When buying shoes it’s important to be able to differentiate between the two types of leather, side leather and calf leather, used in men’s shoes and boots from the traditional shoemakers of Loakes, Sanders, Barker and Trickers and each offer their own benefits:
Side leather with a corrected grain is from the hide of a mature animal. Of course there are numerous different grades but essentially these are relatively stiff leathers with a smooth uniform finish which allows for a high shine. The downside is that because the leather is fairly stiff it tends to lead to more pronounced creasing.
Calf leather, as its name suggests, is from a younger animal and is much more supple and flexible. Therefore without the pronounced creasing of a stiffer leather calf leather will tend to last rather longer before the upper leather fails due to the weakening effect of continuous creasing. The downside of calf leathers is that they tend not to have that high shine straight from the box and therefore a little elbow grease is often required to get a good shine.
With a starting price of £345 Trickers only use the very finest grade of calf leather in all their shoes. Loakes, Barker and Sanders will use both calf and side leathers but use only the best grades of both. All their shoes are designed to last many years and be fully repairable again and again.