Rubber, TPU, TR/TPR and EVA, are just some of the wide variety of shoe sole materials available on the market today, but for hundreds of years one material was king: leather. Prior to the mid-20th century the majority of shoe soles were made out of leather. The earliest shoes made by man often had soles woven from plant materials and even wood but archeologists have found leather sole shoes in what is today Armenia that date back as early as 3500 BC (Derbyshire, 2010). Wood and leather remained the dominant material for creating soles for centuries until the invention and mass manufacturing of petrochemical materials like rubber and EVA changed the way we make shoes (Robinson-Johnson, n.d.).Though rubber and other manmade materials dominate modern shoe sole construction, leather soles remain still remain a popular choice to this day. So what is it about leather soles that have helped them stand the test of time?
Leather is breathable
Because leather is made from cowhide, it contains pores, much like our skin, which helps increase the breathability of your shoe. The differential pressure between the outside and inside of your shoe pushes heat and moisture outward; if your shoe is breathable the heat and moisture can escape. If the material is not breathable the heat and moisture are locked inside with your foot (Jessica Q, 2008). Shoes that contain both leather uppers and outsoles are extremely breathable, keeping your feet cooler and less sweaty. Though rubber and polyurethane materials are great for durability and keeping moisture out, they aren't that great at letting moisture escape.
Leather Soles Can Be Replaced
Many shoes are designed with permanent synthetic soles which are difficult or impossible to replace. Most shoes with leather soles are designed so that the sole can be replaced when it wears down (Robinson-Jones, 2017). This helps you save money and extend the life of shoes, replace the worn down parts rather than replacing the entire shoe An added bonus is that leather soles are biodegradable, unlike synthetic soles which last for years in landfills (Robinson-Jones, 2017).
Are leather soles or synthetic soles right for you?
While some people may like the comfort and convenience of leather soles, others may prefer the enhanced durability and slip-resistant benefits of synthetic soles. At Dardano’s Shoes we can replace your soles with the best of both worlds – a composite sole. Composite soles contain both leather and synthetic materials; leather for breathable comfort and rubber in the places more prone to wear and where traction is needed at the most. Dardano’s Shoe repair uses a wide selection of leather, rubber and composite soles. Check out a list of our sole replacement services for options and pricing on both men’s and women’s shoes.
When is it time to replace your leather soles?
An obvious sign that it is time to replace your leather soles is when holes in the leather layers appear. Before holes begin to appear in the most wear-prone areas test the feel of your soles by poking around the sole. If any area of your sole feels softer or spongier than the rest, it is a good indication that it is time to replace your soles. Also look at the wear on your heels. If the heel is noticeably slanted or sloping to one side, it is time to replace your heel.
Pro Tip: Storing your shoes in shoe trees help absorb moisture in between wears.
Derbyshire, D. (2010, June 10). Is this the world's oldest shoe? 5,000-year-old leather-laced size 4 found in cave in Armenia. Retrieved July 20, 2017, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1285331/Is-world-oldest-shoe-5-000-year-old-leather-laced-boot-cave-Armenia.html
Q, J. (2016, July 18). How Breathable Is Your Shoes? | Chiko Shoes Blog. Retrieved July 20, 2017, from http://www.chikoshoes.com/blog/how-breathable-is-your-shoes/
Robinson-Jones, B. (2017). What Are the Benefits of Leather Soles? Retrieved July 20, 2017, from http://peopleof.oureverydaylife.com/benefits-leather-soles-9396.html