At the fitting: how to spot quality leather in a simple test
When it comes to shoes, as in life in general when looking for quality, you often have to start by knowing how to discard all that is bad. To do this here is an easy and quick test that will let you know right away that you are not dealing with real quality leather, whatever the salesman tells you, who absolutely wants to sell you a pair of shoes.
When you try on your shoes in the store, exaggeratedly articulate your foot by pressing on the tip. This gesture will naturally form a fold in the center of the shoe. This crease is completely normal, even for very good quality leather. What matters are the marks it will leave on the leather when you put your foot back flat?
Start by looking at these brands. On quality leather shoes, they should remain shallow. Then run your finger over the crease. If you feel a slight duplication of matter, it is most likely time to save yourself. You would make a very bad deal by buying this pair of shoes! After a few ports, you will see horrible blisters appear.
These irreversible beads will provide you with the ultimate proof of average or very poor-quality leather.
Nothing beats practice! To train yourself for this type of experience and know-how to effectively recognize quality leather, I strongly advise you to practice at a time when you do not need shoes. Take an hour to wander around the shops, try on shoes you like, compare leathers, see what kind of crease you get on a cheap pair and on a luxury shoe… You won’t feel the pressure of urgency of the purchase. So, when you have to buy a new pair of Oxfords at full speed for a wedding or for an interview, you will not be caught off guard!
Please note: over time, even quality leather ends up developing wrinkles. They’re called ease creases, and they simply come from the effect of your metatarsophalangeal joint on your shoe’s upper. It is even these folds that give all its identity to a real, beautiful quality leather shoe.
For quality leather shoes, pay attention to the type of fitting
A quality leather shoe is also a shoe adapted to your needs. Indeed, it is very important to choose shoes with a type of assembly made for the use you reserve for them.
For example, if you need sturdy shoes to accompany your children on weekend walks, to run through the undergrowth covered with dead leaves and puddles of mud, a pair of shoes with a welded construction could very quickly show its limits. Indeed, this kind of assembly is far too light (and not waterproof enough) for this kind of adventure.
It is therefore important to determine your needs before finding a suitable construction.
Here are some tips, from the lightest to the most robust:
- The welded assembly is reserved for summer shoes with a very thin and non-overhanging sole, never having to withstand bad weather. It will bring unique flexibility and lightness to your shoes.
- We choose the Blake assembly, named after its inventor if we want thin shoes whose sole does not overflow too much. This type of assembly makes it possible to maintain suitable flexibility but will be more resistant. It is preferable to put a “pad” on your soles in Blake assembly, to protect their seam from the start; the latter is in fact made with a single thread.
- Then comes the “Goodyear” assembly, an ancestral assembly mechanized in the 19th century thanks to “Charles Goodyear Jr”. This assembly, much more resistant than the two previous ones, will bring you unfailing satisfaction. Its hidden seam is made using a two-needle machine, which makes it particularly resistant. It incorporates a welt (leather strip) that connects the upper and the outsole, thanks to a second visible seam, called “petit point seam”. This assembly allows a large number of resolings and adapts perfectly to city shoes such as Richelieu, Derby, Brogues, Moccasins, and Boots, fitted with a double or single sole.
- Finally, the Norwegian assembly is the most robust of all. It has the characteristics of the Goodyear assembly, to which is added a final side seam. It binds the wall of the midsole, vamp, and welt to the upper. This assembly is reserved for off-road shoes and boots, those that will accompany you for many years and will always be faithful to you, as long as you give them the necessary care.
- The assembly of shoes is an art of which you can discover many subtleties by consulting our articles: “The Goodyear assembly”, “The Norwegian assembly” as well as “The Blake assembly”.
The finishes of genuine quality leather
Have you already got your hands on a nice pair of leather shoes, of which you have noticed that the leather does not mark too much? Is its assembly adapted to your needs? To be sure it is quality leather, all you have to do is look at it carefully. A beautiful leather can be satin, more or less matte or shiny according to your preferences. But its reflections must always be beautiful and deep and its touch silky.
However, be on your guard: some manufacturers imitate, for example, the appearance of a Goodyear welt, while the shoes they offer are in fact welded. They then offer made-up skins to obtain a very shiny and flattering finish supposed to hide the weakness of the first two points.
Again, there are ways not to be fooled when looking for quality leather. The smoothness of the shoe should be satin, even slightly shiny, but in no case should it dazzle you. To be sure of being in front of quality leather, it is preferable to choose a discreet, but denser finish, of which you can see the different layers of lustrous “deforms”. If the gloss is too present, you are probably dealing with a spray finish with very inexpensive products. Your shoes don’t have to look like a stolen car! We must be able to appreciate the transparency of the materials.
Also, pay attention to the soles of your shoes: they too must have quality leather! Soles are often a good indicator of the overall quality of a pair. If their leather is showing signs of weakness, has no shine, and isn’t silky to the touch, you’re probably not dealing with a genuine quality leather shoe.
The final word by Devilson:
After all these explanations which, we hope, will have shed some light on you, keep in mind that a pair of shoes is a sum of details and elements chosen with patience and respect, according to the use you want to make of it.
But this experience is only acquired through attempts, often punctuated by failures in the early stages. So, even armed with the best advice, it’s a safe bet that you’ll make a few guessing mistakes when you start trying to discern some really good quality shoes in store.