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Leather Creases. Plain and simple. There is no such thing as crease-free leather. Frankly, the thought of people thinking that leather should not crease is just absurd. So many times have I heard people complaining about wrinkled leather and thus blaming either the leather or the maker for this reason. Well allow me to tell you that there are so many more factors that play into a shoe’s leather becoming prominently wrinkled, factors that you have probably never thought about nor even knew existed. The main point however of this post, will not be about me trying to tell you that all cases of leather wrinkling are warranted but rather that a good deal of it is and it has nothing to do with the quality of the leather. I say this because I have seen the best leather wrinkle like there is no tomorrow (on a bespoke shoe no less) and the worst leather maintains perfect shape. Therefore allow me to shed some light on what makes leather wrinkle more so on some shoes and less so on others.

Two cordovan boots, above and below, with two very different creasing patterns...both good leather, one C&J, one VASS
Two cordovan boots, above and below, with two very different creasing patterns…both good leather, one C&J, one VASS

Vass boot

Let me start by saying that bad fit will certainly lead to bad creasing, but that does not mean that good fit won’t either. For example, let’s take myself. I have very shallow feet which leads to most shoes not being a stellar fit. This means that more likely than not, there will be a good amount of space between the top of my foot (not the tip, the top) and the lining of the shoe. That means there is excess space. That excess space means that the leather has more room to bend when I flex my shoe. Contrarily, that means that a person with a foot that has girth will have less space between the top of his shoe and the lining and therefore allow for less room for the leather to crease inwards. For me this can lead to prominent creasing, but that does not mean that I could have taken another size and it would have been fixed, i.e. the shoe is not a bad fit, but it is not bespoke either. This also does not necessarily mean that the person with the bigger foot will not crease. It means that I am more likely to have prominent creasing and he is less likely but then this is simply one factor that comes to play.

same shoe, completely different creasing, way different!
same shoe, completely different creasing, way different! And the black ones were not brand new….

Cleverley side gusset

Bespoke Bestetti
Bespoke Bestetti
Bespoke Dimitri Gomez
Bespoke Dimitri Gomez
John Lobb bespoke (England)
John Lobb bespoke (England)

Leather will now be the next thing that comes about. Good or bad leather do not make a difference most of the time. Of course, real bad belly leather is already creased and will do so even further, but most good makers are not using a ton of this so lets rule this out for the sake of argument. And I have seen the highest grade leather crease like crazy and low grade leather keep it’s shape. As an observation that I have noticed in my time shining shoes, the highest grade of French calfskin seems to crease quite easily and prominently. I have noticed it not only on my bespoke shoes that I made while with Bemer, but on Corthay shoes, John Lobb and Berluti shoes. But the slightly lower grade French calfskin, like on my own J.FitzPatrick shoes among the many other makers at my price-point, do not seem to crease nearly as much. But that does not make our leather superior. On the contrary, the higher grade leather feels so much nicer and more comfortable on my foot. But it does crease more for some strange reason….

Carmina Simpson
Carmina Simpson with hardly any creasing…
Berluti darby
Berluti darby
Berluti Andy Warhol loafer
Berluti Andy Warhol loafer
Corthay Arca
Corthay Arca
J.Fitzpatrick loafers
J.FitzPatrick loafers
Crockett & Jones Whole Cuts Oxfords
Crockett & Jones Whole Cuts Oxfords

The next and one of the most critical reasoning for leather creasing is the model of shoe. Plain toe shoes will always crease more and whole cuts in general will most likely crease the most. This has everything to do with not only the lasting machines that are used for shoemaking but also the tension in the upper and where the pieces of the upper lay on the shoe. You will most likely notice the least amount of wrinkling on a full or semi cap toe brogue as there are many pieces that are thus not as affected by the tension that your foot puts onto the leather. I have seen wholecuts that have around 5 lines of creasing all the way from the end of the facing, down to the toe cap. You would never really see that on a full brogue and the pattern has every reason to do with that. But that does not mean that the wholecut is an inferior pattern, on the contrary it’s one of the hardest to make, but it just so happens to leave that blank canvas that creates a shoe susceptible to creasing….



