Author Topic: Please explain leather to me.  (Read 6365 times)

Adventine

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Please explain leather to me.
« on: July 18, 2017, 10:11:29 PM »
There's been a huge spike in local businesses (both online and brick-and-mortar) selling leather goods lately (bags, shoes, wallets, etc.).

Not being very interested in shopping myself, I have a hard time understanding why people pay a premium for leather goods. I've never owned any genuine leather products myself, and I'm wary of shelling out a giant wad of cash for something that I feel wouldn't survive very long after being exposed to the hot tropical climate where I live (almost always humid, either extremely sunny or rainy).

My questions are:

Why are leather goods so expensive?
Are they really that more durable? As opposed to what?
How much time and effort does it take to maintain leather?
Will leather disintegrate after being regularly exposed to the outdoors (city in the tropics)?
Are leather goods worth it, from a Mustachian point of view?

shelivesthedream

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2017, 01:30:14 AM »
My experience with leather as opposed to other goods is that the great thing about leather is that it is possible to maintain it. There's just not much you can do about fabric shoes that get scuffed, but you can polish and nourish leather. More expensive leather shoes are made to be resoled. It's like buying a car where you can do oil changes vs one where you just can't. Doesn't mean it will never break down, but you can take are of it so it will last longer. So yes, I would say it's worth it if you're into BIFL, not if you're into many charity shop purchases. But be aware that there's genuine leather and "genuine leather". Check for usual markers of quality like good stitching.

As for time and effort, I polish my good shoes maybe once a month. Maybe once a year I remember to put cream on my good bag. I am lazy.

No idea about the tropics.

Dave1442397

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2017, 09:42:33 AM »
I like leather jackets and wallets, and while the jackets spend the hotter months in the closet, my wallet is in constant use. I'm careful about what kind of leather and craftsmanship goes into a wallet, and my first one lasted fifteen years or so. I bought the next one from Saddleback Leather, and it may be TOO good - I think it'll outlast me, but it hasn't softened up much over the years.

Bonded leather is generally crap and will disintegrate quickly, especially in the tropics.

Here's a guide to different types of leather - http://bestleather.org/leather-101-the-different-types-of-leather/
 

ketchup

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2017, 09:55:57 AM »
My $10-from-Target leather wallet is about 14 years old (bought when I was in 8th grade), and I've done nothing but abuse it over that time.  It's fine.  Not great, but fine.

My 2001 car has leather seats and they're in shockingly good shape.  I got rid of a 1992 car last year with leather seats that were also in great shape.

I had a nice leather couch two houses ago that was destroyed a few weeks after purchase due to a an idiot's idiot dog with unmaintained nails.

It varies.

patchyfacialhair

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2017, 10:02:45 AM »
I buy only leather shoes for work (casual dress shoes/boots), because they last a LONG time with care. I work in an office, and am on my second pair of casual shoes ever (first pair lasted 8 years or so). An $80 purchase, while steep, works out to almost nothing when you view it on a per-use basis.

I also have a leather wallet, but my wife gifted me it.

Other than that, I try to avoid leather. I'm not rough on things so things like leather car upholstery and leather furniture is an extra expense that I won't pay.

PoutineLover

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2017, 10:17:10 AM »
I have a beautiful vintage sueded calf wallet that has been holding up really well for the past several years and probably got a lot of use before I found it. I also really like my leather boots, if they are cared for properly they last a long time but salt is killer. I'd also love to have a leather jacket one day, but I'm waiting til I can afford to splurge on the perfect one, or come across one that is just right at a vintage store. I think leather products are nicer than fake leather, but there are lots of other materials that look nice too, so it's just a matter of preference and if you can justify the cost based on how much use you think you'll get out of it. My parents bought leather couches but the cats have scratched them so I wouldn't buy nice furniture like that with pets unless they are really well trained.

Cowardly Toaster

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2017, 10:29:09 AM »
Leather isn't great for everything, but all of my shoes are leather now. Buy a pair of new leather shoes that feel about 1 size too small, wear a week, and they mold perfectly to your feet like second skin. And yes, they can be repaired by a local cobbler, and freshened up with leather products. Plus, leather tends to look better as it ages., taking on new color and character where other materials just wear out.

