Nathan Baxter from Sydney-based cobbler Baxter & Black provides us with his unique insight into purchasing and maintaining high-quality leather goods. He’s travelled the world honing his craft; a journey that brought him from Australia to London’s Savile Row, and all the way to the home of shoemaking itself in Budapest. Nathan says, “Investing in quality leather goods, is an investment in yourself.” We tend to agree and asked him for some pointers on what to look for when buying quality leather goods.
Examine the leather carefully
“Look at the grain of the leather and get an idea for how the item feels as if it is being used. Lesser quality items won’t have a uniform feel to them. Or a section of leather could have a different grain in a place where it will result in unnecessary creases or early cracking.”
Check the thread and stitching
“Stitching should be uniform and even. Ideally, the thread should look flat against the leather and no fuzz should be seen on the thread. A hand-stitched item is of a higher quality than machine stitching, and less prone to stitches coming apart.”
“Leather is a porous material, all edges should be folded over or sealed. Sealing an edge is done by burnishing it (sealed by rubbing wax into the raw edge) or with a rubberised edge paint.
If the edges are not sealed, then the leather is open to the effects of water and the toil of daily use.”
Avoid genuine leather stamped items
“This means the item is made of low-grade leather. Consider buying items marked ‘Top Grain Leather’,
which is made from leather that has been split to get more use out of the hide. Look for items marked ‘Full Grain Leather’, this is where the whole leather is used for the item.”
Look After Your Leather
Leather is a natural product and will age uniquely over time. Nourishing and cleaning on a regular basis will ensure your leather will age well and give you years of service.
> Sapihir Reno'mat or Renovateur for cleaning shoes
> A sole guard for the fore part of the shoe
> A flush-mounted steel plate for people
who are heavy on their feet
> A cedar shoe tree to wick away moisture and maintain the shape of your shoe