leather helps moisture and warmth to a point because some more heat can escape. Then using the shoe trees and the. Giving at least one day rest will help the residual moisture and heat to escape.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  4. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member

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    Traditionally English bespoke shoemakers line the back section of a lace-up shoe (but not a loafer or a boot) in upper leather and the front section in "horse". Although the leather originally was horse front, it comes these days from a cow, has a very soft hand, drapes well and is highly absorbent. It might even be the bottom split of a cow hide with an added grain texture. (Although I have heard others claim that it is not a leather split.)

    http://www.aacrack.co.uk/catalogue.asp?product_id=80

    Lining the back section in upper leather is not a cost-saving exercise, as any upper leather (even you won't use the very best sections for the lining) is considerably more expensive than any dedicated lining leather.
     
  5. Zapasman

    Zapasman Senior member

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    Thanks Bengal. I thought ALL bespokes makers would use vegetable linings for their shoes
     
  6. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    and people
    buy used
    shoes...
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    ..... Linjer briefcases are made out of full grain leather. I am going to shamelessly steal from our competitor Saddleback, because honestly I think they do an excellent job explaining it. The illustration below explains it well: [​IMG] @DWFII what do you you think of this diagram and terminology ?
     
  8. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker

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    FWIW...not saying anything specifically about "upper" leathers...the veg tanned lining leather I use is more expensive than many chrome tanned leathers I've bought.

    Additionally, and I am perhaps the odd man out here...but I don't think softness is the first, or best, criteria for choosing/using lining leathers--just the opposite, IMO, esp. around the back of the heel and quarters.

    And I've seen (and don't think it is all that unusual) corrected grain chrome tans used in the linings of shoes.
     
  9. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker

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    Nothing wrong with it as far as I can see. I suspect veg tans tend to be full grain, as a default, more often than chrome tans
     
  10. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    i've never heard
    of 'genuine leather'
    being used
    to mean split
     
  11. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    I have a number of musings on the topic of linings, sweat, etc.

    First of all, for mw313, what is the percentage of foot's sweat glands that are on the sole of the foot vs. the sides/top? My impression is that most of the foot's sweat is from the sole (akin to the palm of the hands); assuming that to be case, doesn't the insole matter much more than the lining?

    For the water/sweat that is generated by the sides/top of the foot, in some sense wouldn't it be best if the lining were actually totally occlusive, in that after the foot is removed from the shoe the interior of the shoe would not remain damp once the surface water evaporated? This in contrast to a water-laden lining that would take longer to dry and be more susceptible to bacterial and fungal action? Plus, the occlusive lining would avoid wicking moisture from the insole (against which the lining is lasted) into the lining. Of course, that would put more burden on the socks (assuming one is wearing them) to absorb the moisture while the foot is in the shoe.

    On the other side of things, there remains the question of how much moisture is actually conveyed through a veg-tan lining to the upper for evaporation, which, assuming it happens, would provide both cooling and reduction of moisture inside the shoe.

    I've always been a bit skeptical of the idea that much water actually evaporates through the sole, given the use of cements in the interface of the insole and the outsole, plus the presence of tarred-felt or cork-composite in the void of a welted shoe. My guess is the much of the water is absorbed into the insole, from which it evaporates after the shoe is removed.

    I am also a big fan of wool socks; even when I wear something like Bean Boots, which are highly occlusive, my feet feel dry when I remove the boots, whereas with cotton socks my feet often feel damp irrespective of the type of footwear I've been wearing.

    In terms of the London tradition, my surmise is that the upper-colored linings are used for aesthetic reasons -- I do think they look a bit nicer, plus the trimmed edge will more closely match the upper, unlike a trimmed veg tan.

    I think this week I will investigate the water-absorbing capacity of Bakers insole leather and that of a few different lining/upper leathers. Given the easy calculations in the weight of water ('a pint a pound the world around'), it should be easy to figure out how much water a shoe can absorb.
     
  12. Zapasman

    Zapasman Senior member

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    This?.

    [​IMG]


    Great post, I share the same doubts about elimination of moisture. I will be waiting for your research. Thanks.
     
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker

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    Well, what is leather? Fundamentally, it's preserved animal hide. when tanned the hole substance of a hide is leather. A split is part of that substance albeit not a very high qualityy part--just as much as belly is part of the hide.

    Splits are leather...genuine leather.
     
  14. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker

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    First the whole issue of "breathability" and wicking and occlusiveness is vastly and widely misunderstood. Leather is not a sieve...water goes into it but not necessarily through it. Breathability doesn't mean that every time you take a step air or moisture is pushed out through the pores.

    Yes, the insole itself will wick moisture away from the foot. But if you have an insole that is superficially breathable backed up by an occlusive layer, the insole is effectively sealed and transport of moisture is impaired. If you want to compare it to "breathability" (which I think is a little suspect), think of it this way--if your lungs are clogged with tobacco tar it doesn't matter how much empty volume is there, you won't be able to draw a full breath.

