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Shoes: Difference between high quality and entry level Suede on AE?

sterlingindigo

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The length of the nap is certainly trimmed or shaved from original, is it not??
 

Ageless

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Meermin had 3 reverse calf suedes for the Custom boot event: Du Poy (or Zonta?) Alicante which comes a small
$10 USD premium, CFS Janus Butts and Sciarada Castoro. Janus Butts and Castoro are ~2mm in thickness and are more appropriate for boots. I'm not sure if the Meermin rep I was talking to was referring to Zonta or Du Poy Alicante because they didn't know either. They told me that Alicante is the finest of the three. I believe Alicante is roughly 1.2-1.4mm and are more appropriate for dress shoes. As per Tannery Row's listing, Janus butts are 4.5-5.5 oz (1.8-2.2 mm) and are made from Ox hides as opposed to calf. Janus calves are 3.5-4.5 oz (1.4-1.8mm).

Theoretically thinner suedes with less dermis would have a finer nap. There isn't a whole lot comparing different suede tannages. In the Antonio Meccariello thread, a user said Antonio preferred to use Zonta butts over Janus Butts.

There are a lot of reverse calf makers. I've heard of Du Poy, Annonay, Zonta, CFS, and Sciarada. I hope someone with experience or swatches can enlighten us on suede quality.
 

nstarleather

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Meermin had 3 reverse calf suedes for the Custom boot event: Du Poy (or Zonta?) Alicante which comes a small
$10 USD premium, CFS Janus Butts and Sciarada Castoro. Janus Butts and Castoro are ~2mm in thickness and are more appropriate for boots. I'm not sure if the Meermin rep I was talking to was referring to Zonta or Du Poy Alicante because they didn't know either. They told me that Alicante is the finest of the three. I believe Alicante is roughly 1.2-1.4mm and are more appropriate for dress shoes. As per Tannery Row's listing, Janus butts are 4.5-5.5 oz (1.8-2.2 mm) and are made from Ox hides as opposed to calf. Janus calves are 3.5-4.5 oz (1.4-1.8mm).

Theoretically thinner suedes with less dermis would have a finer nap. There isn't a whole lot comparing different suede tannages. In the Antonio Meccariello thread, a user said Antonio preferred to use Zonta butts over Janus Butts.

There are a lot of reverse calf makers. I've heard of Du Poy, Annonay, Zonta, CFS, and Sciarada. I hope someone with experience or swatches can enlighten us on suede quality.
I’ve bought thousands of pounds of scrap from Alden and left over hides from Wolverine’s 1000 mile program, but that means I only get to compare Janus (Alden) to a few different “true suedes” (Wolverine) but they are all CF.

I have bought some cheap suede here and there from “no name” tanneries but it’s hard to put into words the differences in quality. I mean I could have you a hide of each and you’d pick the CF Stead every time, but the difference you feel is very abstract.
 

joe_moreland_

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When I first got into high quality welted footwear and leather goods a few years ago, I dove into learning about leather reading any source I could. When I reached suede, I got stuck. There's really so little information out there and what information is out there regularly conflicts with other information. For example, and I don't point this out to create conflict, only to highlight the uncertainty, a previous member posted in this thread that genuine leather includes a portion of the grain layer, yet the excerpt below from an article on BestLeather.org explains it differently. I suppose the uncertainty may come from the fact that any tannery can make leather any way they like. But I do think some countries have regulations controlling how a leather item can be labeled, marketed, and sold so that, for example, a maker can't pass off laminated crap as cordovan.

The bottom part of the leather, the part that is split off from the grain at the grain/corium junction, goes by many different names, and it can get really, really confusing. Many people refer to this bottom layer of leather as “genuine leather”, however, the term isn’t used consistently and is also used to mean real leather as opposed to manmade faux leathers. More terms you may see: split leather, corrected leather, embossed leather, coated leather, Suede, Napa leather (again, not a consistently used term), painted leather, and more. For our purposes, we’re going to refer to it as split leather.
The same article also includes:
1642970663298.png


I suppose in the end it's all up to the tanneries and the general universal definition of suede could be anything from the underside containing a portion of the corium, which gives the fibrous nap, whether it's from the split/drop or something from the underside of the higher quality top portion like reverse calf.
 

nstarleather

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When I first got into high quality welted footwear and leather goods a few years ago, I dove into learning about leather reading any source I could. When I reached suede, I got stuck. There's really so little information out there and what information is out there regularly conflicts with other information. For example, and I don't point this out to create conflict, only to highlight the uncertainty, a previous member posted in this thread that genuine leather includes a portion of the grain layer, yet the excerpt below from an article on BestLeather.org explains it differently. I suppose the uncertainty may come from the fact that any tannery can make leather any way they like. But I do think some countries have regulations controlling how a leather item can be labeled, marketed, and sold so that, for example, a maker can't pass off laminated crap as cordovan.



