We are often asked the difference between the various types of leather used to manufacture Solovair footwear. We have presented a brief summary of our finishes and basic care tips suited for each leather type to help you find your ideal shoe or boot.

All Solovair leather footwear is made from bovine leather, specifically cowhide. This is the most abundant leather type that is used by premium leather goods brands. With the exception of Horween Chromexcel leather (which is sourced from the USA), all our leathers are sourced from European tanneries and cattle. Bovine leather offers maximum value for money in terms of durability, elegance and texture. It is also water and abrasion resistant; but is not ‘waterproof’. 

Use the below links to read about a particular leather finish. 

SMOOTH (HI-SHINE) LEATHER

The majority of Solovair boots (including our bestselling Black 8 Eye Derby Boots) are made using smooth corrected leather. Corrected leather is created by splitting full-grain leather, buffing or sanding the grain surface to remove marks or imperfections, and then applying a man-made coating to create a Hi-Shine 'smooth' finish. 

To clean smooth leather, we recommend using a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt. For general maintenance, apply a good quality shoe polish or cream using a dry cloth or soft brush for buffing. Explore our Accessories Collection to find all your shoe care essentials.

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FULL GRAIN LEATHER


Full-grain refers to uncorrected leather. It has a higher quality grade compared to smooth leather because it has no imperfections. As this leather still has the original surface (including the hair cells), it can be nurtured, polished and waterproofed by the owner. Over time, the leather becomes softer without becoming brittle or peeling as some cheaper ‘smooth’ leathers do. Explore our Solovair Premium Collection styles which are all made from full-grain leather. 

To nourish full-grain leather, we recommend our Waterstop Care Kit, which has all the necessary essentials for your footwear. The kit contains one 75ml natural polish, one 75ml coloured polish of your choice, a medium horsehair brush and a lint-free cloth for buffing. 

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PATENT LEATHER

Patent leather is created using the same method as smooth Hi-Shine leather, the difference being that the final coating is a patent. Although glossy in finish, patent leather is not waterproof and should not be worn in extremely wet conditions. It is also important to protect the surface of patent leather from being deeply scratched or broken as the nature of patent finish means any damage cannot be restored.

To care for patent leather, we recommend using a soft bristle brush to dislodge dirt and debris. To remove scuff marks, use a pencil eraser! Lastly, wipe away any debris or eraser shavings using a damp cloth before applying a patent leather cleaner to renew the shine.

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GREASY LEATHER

Greasy leather is full-grain quality but impregnated with an oil to give a supple, waterproof finish. Greasy leather also tends to be thicker, taking a little longer to break-in. You cannot achieve a shine on this leathers matte finish, it just needs to be fed with Dubbin wax, oil or grease for nourishment.

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GAUCHO LEATHER

Gaucho leather is identical to Greasy leather with its full-grain and impregnated oil qualities. Gaucho leather, however, utilises a different tanning technique which enables impressions to be seen along creases when worn, to create a unique distressed look. All marks are removed by a new application of Dubbin wax or grease.

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RUB-OFF LEATHER

Rub-off is a technique applied to smooth Hi-Shine leather. To start the technique, an initial colour (e.g. Burgundy) is placed on the leather followed by a second colour application over the top in a darker colour (e.g. Black). The topcoat is then ‘rubbed off’ to reveal the initial colour below to complete the rub-off look. With time and general wear, the rub-off finish can become more pronounced.

For general leather care for rub-off leathers, we recommend a good quality shoe polish and a soft polishing horsehair brush.

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HORWEEN (CHROMEXCEL) LEATHER

Our Horween is a 'pull-up' leather which comes from the world famous Horween tannery in the USA. Pull up leather is coloured using aniline dyes, and sealed with natural oils or waxes instead of paints, pigments or coatings. Characteristics of this leather type include the movement of internal greases when footwear is worn or flexed resulting in a rugged aged look, similar to that of the Gaucho finish. Due to a high grease content, any marks or scratches can be easily buffed away with Dubbin wax.

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SUEDE & NUBUCK

Our suede is made from the underside of a calf leather hide while Nubuck is made from the outer surface. It is important to note that our suede quality is superior to cheaper and inferior split-leather suede alternatives which are thinner and weaker. Our suede and Nubuck-based products therefore have the same positive characteristics as calf leather in that they are strong and durable. 

The grain of our suede products is also very fine / tight, which allows for easier maintenance and will stay true to its original colour and properties for longer after use. We still however, recommend applying a suede protectant before wearing your footwear for the first time. A suede brush can be used to remove dust and restore the nap after each use. Suede and Nubuck should be kept away from large amounts of water due to its porous quality. 

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