I knew of a hippie chick who wore a native American style dress made of deer hide, supposedly incredibly comfortable. I'd totally wear deer skin breeches if I could :)

Also have a belt from a local craftsman that promises to last many years, good leather belts are difficult to find commercially (it pays to know a bit about leather, good leather goods will be fairly thick)

Other than that I don't use leather much except for sheaths and holsters, I will say it should be avoided for extended outdoors applications except shoes (and shoes as well in below freezing conditions) because it tends to attract moisture.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2017, 03:47:40 PM »
Yes, leather is awesome.  I wouldn't pay for fashionable leather, but for durable quality leather at a reasonable price, absolutely.  I don't have a lot of leather goods, but the ones I do have are awesome.

- wallet I got when I was 15 (22 years ago).  It's not in like-new condition anymore, but I've also never done crap to take care of it.  Bastard just won't die.  As it, I'm impatiently waiting for it to.  For the past 10 years.
- belt I got for $7 in a Texas dollar store 15-20 years ago.  other than scuffs on the back where the little clasp thing scrapes across as it goes in the hole, it's like new.  this is my only belt, so it's been worn every day since i got it.
- hiking/work/motorcycle riding boots about 10 years old.  These are my daily use default footwear, I oil them as much as I can.  I've had them resoled once and some broken stitching fixed once.  Any other normal pair of shoes/boots I would wear as often and as hard as I do these would last about 2 years tops (from experience).   they are also the most comfortable shoes i've ever owned and I fear the day I have to give them up.

Pigeon

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2017, 05:12:10 PM »
I find leather shoes last much longer and are more comfortable than plastic or fabric shoes.  They don't take a  great deal of maintenance, but with a touch of polish and a little buffing they are almost like new.

Rosy

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2017, 05:32:59 PM »
If you ever owned a fine lambskin leather jacket you know there is no going back, smooth, lasts a lifetime, feels wonderful. Not super bulky or heavy either, just substantial.
Leather responds well to the oils in your skin and it will look fabulous if you regularly treat it with leather cleaner/polish.

The crap that sells as leather here in Florida for instance is god knows what, it's too hot and a good leather imitation that is light weight is a much better choice if you don't want to lay out the cash for the real thing. Same as Manila, hot and humid - still, the humidity or any other weather does not hurt lambskin.

My leather bag from Italy is a lifetime investment, looks pretty much the way it did when I bought it, 20 years ago. The crap "real leather" bag I bought off the Home Shopping Channel is not faring quite as well since the manufacturing itself (although the leather itself is fine) was done on the cheap.
All my shoes are either good quality leather or flip flops. If it is quality leather it will not wear out as long as you use leather cream and clean them regularly.

The one thing you can never expose your leather boots and shoes to is snow or water that may have salt or chemicals in it. It will leave a white ring and make the leather very hard and set in wrinkles.

Capt j-rod

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2017, 05:51:21 PM »
Like anything there are durable goods and then there are designer items. Very rarely do they cross over. Leather is an amazing material. I play around with leather work and make holsters and knife sheaths. Leather belts are great if you get a good one. Leather boots are more durable and can be repaired. I also try to buy wool items as well. The right garment, shoe or belt will outlive the owners if taken care of. As far as a thin leather designer anything? I'll pass.

pbkmaine

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2017, 07:03:46 PM »
I have a few Coach bags that are more than 20 years old, from the era when they were made of the same leather as baseball gloves. They soften with time and get a lovely patina. The only thing you need to do is use a leather conditioner on them once a year or so.

deborah

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2017, 07:20:28 PM »
Why are leather goods so expensive?

To make leather you have to kill the animal - and animals are more expensive to grow than plants (in general). Compare the price of meat with vegetables. And something made from fibres can be much lighter, so the same weight of fibre is going to make a lot more things.

Are they really that more durable? Generally speaking, yes - although very expensive types of leather (because they tend to be very thin) can be a lot less durable. And it depends on the application. Because leather is one piece of stuff (like paper), it can be cut more easily than woven fabric of similar weight. On the other hand, it doesn't wear as easily (for the same reasons), and it has no holes, so it can be good for holding powders and other things that move through woven containers.

