Leather is such a fascinating and versatile material. However, there is much confusion on the different types of shoe leather. As well as knowing what are the different benefits and disadvantages of each. That’s what I’m here to try and explain.
So, to start off there are different grades of leather used for different purposes. The first of these to discuss, as shown in the diagram below, is full grain leather, followed by top grain, and finally suede.
Full Grain Leather
So, let’s start with full grain leather. What are the benefits and disadvantages and when is the best time to use this type of leather? Full grain is considered by most to be the best quality of leather, sitting at the top of the chain. This is because the term “full” means it has not been buffed or sanded to remove any imperfections. This results in a thicker grain and the tight porous nature of the grain prevents moisture retention. Only a few parts of the animal are of good enough quality to be considered suitable to be full grain leather which in turn makes it more expensive. Overall, full grain leather is a strong material that will last for years with the proper care.
Polished Side Leather
The next leather we will discuss is polished corrected side leather. This leather is created using a mature hide which is stiffer and can lead to notable creases. However, this method buffers and sands out any imperfections in the leather and leaves it looking polished with a notable shine. This leather is best suited for a formal look and most commonly seen in black to match your tuxedo.
Another leather we will look at is suede leather. Suede is made using a different part of the leather compared to the norm. It uses the fleshy part of the leather which is the sanded and buffed to create a soft thin texture with a unique nap. This allows it to be easy to work with and is perfect for informal footwear. However, a negative is that suede is a sponge for water and stains making quite a fragile material. On the other hand, it makes it perfect for lounging around footwear.
Finally, we will be discussing nubuck leather. A nubuck leather acts as a middle ground between suede leather and full grain leather. The difference between suede and nubuck is that nubuck leather is made from the grain part of the hide. It is then sanded lightly to produce a similar soft nap but coming from this grain means it is much more resistant and water repllent. This make it great again for deck shoes and boots.