Greetings from the Son of Sandlar workshop and welcome to our blog! Today we will discuss the importance in maintaining leather products. Our most frequently asked questions are typically about proper care for leather and care products. It is amazing how much misinformation is available and so we wanted to give our patrons a clear guide to leather care.
This will be broken down into three postings. The first in the series will focus on the reasons for care. The second will discuss different types of care products. The final installment will be more instructional on how to properly use the products and some dos and don’ts.
Why treat your leather?
Don’t let this happen to your boots.
This sounds like a silly question. You would be utterly awed by how many patrons I meet who simply don’t know or want to care for their leathers. They don’t understand how a little bit of care can add so much to their comfort and the lifespan of their investment. Neglected leather will start to shrink, crack and start to pull away from the sole. It will harden and be less comfortable to wear. Dried out leather is impossible to re-sole.
Why should you treat your leather? To answer the question I will take some time to discuss our materials. We use premium aniline finished chrome tanned bull hides in our production. The chromium tanning process implements modern chemistry to infuse leather with moisturizers and preservatives. The aniline dye process insures a completely dye through leather with open pores. The finish does not have a top layer paint and leaves the pores exposed for a more natural finish and most importantly breathability of the hide. A breathable hide will stretch and mold better as well as constantly adapt to temperature and humidity changes. These hides are custom ordered to our specifications and represent a quality that is unseen in the commercial marketplace. We pay a premium to obtain this quality leather. You pay for this quality when you joined our family of patrons. You should take care of it to preserve its wonderful elements to have long lasting comfortable footwear.
A quality aniline finished chromium tanned bull hide has a 30 – 50 year lifetime if properly cared for and treated. There are even some that suggest that a hide of this quality could reach a 100 year lifespan. This is under optimal conditions, which obviously do not exist for footwear. Constant contact with the ground and real world conditions will diminish the lifespan of the hide and make it closer to 30 years. Without proper treatment, these hides will start to deteriorate after 5-10 years.
Arik’s 15 year old boots. Freshly cleaned, oiled and weatherproofed.
Proper care for leather is essential to get the maximum lifespan from the hides. Leather is a natural material – a skin – a skin removed from its natural body. The body which kept it clean and moisturized is gone. We need to emulate its natural state and keep it clean and conditioned so it can continue to provide the comfort and durability that we demand of it. Without cleaning and conditioning there are many factors that can deteriorate leather: sweat from our bodies, dry conditions, wet conditions, biological materials on the ground living in the dirt and mud, sun, mold and anything that would be harmful to your own skin. These issues can all be minimized by proper treatment.
A well-treated hide will offer the highest level of comfort and durability throughout the years. There is nothing like an old pair of shoes to slip into. Imagine if you could make those shoes feel the same over and over again for a lifetime.
Preview for Part II
There are many care products on the market and the key to making wise decisions it to become an informed consumer. The next installment will discuss care products and their ingredients and what makes good products for our leather. We have spent some time researching care products and have a full offering in our Shop.