Will leather disintegrate after being regularly exposed to the outdoors (city in the tropics)? Yes - moisture is a problem with leather, so the hot humid days you have in the wet season make it much less durable. It needs to be oiled often in such climates, and even then doesn't last all that long. However, in cooler climates, leather is long lasting.

Are leather goods worth it, from a Mustachian point of view? It depends on where you live, and what it is used for.

Mr. Green

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2017, 06:11:25 AM »
Any quality leather product that is taken care of will outlast a human.

Dee18

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2017, 06:51:18 AM »
I have a leather sofa because it is less allergenic than any fabric sofa I have found.  I have leather car seats for the same reason. 

Frankies Girl

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2017, 07:56:09 AM »
Something I learned recently: anything stamped or advertised as "genuine leather" is not something to be happy about. The term is actually a type of grading, and the "genuine" grade is the poorest quality you can get and still be considered actual leather.

Adventine

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2017, 05:53:26 PM »
Hmmm, thanks for the tips, all. My conclusion is, since I don't need to look especially formal at work and I live in a country where leather is probably going to degrade faster than expected, I should only buy myself leather goods if I can get the high quality stuff at a huge discount. I'm going to a garage sale in a really expensive part of town tomorrow, so hopefully I score some good deals!

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #17 on: July 20, 2017, 06:43:22 PM »
Hmmm, thanks for the tips, all. My conclusion is, since I don't need to look especially formal at work and I live in a country where leather is probably going to degrade faster than expected, I should only buy myself leather goods if I can get the high quality stuff at a huge discount. I'm going to a garage sale in a really expensive part of town tomorrow, so hopefully I score some good deals!

Expensive part of town isn't where I'd expect to find good leather.  More like a farm house garage sale.

Adventine

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #18 on: July 20, 2017, 09:44:34 PM »
Except the expensive part of town is 30 minutes away from where I live by a single bus ride, compared to the closest farm areas which are about 3 hours away by multiple buses.

I'm thinking I'll have a better chance of getting good deals on stuff that well-off people want to get rid of.

triangle

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2017, 01:59:57 AM »
Here in USA I believe leather has some nostalgia with the past when many goods were made from leather as well as a deserved reputation for durability. A pair of full grain leather shoes which can be resoled can last well over 10 years if worn in rotation with other shoe(s). A similar quality leather satchel or belt will last even longer, while slowly developing a (desirable) patina from the years of wear. But leather is not suitable for frequent exposure to rain as it should thoroughly dry out before reusing and can be heavy to carry in comparison to other materials. If I were in Manila or any city where I had to walk a lot or take public transportation I would personally rather carry a Nylon satchel/bag rather than one made from leather. Since it will be lighter weight, more water proof, and usually has more organizing pockets.

Leather needs to be oiled as it drys out but it does not require much maintenance unless it gets wet. Again I believe the biggest benefit is the traditional and natural look of leather. In comparison to the bright colored nylon one might otherwise see. And since it is a more expensive material it projects wealth in comparison to a cotton or nylon made substitute.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 02:01:35 AM by triangle »

shelivesthedream

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #20 on: July 21, 2017, 03:22:01 AM »
It's also compostable :)

Adventine

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #21 on: July 21, 2017, 03:27:54 AM »
But leather is not suitable for frequent exposure to rain as it should thoroughly dry out before reusing and can be heavy to carry in comparison to other materials. If I were in Manila or any city where I had to walk a lot or take public transportation I would personally rather carry a Nylon satchel/bag rather than one made from leather. Since it will be lighter weight, more water proof, and usually has more organizing pockets.

Nylon (and sometimes waxed canvas) is in fact the most cost-effective option I've found for commuting in both monsoon rain and 37C sunny days.

chasesfish

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2017, 05:53:26 AM »
I have to wear black dress shoes to work.

I find a particular brand that's fairly expensive to have the lowest cost per wear, I have pairs of shoes I've had for 13-14 years.  They can be cared for and resoled when needed.  I've had some cheaper and non-leather pairs and they don't last as long

TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: Please explain leather to me.
« Reply #23 on: July 21, 2017, 08:11:27 AM »
I like the smell of leather.  Even a very old leather couch still has its own natural smell that I find pleasant or at least inoffensive.  Old fabric couches often stink.