Leather Creases
not as much creasing on this Berluti whole cuts…strange, but just goes to show that creasing in reality cannot really be pinpointed to any one reason
Corthay Arca
Corthay Arca
Leather Creases
John Lobb tassel loafers

The last reason that you find some shoes creasing more than others has to do with how long they allow the upper to sit on the last thus creating a form-fitting shape. The longer the upper is allowed to form to the last, the better the shoe should hug your foot, and thus provide a better fit that theoretically should decrease the chances of prominent creases as there will not be a lot of excess space inside the shoe. The less time that the upper sits on the last and does not form as well, the more loose space you will find in your shoe while wearing it and the more chance that you will obtain prominent wrinkles. Now, to top it all off, one must realize that every single shoe will be different depending on the foot that is inside of it, what part of the hide that shoe’s leather came from, how it was lasted, how long the upper stayed on the last and then how the person wears his shoes (tight or loose). There are more obscure reasons as well, but then this post would be about a book long!

You take in all these factors for every single pair of shoes and feet inside them and the outcome determines the amount of creasing. You can take the exact same shoe and two different people who take the same size, and creasing between them will be different. Guaranteed. One could have regular non-prominent creasing while the other has tons of it.?I would also be willing to wager that you could take the same person and the two pairs of the same shoe and the creasing would be different between the two pairs, because no two shoes used the same exact leather (place on the hide) or were lasted exactly the same. That being, there really is no one explicable reason why a shoe’s leather is creasing. IT JUST HAPPENS!!

That being, look at all of these high quality shoes with tons of creases and some of them even being bespoke, which just goes to show you that leather quality and fit are not necessarily the reason for prominent creasing…..

My bespoke shoes with way too much creasing for my liking...but what can I do??
My bespoke shoes with way too much creasing for my liking…but what can I do??
Vass with a lot of creasing...
Vass with a lot of creasing…
Leather Creases
A normal amount of creasing in my opinion, particularly for a whole cut….G&G Sinatra
Crockett & Jones
Crockett & Jones
George Cleverley
George Cleverley
Leather Creases
J.FitzPatrick Magnolia Before
J.FitzPatrick Magnolia after....for me, a normal amount of creasing, some of my shoes have less, some have more....just really depends on the last, the pattern and what leather was used on that particular pair....
J.FitzPatrick Magnolia after….for me, a normal amount of creasing, some of my shoes have less, some have more….just really depends on the last, the pattern and what leather was used on that particular pair….

52 thoughts on “Mythbuster Part 1 – Leather Creasing Means Something is Wrong”

  1. Justin,
    At long last someone has said this! Shoes are made for wearing, leather is a natural material with an almost infinite capacity for variation in creasing. The only way to prevent creasing is never to wear your shoes.

        1. Travis Santelmann

          I don’t mind creasing at all. I think it looks great on a high quality shoe.

          Although what about loose grain creasing? This can happen with the use of poor leather. The upper grain , and lower grain separate and create thick vein like wrinkles.

          I purchased a pair of Wolverine 1000 mile boots, they were nearly $400 shipped. The size was perfect! My right boot was perfect, but after just a couple steps, the left boot instantly showed loose grain creasing. Thick creases on the toe box. After just a quick walk around the house indoors. And again, the right shoe shows no wrinkles at all.

          Does loose grain creasing wear out quickly? Will Leather split open?

          I’m exchanging them. But, I wish I didn’t have to. They are beautiful horween CXL veg tanned leather Wolverine 1000 mile boots!

          But, it’s like the left boot uses bad clicking, with belly leather or something lol.

  2. Great post. This makes me feel better about some of my boots. That said out here on the edge of the known world (Edmonton) we do a lot of driving and I hate how my right boot has more creasing than the left.

  3. It can’t be just me but I quite like creasing on some shoes. As long as it is not the embedded creasing from no shoe tree being used, or exaggerated creases from poor care

    A quality well looked after shoe I think looks great with some creasing. Especially coupled with a nice natural aged patina. I have also noticed that over time the bigger creases on some shoes slightly mellow due to the leather age.

