Leather and Background

We use premium leathers from world-renowned tanneries including hides from free-range, grass-fed cattle. All of our leathers are tanned in their most natural state from tanneries such as Horween, S.B. Foot, Seidel and C.F. Stead.

We don't have our hides sanded down, over-dyed or overly processed to cover up leather imperfections. It is our belief that the best leathers are left in their natural state, then tanned by the tannery and cut at the factory. This process as well as incorporating the 200 manual steps in making a single boot, help to make the perfectly imperfect pair.

Our Cutting Process

Leather hides may have some scars and imperfections as well as coloring which may not be perfectly consistent from inch to inch. Leather is an organic material and due to this, these characteristics may be present. Our cutting priority is the vamps/toeboxes of the pattern first. We try to ensure this part gets the cleanest-cut part of the hide. From there we prioritize the quarters and heel. While we monitor these natural imperfections on every hide, there will be subtle, yet tasteful instances of these which may come up and these are considered part of the boots' overall character for two reasons:

1. Because they represent a story and the environment from which the leather came.

2. Parts of the upper pattern may be too large or too small on any boot size pattern to avoid cutting into an area which may be scarred or have an imperfection, or a group of imperfections. For instance, a quarter panel's pattern size may be so large as compared to the available cutting space on the hide with reduced or no imperfections, that it is sometimes impossible to cut the quarter panel pattern portion without grabbing some of the area which is scarred. In this case we do our best to limit exposure and if completely unavoidable, areas are matched from boot to boot as best as they can be. The only other option in this case is to discard an entire leather hide or most of and cut into a new hide to make a single pair of boots. We see this done in other factories and with other brands, however we don't believe is discarding and ultimately wasting an entire leather hide in order to get the perfect pair of boot uppers.

Rather than discarding these beautiful pieces of leather, we believe in using them in a tasteful way to create great footwear that will last and appear consistent given what comes in from the tannery and given the nature of the natural process this is.

Characteristics

Chromexcel - soft, smooth supple leather tanned with oils and waxes. This leather will have much pull-up to it and exhibit many natural characteristics as a result of the environment from which it came. As soon as it's tried on, you can typically see the character and variations come through to the surface. Some of the variations may include veining and grain and are characteristic of this style of leather. Some CXL is known to have loose grain, we cut around this and it is not incorporated into our boots or shoes. Should we have a pair with loose grain, it will be priced with this in mind and placed into the Sample + Seconds section of the website.

Dublin - soft, smooth veg tan leather which can be a bit stiff initially. This leather is a rugged side leather which has much character to it along with natural variations, scars and pull-up. As soon as it's tried on, you can typically see the character and variations come through to the surface. Some of the variations may include veining and grain and are characteristic of this style of leather. The color of Dublin can vary from pair to pair depending on what area of the hide is cut to make the pair. Some may be slighter, others may be slightly darker.

Kudu - genuine antelope leather from Southern and Eastern Africa. Very soft, supple and conforming. The backside is finished with a suede. Expect this leather to have scars and conform to your foot quite rapidly.

Waxy Commander - a shrunken fiber, tight grain heavily waxed suede. A traditional waxed flesh provides wax just on the surface. This article is waxed both on the surface and in the tannage to provide a double barrier protection from the elements. This leather can be re-waxed and we can do it for you.

Rough-out - a tighter grain, longer nap leather which is often quite thick and is the reverse side of the hide.

Oil Tans - leathers which have been tanned with mainly oils and a high concentration of them as opposed to waxes. Oil tan brings out the natural imperfections in leather. Like with any of the aforementioned leathers, it can be lighter or darker depending on what area of the hide the leather is cut from and how the hide comes in from the tannery.

Vegetable Tans - leathers tanned with plant oils as well as different types of tree bark oils.

Care and Conditioning

Leather should be treated like your skin - use the most natural form of conditioner or balm and be careful not to use too many synthetics or anything with dyes or perfumes. Note that any application of a balm, creme or wax will most likely darken your leather. We recommend using Smith's Leather Balm for all models we offer excluding suede, rough-out and nubuk. For these, it is recommended to clean with a horsehair or soft-bristled brush first and/or apply a waterproof spray to protect the leather depending on your personal order preference.

 

Due to the leathers we use, our footwear does not need to be conditioned right out of the box but we understand this is subject to personal preference. Some of the brands/items we recommend using are listed below:

Oregon Trail Co. Boot Wax
Smith's Leather Balm
Nikwax
Blackrock Leather N' Rich
Almond Oil
Beeswax
Mink oil - stay away from "blends" if possible as they often contain petroleum
KIWI waterproofing spray - mainly for suede's and nubuk's
 

Best conditioner for each leather based on our findings (subject to personal preference):

Chromexcel and Double Shot - Any of the above, plus click here for a more in depth guide to care from Stridewise.
Dublin - Any type of boot wax, however note this leather is mainly sought after for its patina which means it's not recommended to apply conditioner too soon or immediately to this leather as it will change the color of the patina which develops.
Kudu - Smith's Leather Balm, Oregon Trail Co. Boot Wax or any all natural applicant or wax. A nubuk or waterproofing spray can also be used. 
Waxed Commander - Any boot wax.
Moose/Elk - Smith's Leather Balm, Oregon Trail Co. Boot Wax or any all natural applicant or wax. A nubuk or waterproofing spray can also be used.
Horsehides/Butts - Smith's Leather Balm or Oregon Trail Co. Boot Wax.
Vegetable tanned leathers (ex. Dublin, Essex) - Smith's Leather Balm - but don't use immediately if you're looking for patina.
Rough-out/Suedes - spot clean with damp rag, brush and/or apply waterproofing spray if desired.
Mohawk/Rambler - spot clean, brush then apply waterproofing spray. 
 
*Note lighter colored leathers including but not limited to Natural CXL or Natural Dublin's for example, will not require conditioning out of the box. Due to their lighter color, an immediate application will darken the leather and change the color. It is recommended that they be worn for a few months first and assess if you need to condition them at that time. As far as leather coloring goes, leather is an organic material and is not perfectly consistent throughout every inch of the hide in color or texture. Therefore it is possible that leather may not perfectly match what is shown on the website from boot to boot due to it being an organic material along with studio lighting and photography.