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The materials used to line leather shoes are as important (or more important) than the materials used to construct the uppers. Premium shoes will use higher quality linings that are more comfortable and more durable. You can feel the difference the second you slip on a pair of shoes lined in luxurious leather.
Textile linings like fabric and cloth are commonly used on inexpensive leather shoes because they’re less expensive to manufacture and are moderately comfortable. However, textile linings are quicker to absorb moisture and slower to dry out, which leads to sweaty feet and smelly shoes. They also wear out faster, which limits the lifespan of the shoes, because shoe linings are not easy or cost effective to replace.
Not surprisingly, leather is an ideal lining for leather shoes. Here are some of the reasons why:
For one, leather outlasts other materials used in the interiors of shoes. Leather shoe linings hold up better over time than textiles. Leather is a more robust material and is less likely to rip, tear, or develop holes, especially when it is cared for properly.
Since leather is a hide, it’s breathable and less likely to retain moisture than other materials. It won’t absorb sweat as quickly and leather lined shoes are less likely to develop a smell over time.
Leather is often more comfortable. Quality leather will conform to your feet, and soften over time to become buttery soft. A better fit means less chafing and fewer blisters. This is the reason that Samuel Hubbard uses full glove-leather lining for a buttery soft feel and to eliminate pressure points.
Leather lining is more complex and time intensive compared to a fiber-based textile. Whereas textiles have a consistent man-made quality, each cut of leather is unique and needs to be carefully processed to achieve the same finish throughout the lining of each shoe.
Not all leather is created equal. Inexpensive leathers require more processing and can dry out and crack over time. Premium leather will actually become softer and more comfortable as it ages.
Shearling is a hide similar to leather, but is sourced from sheep instead. One side will have a suede surface while the other side will have a soft wool layer. Shearling is a great lining for cold conditions because wool is an incredibly effective insulator that retains heat in even the coldest temperatures.
Shearling linings will commonly be found on boots, or shoes and slippers geared towards winter use. For other seasons, it’s too warm and will cause excessive sweating.
Samuel Hubbard offers an extensive selection of footwear lined with premium leather and shearling.