Have you ever owned a pair of leather soled shoes? They are usually reserved for hi-end shoes and many people complain about them.
For one, they can be slippery while walking over concrete and even carpet.
Second, when walking over said concrete, the soles wear out quickly and need a resole in six months – or less.
Third, they can be sort of stiff and uncomfortable until broken in, and they can take a while to break in.
It seems, wouldn’t you think, that higher end shoes ought to be more comfortable as well as last longer than lower-end shoes?
The problem with that is, and I find this in many places, high-end doesn’t necessarily equate to better quality and comfort. High-end shoes may be more expensive simply because of the reputation, the labor involved, the materials used, and the traditional methods employed.
And, most often, shoes that we would consider traditional, were made with leather. That is mostly because vulcanized rubber (flexible rubber) didn’t exist yet. If you made a shoe sole out of wood – it had no flexibility, if you made it of textiles, it had no structure. Leather was the perfect medium of the time, especially if it was layered, or stacked.
The biggest problem with leather is grip and wear, but in the late 1800s or early 1900s most people were walking on dirt, grass or wood. Those surfaces don’t offer too much wear and tear to leather so it made a lot of sense.
Now that I’ve made a great case for rubber soles, why should you want and even prefer shoes made with leather soles in this day and age?
My answer is simple.
Long-term comfort and less wear and tear if made properly.
Shoes with rubber soles may feel comfortable right off the bat when compared to leather soled shoes. However, the rubber has the tendency to feel less and less comfortable over time. In six months they might even feel so bad you need to buy new ones.
Manufacturers have been trying to address this by using memory foam, or neoprene inserts, but so far they are just temporary fixes.
An all-leather sole however, will feel better and better over time because it will begin to mold and compress to the contours of your foot so that it feels well secured, yet cushioned. No one else will be able to comfortably wear your shoes at that point. And the great news is, they will stay just as comfortable for the entire life of the shoes.
So what about wear and tear?
Here at Standard Handmade I have spent a lot of time testing the wear and tear of leather soles. What I have concluded is, since we all mostly walk around on concrete, we need some way to both grip the concrete when we walk as well as protect the leather on our soles.
So what I’ve done is added some rubber caps on the bottoms of the soles to both give you the grip you need to keep from sliding and hurting yourself, as well as protect the wonderfully comfortable leather soles you are training to mold to your feet.
The caps are thin, but just the right thickness that they will not interfere with the comfort of the leather soles, yet offer amazing preservation of the leather soles and all the grip you need for everyday life. They’ll also not hinder the beauty of the leather!
The best part is, I’ve designed the soles such that, when the rubber has worn through (which all rubber does), they can be easily replaced with fresh ones with you having to re-break in your shoes, as a full resole might require.
Simply send them in to me and I will replace them for a nominal fee.
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