Hello, friend. Welcome to my channel.
I’m Phu, founder of Aventail.
In today’s video, I’ll introduce you to the basics of leather shoe.
If you are a leather shoe expert, this video is not for you. However, if you are totally new to this great new world, stay tuned.
- Why leather shoes
Every once in a while, you will attend a formal event, either wedding, funeral or a presentation. Or if you have an office job, in that case you need to wear semi-formal clothes. In western formality system, that means you need to wear leather shoes, end of story. Other than that, it’s is a good idea to wear leather shoes casually as well. Leather shoes give a signal that you are mature and responsible, and know the value of traditions. Leather boots on the other hand signal that you have an adventurous life style, ready to live outside the rule, and some girls definitely like that. Either way, leather shoes bring out the spark, the flare of your outfit, make it completed.
- Leather type
The cheapest type of leather is just fake leather or split leather with a plastic coating. This type is sadly the most common type of leather for shoes. Better than that is suede, which is split leather with uncovered surface. It has a rustic, raw, unique look, but doesn’t work well in wet weather. The best leather is the full grain or top grain leather, which is the surface layer of the animal hide. Depend on the thickness of the coating, we have aniline, semi aniline, patent leather. The thicker the coating layer, the more weather resistant the leather is, but it looks less natural and more plastic. The rule of thumb is just buying the best leather you can afford and take care of it, you will enjoy your shoe more.
- Shoe color
The most formal shoe color is black, then dark brown. After that, every other color is considered casual. For your first leather shoe, consider dark brown first, then tan or white, you will get the most milestone out of those colors. If you attend a lot of formal occasions, a black shoe should be high on your acquisition list as well. If you can afford a larger shoes collection, consider patina shoe, shoe with more than one color, shoe with nonstandard color like blue, green, red, orange… as well. Your shoe has less than 5% total surface area of your outfit, but usually is the first item to get noticed and complimented. It would be wise to invest in a good-looking shoe.
- Soles construction
Shoe sole can be glued, heat pressed or stitched to the upper part. Glue and heat press are cheaper, more flexible type of sole construction, but less durable then stitched construction. Glue or heat press soles are typically found in sport speaker, military, outdoor shoes, or just cheap shoes. These sole construction types are cheap and flexible, but not durable. For stitched sole, the most common types are goodyear welt, Blake stitch, and cup sole. Goodyear welt and Blake stitch are typically found in traditional leather shoes, which can be resole and reused over and over for many years of use. Cup sole is typically found in good quality leather sneaker, also durable, but this sole type is usually not to be resoled. For the best bang for your buck, you should stick with stitched sole shoes like goodyear welt, Blake stitch and cup sole.
- Shoe types and formality
Shoe type formality is simple: the less details the shoe has, the plainer the leather is, the more formal the shoe is. In order of formality, we have as follow: opera pump, wholecut shoe, oxford shoe, derby shoe, monkstrap shoe, loafer, Chelsea boot, any type of brogue shoe, boat shoe, and leather sneakers. That’s said, with the casualization of men’s wear, you can wear most leather shoe types in business casual and casual settings, as long as it’s not too formal. So, take a look of all those shoes, and think about what your dream shoe look like. The sky is not your limit.
- Shoe horn and quick lacing technique
Leather shoe are typically closer fit then sneaker, if you have never worn them before, it’ll take some times to get used to. Because of the close fit, it’s hard to put on shoe by hand, and you need a tool called shoe horn to help you put on shoe. You use shoe horn by putting it on your heel and slide your feet in, like this. As such, you should carry a shoe horn in your EDC if you use leather shoe regularly. Alternatively, you can use this technique of quick lacing to put on shoe without shoe horn. I’ll introduce this lacing technique in another video.
- Shoe rotation
Because the leather shoe soaks up the sweat from your foot, it’s a good idea to let it rest and dry after a long day of use to extend shoe life. If you wear leather shoe daily, you should have at least 2 shoes to rotate. You have one shoe to wear and one to rest. If you live in an area that rains often, it’s better to have 3-5 shoes to rotate, because the shoe is wetter. In short, the more shoe you have on rotation, the longer those shoes last.
- Shoe anti wrinkles
As you walk in your leather shoe, the shoe with strain and stretch, which leads to wrinkle. There are many techniques to reduce shoe wrinkle, and my favorite is using shoe tree. That is the simplest, least effort way to reduce the shoe wrinkle. But not matter how well your take care of your shoe, it will always wrinkle, and you should accept it as an innate beauty of leather, and a part of its charm.
- Fake leather care
If your shoe is made of fake leather ie plastic, the best think you can do is clean it regularly and keep it in a cool and dry place. The plastic that is used for fake leather is less durable then the plastic used in raw fiber form, like nylon. Overtime, the fake leather plastic will fatigue and crack, there’s nothing you can do about that but through it away.
- Suede leather care
Suede leather is one of more fragile leather types. It’s dry and not water resistant. You shouldn’t wear suede shoe in rainy season or winter. If you have water on your shoe, you should use paper to soak up most of the water, then let it air dry. Maintenance routines include brushing the shoe after use, and spray the shoe with suede leather water repellant once per month. Suede eraser could be useful for shallow stain, and should be used as soon as the leather is dirty. Eventually, suede leather will crack because it doesn’t have oil and fat to wet it. But while it last, it’ll serve you well.
- Smooth leather care
Smooth leather in the market is available in different tanning process and the animal the hide came from. If you have waxed leather, which is a chrome tanned leather that is soaked in oil and wax, maintenance can be as simple as regularly brushing the shoe. If you have vegetable tanned leather or non-waxed chrome tanned leather, maintenance has 3 parts: keeping the shoe clean, wet, and waxed. Keeping the shoe clean means brushing the shoe or wiping it with a wet towel, my favorite is the later because it cleans better. Wetting leather means occasionally you apply leather oil to your shoe, either once a month or longer, depending on where you live. Waxing leather means just that, applying wax to leather. This step is only for aesthetic, it depends on if you want a polished shoe, semi-polished shoe, or totally mate shoe. I’ll go into details for smooth leather care in another video.
- Patent leather care
This is the easiest type of leather to care for. All you have to do is clean it and keep the shoe in a cool and dry place. It should last you a long time. But patent leather is hard to repair. Minor scratch can be polished and your shoe will look like new. But if your shoe has a significant scratch, you should bring it to a cobbler. So, it’s an all or nothing type of leather.
After this video, I hope you have an overview of leather shoe and know where to start with it.
And do you know what is good with your leather shoe? Aventail belt!
Aventail belt is a premium holeless size adjustable belt, available in dozens of colors.
You can check out our shop and belt in the link in the description below.
Have a nice day and see you in the next video!