There are essentially two types leather used in the uppers of Sanders and Loakes shoes: side leathers and calf leathers. The former are from a mature animal whereas the latter, as its name suggest, are from a younger animal.
Side leathers tend to be corrected grain leathers. The hide of a mature animal can be surprisingly thick and, once the leather has been fully tanned, can be split to produce two or more separate hides. These hides are invariably sanded and scraped to produce a ‘corrected’ grain hide which can be very smooth. This may be necessary to remove the scars and blemishes which may have occurred to the animal’s hide throughout its longer life. The resulting hide can be really quite smooth, with all the natural pores in the leather removed, which enables a fairly high shine to be obtained on the leather. This is a definite benefit as certain shoes with a fairly high shine from new are often preferred. However the hide remains that of an older animal and can be quite stiff. Therefore when the shoe is worn one tends to get a few pronounced creases where the shoe flexes as one walks. Eventually, as the wear is concentrated in these few creases, the leather will fail at these crease points. However, so long as the leather is regularly fed with a good quality wax polish or shoe cream, this ‘split’ in the leather shouldn’t occur for many years. Side leathers are found predominantly in Loakes shoes: Shoemakers, L1, and Lifestyle collections.
Calf leathers on the other hand, coming from a younger animal, are thinner and far more supple than side leathers. Because they are thinner they don’t tend to be split to produce extra hides. The calf leathers used by Sanders shoes and Loake shoes tend to be a full grain leather which means that it is the outer leather which is used and this will exhibit the natural pores and grain of the leather. The downside is that such leathers do need a bit of polishing to get a better shine, although most of the work is done for you at the factory. However the resultant shoe will last far longer than that made from side leathers and looked after should never fail. Calf leathers are found predominantly in Loakes shoes: 1880 and Evolution collections.
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