    FYI as you have pointed out in the last picture (your shoes) I did think to myself a week or so ago how little they show their creases

    1. it’s definitely not just you Adam!! Many people do (that know about shoes and how they age)….glad to know that mine have not creased so much for you!

  4. Great article !
    A friend of mine told me once : “if you don’t want your shoes creasing, buy sabot ! ”

    I hope i could see you in Paris..

  5. fantastic fantastic post! I learned so much! Seeing the wear and the creasing is really interesting. I wonder why the Carmina has barely any creasing. I am tempted to try a Carmina shoe for the first time to see if this is common with their shoes. Looking forward to more Mythbusters!

    1. not sure why they did not either?? Could have just been the person’s foot in it…like i said, creasing in reality probably has more to do with the foot inside than the shoe itself….a combination of things in reality…glad that you enjoyed the post!

    2. As pointed out in the post it really depends from person to person and shoe to shoe. I have a pair of carmina monks with a cap toe. Where cap toe should technically prevent too many creases, they still have a few of them.

    1. sorry Sameer, it is a bespoke shoe…but the pattern belongs to Stefano Bemer, who you could contact to have made up…

  6. One thing I’ve noticed: grain calf seems to crease less than plain calf, and if they do, the creases are less noticeable on grain surface. Shell cordovan ripples, but these can be kept at bay with shoe trees that have a higher-than-usual instep.

  7. Patrick Patro Lind Lino

    This post was absolutely an eye opener for me. Looking at all my shoes from American, Italian, and Spain I was trying to figure out why some had more/less creases than others. Now I understand. Thank you sir! Cheers.

  8. Great article, very informative. What are your thoughts on driving with ‘posh’ shoes? I try to avoid this at all costs as whilst creasing adds character, uneven creasing really annoys me. OCD perhaps?

    1. haha, a little bit of OCD 🙂 But yea I get your point…depends on how much driving you are doing….short trips are fine…long hauls, no go!

  9. Travers Alvirez

    To avoid parts of the creasing, install shoe trees regularly in conjunction to conditioning. They certainly cannot go away, but to look better and neater.

  10. Travers Alvirez

    Oh, and, different creasing also depends largely on the care regimen provided to the leather. The amount of lubricant (conditioner), recolorant (dyes and pigmented creams), and sealant (waxes) can also provide different crease patterns and creasing degree. What I know is that if a calfskin shoe is lightly greased using something like the Saphir Medaille L’Dor Dubbin Graisse it’ll soften the leather, which, depends on the quality of calf-skin, can improve or worsen creasing. Too much waxes and the grain will be hardened at some points. Too much conditioner can make the leather quite flimsy, thus increase the chances of creasing.

    Shell cordovan is, arguably, the least creased of all the leather, if care regimen was provided accurately. The nature of the leather only allows rolls, not creases. The tighter structure also allow less fiber expansion.

  11. I have a question about creasing. I was under the impression that a cap toe shouldn’t have any creases above the cap (that is, no creases from the cap to the tip of the shoe). Is that right? I usually never have creases on the cap, but just got some shoes recently that do and was wondering if that is still just the shoe or a defect.

    1. never does not exist as all people’s feet are different. It really depends on the foot and not the shoe. In theory there should not be creating on the actual cap, but there can be and that does not really mean that something is wrong, just that some people’s feet don’t mesh perfectly with the model…

  12. The creasing doesn’t bother me as much as the uneven creasing. My right always creases badly and the left barely creases. It is because of driving or is something with my gait?

