Most high quality shoes sold today are still made of leather just as they have been for centuries. Leather is still the material of choice for its durability and flexibility. Some leathers are more desirable than others and in this article we will go over some of the qualities of different leathers and how they are used.
Believe it or not pigskin leather, the same as that used in making footballs, is also highly utilized as leather used in the manufacture of quality footwear. The recent development of machines that can produce enough pigskin in proper condition to be chrome tanned has allowed this type of leather to become more popular. Another aspect of pigskin is that it readily accepts dyes which allows for it to be produced in the wide variety of colors needed in women's shoes in particular.
Another popular type of leather used in the making of quality footwear is calfskin which comes from young cattle usually younger than four weeks old. This type of leather is used almost exclusively in higher quality men's and women's dress shoes and can be more than twice as expensive as regular side leather.
Full grain side leather which is used to make the uppers for shoes is one of the most versatile of all leathers as well as being the most common. This type of leather is very durable and malleable while possessing the other desired characteristics of leather such as breathability.
A popular leather that falls between calfskin and side leather in cost is kidskin which comes from young goats. This type of leather is generally used for better quality women's shoes. A common type of kidskin leather is that which we know as suede which is created by using different chemical and natural treatments.
A type of leather that has become very popular in recent years along with the popularity of cowboy boots for men and women is that of the exotics such as Crocodile, Ostrich, Shark, and Lizard. Crocodile leather comes from animals legally farmed in The South Pacific and also in South Africa. Ostrich also comes from farm raised animals and are generally soft and very easy to shape. The leather from sharks is an extremely resistant and resilient.
Every year it seems like shoe manufacturers come out with new materials to make shoes from including simulated leathers, rubber, and even plastic but it is a safe bet that leather will continue to dominate the designer shoe market for some time.