    But, that said, your experience with the Bean boots is, I suspect, more anomalous than common. There were a number of scientific studies done (and quoted here in another thread that got into this subject) indicating that rubber outsole and plastic or rubber footwear were occlusive and did foster the growth of fungus and other foot diseases. The conclusion of those studies was almost universally and unequivocally, to avoid occlusive footwear. I suspect that @mw313...being a foot doctor, and a member of the medical profession...has a better perspective on this that either of us do. My own experience is that my feet are cooler and drier with cotton socks than with polyester socks.

    And FWIW, cement covered insoles and cement based cork, are neither universal nor were they always the case. IOW, if we rely modern construction methods exclusively...and the resulting "dumb down" of our expectations...as some sort of baseline or standard, we can never expect to get any kind of objective understanding of the processes.

    And finally, every foot, every human being is different. Almost none of us can be expected to conform precisely to mechanical predictions or influences. Shoes evolved...and I think it should be regarded as a good thing...to deal with the worst of situations rather than the statistical norm, or the least adverse conditions. Someone who perspires a lot will obviously have more issues than someone who hardly raises a mist.

    But then, bespoke makers, almost by definition, don't deal with, much less set out to deal with, feet that are statistically average. Leave that to the manufacturers.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
  15. vmss

    vmss Senior member

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    Just wondering, I have a Allen Edmonds independence collection using lambskin leather lining. It feels very soft, however is there there any differences between lambskin and calf lining?
     
  16. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker

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    Lamb and sheep, and to a lesser degree kid and goat, tend to delaminate
     
  17. mw313

    mw313 Senior member

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    exactly! the shoe may not be infected with the fungus in all cases but it is best to be on the concerned side if you are immunocompromised at all.

    For those people, I would suggest spraying lysol to kill most germs and then using anti-fungal powders for the feet and possibly even in the shoes for the beginning. UV light also is a way to kill the germs/fungus so there is a product called the steri-shoe which can be inserted into the shoe like a normal shoe tree but the UV light that is emitted will kill any organisms in there.
     
    1 person likes this.
  18. striker

    striker Senior member

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    I had a pair of shoe that I went trekking in and it became fungus infected.

    I sprayed all kinds of anti bacterial spray and wiped it with anti fungal essential oils (tea tree, oil of oregano and cedarwood oil). If i just store it away for more than 3 months, there will be a patch of mold on the leather. The same storage conditions do not appear to harm my other shoes. I suspect that once infected, it is an incurable disease. I stopped short of using the UV light.

    The growth was so strong that even the shoe trees that i thought was anti bacterial cedarwood also had white moldy growth.

    I threw the shoe away eventually.
     
  19. mw313

    mw313 Senior member

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    Thanks for both of your great responses and comments! This is the type of conversation that I really love to have.

    So to address your concerns @shoefan and @DWFII :


    Yes you are right in that the greatest number of sweat glands are on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands. There are about 250,000 sweat glands between an average pair of feet (on the sole alone) that produce about 1/2 pint of liquid every day. There are plenty of sweat glands around the rest of the foot as well, but it is no where near as great as the sole. I have never heard of an exact percentage and it should vary from person to person as well. In that sense, the insole is the most important for absorbing sweat, but the lining has importance for other reasons.

    These sweat glands both on the sole and around the foot are called eccrine sweat glands and they produce sweat that is mainly water and sodium. That is where the lining type starts to matter more. In the human body, sweating is meant to cool down the body because the liquid released will evaporate which actually cools the body, even though we feel very warm. (There are many phenomena like this, such as feeling warm when drinking alcohol even though it actually cools down the body due to physiologic changes in blood vessels.) The salt in the sweat actually helps this process and the salt also acts as a natural way to prevent growth of microorganisms like bacteria and fungus, because the environment becomes very off balanced for the microorganisms' normal living conditions.

    In a coated lining, you are right that the liquid will slip right off, but the salt doesn't impregnate the leather as it would in a non treated chrome or veg tan leather, where the pores are still more opened. If you wear a pair of shoes that has a coated liner, you can feel the water slide right off of the surface if you rub your finger over it. (I have actually tried this out with some cheap shoes a while back.) That doesn't mean that the liquid will evaporate more quickly because evaporation can only occur so quickly and your socks will have to absorb more of the moisture during the mean time. There also can be a sort of seal from your foot to the leather from the properties of water involving surface tension which would decrease some of the evaporation while wearing the shoes. (I think we can skip the physics behind this part because it probably is a bit above all of our heads and I don't deal with water physics too often anymore, since being out of the many required physics and chemistry courses before medical school.)

    In terms of the evaporation process, yes there can be some water to move through the lining and into the upper to evaporate, but I mean more from the opening of the shoe itself, both during wearing and more so after taking them off. Most shoes are covered in polish which reduces the evaporative process anyway because more of the pores are covered by the waxes. To DW's comment, there is a difference between breathability (as in a mesh athletic shoe where there are large openings for air (and possibly water) exchange vs moisture wicking and absorption into the leather which is evaporated overtime (but more so after the shoe is removed).