The same article also includes:
View attachment 1742331

I suppose in the end it's all up to the tanneries and the general universal definition of suede could be anything from the underside containing a portion of the corium, which gives the fibrous nap, whether it's from the split/drop or something from the underside of the higher quality top portion like reverse calf.
Forget 99% of what the internet says about leather grades, it's oversimplified to the point of deceit.
Let me explain why the above drawing is nonsense. Here's a corrected version:
rXJkLds.jpeg


All leather is genuine, all leather that's not "true split suede" is top grain. Here's a post from Horween that does a pretty good job explaining: https://www.thetanneryrow.com/leather101/2016/9/8/moksha-sample-blog-post-01

These “leather grades” or types are not grades in the same sense as that USDA Beef, Gasoline, lumber, diamonds or anything else that is "officially graded" Not hierarchy where one type is always better than the next.

The differences in cost have a lot more to do with the tannery, animal and country it’s made in than those terms. Less than 10% difference in cost for full grain vs corrected grain from the same tannery.

Those "grades/types" are basically a "quick and dirty" way to judge quality if you're looking at something that's low priced or that doesn't go into detail on the leather used, but nowhere close to an official scale.

Real leather grading is a thing but it's more about the amount of defects on an individual hide and varies by tannery; there is no uniform system. For some it's A,B,C, others 1,2,3, or I, II, III or Standard, Utility, Special.

An example: I might get an email from a supplier saying: "Hey I've got a pallet of cheap full grain leather but it's a "low grade", meaning the hides will be pretty "rough" when it comes to defects, scratches and scars.

The description usually given in "grades of leather" articles on blogs for "genuine leather" describes a kind of leather called a finished split, basically cheap suede with a coating to make it look smooth. But, were you to call up a tannery, you couldn't ask to buy "genuine leather" and expect them to know what you wanted.

On the other side of the assumed quality spectrum is full grain but it's only official definition is leather that has not had the surface altered besides removing the hair. Historically tanneries would reserve only their best, defect free hides for full grain, but there is nothing inherent in the term that requires that. As we know, many companies will cut corners when it comes to quality and if you aren't worried about using only the best hides, full grain leather actually requires less machinery to make.

I could scrape a dead raccoon off the road, remove the skin and hair and soak it in urine; the result would be "full grain leather" but I wouldn't call it the highest "grade" of leather.

There's so much more that goes into making good leather than just that one step. The tanning solutions and finishes are the "secret sauce" for some tanneries which is why full grain leather from Horween in Chicago will cost $10 per square foot whereas full grain from a tannery in Asia is under $2.
 

DWFII

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As long as it is derived from the skin of an animal it is 'genuine leather'. That's what leather is--the preserved hide of an animal.

Technically, shell cordovan is not leather as it is not part of the skin or hide.

Bottom line is that the longer fibers of the nap, if not mechanically altered, originate in the looser, less dense, corium. There is little to no inherent strength in the corium. In thicker hides used for insole and outsole, shoemakers go to great lengths to remove the loose fibers of the corium and flesh.
 

nstarleather

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As long as it is derived from the skin of an animal it is 'genuine leather'. That's what leather is--the preserved hide of an animal.

Technically, shell cordovan is not leather as it is not part of the skin or hide.

Bottom line is that the longer fibers of the nap, if not mechanically altered, originate in the looser, less dense, corium. There is little to no inherent strength in the corium. In thicker hides used for insole and outsole, shoemakers go to great lengths to remove the loose fibers of the corium and flesh.
Yeah I get so frustrated when ever I see things presented as ¨grades¨…like full grain lamb vs thick cow hide suede, which is actually more durable? People think it’s always ”full grain or bust”…the fact that this thread is about high end suede shows that’s a myth.
 

Anachronist

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Can’t add content-wise to this thread, but would like to thank the experts here, who have shared so much of their wisdom! Really great thread!
 

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