Leathers used for the uppers of good quality shoes are graded according to a number of factors and the variety and cost implications are enormous. However as far as Loake leather is concerned when purchasing their shoes there are essentially just two types of upper leather used. They are either a polished side leather from a mature hide which has been corrected to produce a very flat, shiny and flawless leather or a full grain calf leather from a young hide.
Side leathers are cheaper but do provide an instantly shiny leather. They are a little stiffer than full grain calf leathers and as a result will, after many years of wear, eventually begin to weaken where the shoe creases. Calf leathers by contrast are much more supple and will therefore last much longer. However all leathers will benefit from being fed regularly with a good quality wax or cream polish in order to avoid the leather fibres from drying out and then breaking down.
Another thing to look at carefully when selecting your next shoe purchase is the lining. It’s always best to have a fully leather lined shoe rather than one that might have a canvas vamp lining perhaps. Loake shoes tend to be fully leather lined but a good quality thick calf leather lining will inevitable help the shoes longevity rather than a thin leather lining which will wear through quicker. Once the leather lining has worn through around the shoe’s forepart perspiration and constant rubbing and creasing will start to weaken the outer leather itself.
Whether they are made in Loake’s factory in India or their factory in Northamptonshire all Loake leather for their uppers is sourced from European tanneries.