Suede, Slush, and Chamois

Posted by: on Nov 28, 2011 | One Comment

Suede shoes tend to be the favorites of stylish men.  Something about the soft texture, rich colors, and easy to care for quality of the material attracts sartorially-minded men like bees to honey.  But this time of year, as things get cold and wet, it demands a little more attention than usual.  Most of the time, sticking your suede hooves on trees, giving them a good brush, and sticking them in bags is all they demand.  Of course you want well-fitted cedar trees, a brush with soft bristles that won’t damage the nap, and bags that breathe and let out moisture, but none of that is too tough.  You don’t need to polish them and scuffs tend to brush right out.  It’s almost too easy really.

As the weather starts to get slushy though, those chocolate suede loafers and snuff split toes start to look a lot more delicate than they did when the sun was shining.  If you’re talking about chukkas/desert boots or rough-and-tumble brogues, don’t worry any more.  They’ll be fine.  A little suede patina never hurt anyone when it comes to casual footwear.

Some people swear by sprays and protectants like Collonil, and I’ve had good results with the Johnston and Murphy spray for Nubuck, but it’s not really the best solution.  Suede isn’t optimal for wet weather, and coating it in a plastic/polymer based chemical destroys some of the leather’s best qualities while fixing its flaws.  The shoes won’t breathe the same way, and if they do get really soaked you’ll have a harder time drying them out.  Just wash them if it gets really bad.  Yes, I said wash them.  Check it out here.

I prefer to keep the suede brogue boots in good Fall rotation and for days when I’m not traipsing through snow or puddles.  No reason to be purposefully destructive.  But when I want textural interest without the danger, Chamois is by far my favorite.  Though not all makers stick to the real stuff these days, Chamois is the flesh split of sheepskin or goatskin – the flesh split is what you’re left with after removing the grained portion from the hide.  The result is a really tough, porous piece of leather that undergoes an intense oil-tanning process.  As a result, you get a waxy piece of leather with natural color variations and an almost sealed finish.  Pretty much the perfect solution, right?

Leffot has had two pieces recently that caught my attention in this direction.  The first is a traditional chamois longwing from Alden.  You can really see in the pictures on their website the natural color variations and tough as nails texture.  Not an “elegant” shoe per se, but handsome and practical as can be.

More exciting for me though is the reverse chamois boot Steven has done with the folks from Alden.  I’ve never seen reverse chamois before and the stuff is amazing.  It’s like the best worn in suede you can imagine but also nearly waterproof.  These brogue boots with some grey flannels and a tweed coat is making me wish for wetter days.

All Photos Courtesy of Leffot

1 Comment

  1. Benn
    November 28, 2011

    I agree. That reverse Chamois is pretty fantastic


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