    The insole transmitting moisture to the outsole for evaporation should not be much at all, because of the extra materials between these surfaces, like cork, glue, etc.; not to mention that fact that the outsole of the shoe in normally on the ground surface which will decrease liquid dispersion and evaporation. That liquid from the feet should mainly be sitting in the insole until the shoe is removed and will evaporate from that point, in addition to the remaining moisture in the lining. It takes a lot of moisture application for quite a period of time to really saturate a nice thick leather insole.

    Then the whole cedar (vs other wood) shoe tree theory comes in as well for evaporation. (I think that we can leave that controversy to the other threads.) This is why we suggest to leave the shoes "out to dry" for at least 24-48 hours depending on length of wear and amount of sweating for that person. Truthfully, I believe that the "out to dry" period is probably the most important part to prevent damage and microorganism growth in the shoes, because I have seen many people who wear cheap shoes with synthetic leather and don't have fungal problems. Now many people have immune systems strong enough to fight the fungal growth anyway, but as many of you guys may have learned first hand, you don't have to have HIV or diabetes to get athletes foot or fungal nails.

    In a veg tan or non coated chrome, moisture will absorb into the leather so there is a larger concentration gradient between the water and salt on the surface of the leather. This actually helps evaporative cooling from the shoe surface when wearing and since less moisture will need to be absorbed into the socks, more moisture can evaporate from the socks when wearing as well. (This part isn't really important after taking the shoes off because the feet and damp socks are no longer in the shoes.)
    The higher concentration of salt left on the leather, even while wearing, will further help stop the growth of microorganisms because it is changing their ideal living environment again. (Think of old civilizations salting meat to help preserve them, which really was stopping bacteria and fungus from breaking down the tissue/meat, which leather technically is.)

    Speaking of the socks, they can be important, but benefits vary from person to person. I personally prefer natural fiber socks like cotton, wool, bamboo fibers, etc. Cotton socks are great to take in moisture but they can take quite a long time to "dry out." Some of the synthetic fibers can help with moisture wicking, but can produce odor in some people. I personally wear cotton athletic socks because the moisture wicking athletic socks make my extremely sweaty feet smell.
    For the anti fungal/microbial purposes there are also socks with copper fibers which will cover that side as well as ones with bamboo fibers for a similar function. I do commonly wear dress socks with bamboo fibers and they help greatly. I have not worn copper fiber socks yet, but I have read published articles on them (and plan on referencing them in an upcoming paper/research study I am working on having published dealing with fungal infections of the feet) and the benefits. I just haven't found any that are available in extra large sizes yet, because normal sizes rip after a short time of wear for my large feet and heavy wear that I put on socks. I like wool socks as well and they are great for many people as long as they don't feel itchy when wearing them, as some people complain of. Wool is a material that docs commonly advise for people with sweating and fungal problems.

    In terms of DWFII 's comment on outsole materials, and the horrible dumbing down of shoe construction for most cheaply made shoes that many people wear (as well as most things in life anymore), there is an occlusion from the rubber, but as mentioned earlier, there can't be much water loss from the outsole anyway, so it is more important to prevent water from entering, as in rainwater. The rubber types can also help in pressure distribution and absorption, which is very beneficial for people with damaged feet or who are susceptible to ulcerations like diabetic patients with neuropathy (loss of sensation and function of nerves from the furthest extremities like hands and feet).

    To DW's comment on occlusive nature of some materials, If the shoe upper material itself is occlusive, like rubber, there is a much greater chance of microbial growth because they are in the perfect environment to survive and replicate.

    I agree with DW's last remarks as well in that there are always variations from person to person and some people defy all of the rules, so many people won't have to worry about any of this. Since we are a part of the group who do care about such technical details, I feel that this is very important to think about because it can make the difference for people with conditions of the feet, diabetes, neuropathy, hyperhydrosis (overactive sweating), etc. It can make a huge impact on material selection and eventual cost of the product. There are always companies who will cut corners entirely for the bottom line, but some shoemakers/factories and customers want the best in every way possible, and I feel that this is one set of factors to think about if the client/patient has any concerns.

    In terms of the further research side, I can't see many of the topics having official research done besides what we have mentioned recently. I guess you could measure the absorptive capacity of the leather linings and insoles, but it probably isn't worth trying to find out evaporative levels through the uppers and outsoles, because it would be too difficult to prevent evaporation out of the openings of the shoe and mirroring the average temperature in the shoe with the space taken up where the foot would be as well.
    I would be interested in hearing suggestions for research if anyone has some though. I'm sure I could speak with some of the research guys at my teaching hospital and discuss things if any make sense or sound creative enough to make a difference on the field.

    I hope that this is clear from my end, but I'm quite tired after a long day of yard work, so please feel free to ask for further clarification on my thoughts if something sounds a bit off.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
  20. mw313

    mw313 Senior member

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    some infestations are already too strong to be able to destroy without very drastic measures such as UV light treatment or wiping down with clorox. The clorox may damage some of the other materials so use this as a last resort.

    The antibacterial spray will stop bacteria but it may not be covering fungus, which have different molecular structures and protective measures against antibiotics.
     

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