Inspired by a conversion with Toseland (the cobbler) I decided to give leather soled shoes another try.
The weather we’ve been having (four seasons in a day) hasn’t been the best time to start.
And leather soled shoes aren’t cheap, but I bought some on sale from Europe.
And convinced the local Melbourne weather wasn’t going to get any better, started wearing them.
Breaking them in
As Toseland warned, the leather soles did feel stiff and clumpy at first. But, I wore them around the house until they softened a little. I wouldn’t say it was any worse than breaking in synthetic solced shoes.
They were also quite slippery, so I followed Oliver Sweeny’s advice. And wore them outside on dry days to build up some grit. This helps with road grip and gives the sole some protection from wet roads.
Obviosuly, jumping in puddles is and entirely different think to everyday dashing about between meetings.
And this is the point where it suddenly made sense to me.
It’s all in the retailer
When I was younger (and presumably more gullible), a retailer told me leather soles couldn’t stand up to Australian conditions. They needed the protection of synthetic solves.
But shoes have had leather soles for hundreds of years!. And RM Williams, the iconic Australian stockman’s brand still makes them.
So I think that long ago retailer must have dabbled in resoling shoes on the side. Or been a little bit uneducated about the shoes they were selling.
Sven Raphael Sneider shared this wonderful 1930s silent movie (with dramatic orchestral accompaniment) about manufacturing leather soled shoes which helps explain it. If you’re squeamish you might like to sit on your hands.
The Last Word
As it turns out, I find leather soles more comfortable than synthetics.
My feet have always fallen on the moist side of the divide, and I find leather soles breathe more. And because they breath, I sweat less, and they’re more comfortable.
And they smell… let’s say less aromatic…
I expect part of the cost of leather soles relates to the higher cost of leather overall, but also the extra hand component of leather shoes. (Though I would image leather soles could go through an automated process as well as synthetics).
Possibly due to the cost, there’s more of an inclination to take care of them too.
I’m inclined to get another pair, or two.
But not right now.
Do you have any leather soled shoes? What’s your opinion?