There has been a huge surge in popularity of Goodyear welted stud rubber soles as used by the premium English shoemakers such as Church, Crockett & Jones, Loakes, Sanders, Cheaney, Alfred Sargent and Trickers. These often appear under the English brand name of ‘Dainite’. Here we look at the pros and cons of stud rubber soles against leather ones:
Leather is certainly more traditional. Rubber soles only came into being around the time of WWI. Traditionally tanned leather soles using the ‘oak bark’ method whereby the sole leather was submerged in a mixture of oak bark and acorns for a couple of years has long since gone by the wayside in all but the most expensive men’s footwear. It is both time consuming and expensive to produce this iron hard sole leather but it really did wear two or three times as long as other sole leather. 21st century sole leather as used in shoes under £500 is not as durable as rubber. In fact Dainite rubber soles will last twice as long as these leather soles. Also when sole leather gets very thin it can get rather porous. Whereas rubber remains water tight right up to the moment that a hole appears.
We are advised to alternate our footwear for good reason. We all lose a considerable amount of perspiration through our feet on even colder days and this moisture needs to be allowed to escape. But with leather soled shoes it is especially important to alternate your footwear as damp sole leather can wear a great deal faster than when bone dry. With rubber soled footwear alternating is still important to allow the linings to dry out but isn’t an issue as far as the soles are concerned.
So what are the drawbacks of a Dainite rubber soled shoe? Well actually there are very few. So long as the welts of the shoe are leather one cannot tell what the soles are when looking down from above. Rubber is also grippier than leather so you are less likely to slip over on a wet surface. Some might worry feet could get hot without leather soles but so long as the insole of the shoe is made of a good thick piece of leather then feet can continue to breathe properly.