    1. My feet are the same, it cannot be explained unfortunately, as I do not have gait, nor have I driven since living in Europe, but it still happens

  13. This is something that has always filled the spaces of my mind, especially now that I have a husband who creases his shoes terribly and I’m looking to get him new shoes for Christmas. I grew up with a little sister who was just 18 months behind and my mom would always buy us matching shoes. We both had very narrow feet, both fairly shallow as you would say at the bottom half of the foot toward the toes. Her shoes would look creased and terrible in a few weeks and mine would look almost like new at the end of the year. So, I have been noticing since my very young childhood how people walk in shoes. If you are wearing sneakers or shoes that you don’t care how they wear out, kneel down bending the one foot back in exaggeration giving the shoe a full flex as often as you like. But, I was unconsciously conscious growing up about not doing stuff like that in “nice” shoes, anything I wanted to last or that needed to last. Basically, if you don’t want creases, don’t crease them crazy as that sounds. There’s always another way to bend down without creasing your shoe and kneeling, unless you are selling shoes or changing tires all day long is not necessary. Fast forward 40 years to my husband. He is a natural born kneeler. Maybe because he’s tall he feels the need to kneel constantly but he’s constantly flexing the toe of a shoe beyond what the maker intended. So, while I love that he’s caring for me and bowing to my every desire, I’m having to be strategic in buying him shoes that show less wear. And as for Aimee who commented before me, my guess on the uneven creasing is you are kneeling more often on one foot. One stays flat when you kneel and one gets distressed. Mystery solved.

  14. Great article as ever Justin,

    After wet weather exposure, would you ever advise shoes to be warmed by a radiator to aid the drying process (back on custom shoe trees) or would you imagine this would increase the chance of further creasing and damage to the shoe?

    1. thanks Nick! But no, never put shoes on or near a heater, that will crack the leather. Always allow to naturally dry.

  15. Is there anything that a cobbler can do to minimize or eliminate creases,
    such as with a professional type of shoe iron?

    1. no unfortunately not. To make them slightly go away you can insert a shoe tree and heat them with a blow dryer (but making sure you are doing so from at least 6 inches away)

      1. I’ve heard that a shoe cream should be used to keep the leather supple
        and that a tepid iron may be used over a cloth to slowly iron away the
        creases, but to keep the shoes on shoe trees to set until cool.
        Is this not a good idea?
        I have a story to share in which I was perturbed by creases in a pair
        of uber trendy, high-heeled, but extremely comfortable clogs. I was in
        a rush. I don’t recall having used any buffing cream, because they’re
        not formal shoes. I did use a mini travel iron to iron away creases at
        the front by the toes which likely appeared from bending of the feet.
        The next thing you know, I’m about to enter a car and one of my shoes tore
        right above the rim of the metal grommets where the leather meets the wood of the heel!! I was so thankful that I was steps away from the entrance to my home so I was able to quickly change.
        Can you explain what would have caused the leather to tear? Is it that I didn’t allow the leather too cool or that I hadn’t used cream to first soften the leather? Again, this was an unconventional leather for my shoes..
        more heavy and thick unlike most of my shoes which are much more supple and formal.
        Your suggestion of the blow dryer 6 inches away suggests that I may have
        charred and weakened the leather by an excess of heat from the iron or that perhaps the heat close to the metal on the leather contributed to the tear. 🙁

  16. Great article Justin,
    🙂 One other factor involved with creasing relates to the amount of toe spring the shoe has; a very flat to the ground toe has to bend more when you walk, verses a toe with a fair amount of lift has to bend significantly less as you walk. Fine veg Kangaroo hide creases, but feels beautiful, and the ceases even out over time eg. when I’d first made them they developed quite distinct creases visible at rest, but 90 full day wears later the upper has softened into more, finer creases when at rest. Got to put in more toe spring next time 🙂
    Thanks again.

  17. yes, shoes with elongated toe boxes are more prone to creasing, but that is only natural as they are not shaped like our feet are

  18. I read this blog, very interesting and informative. It will help me to protect my leather shoes from damage and easy to find out quality shoes in the market. Two boots, with two very different leather creasing patterns, both are good types of leather, one C&J, one VASS is really very good. I also like shopping, have many of Leather branded shoes.

  19. Great post, love how knowledgeable you are about shoes!
    I just want to add that I think the wearer’s gait might have quite some impact on creasing (extent and pattern both). Also, the quality of after-wear care and storage of shoes too.

  20. Patrick Nakamura

    Thanks for this article! Sounds like we have similarly shaped feet. I’m glad to know that going down a half size/size is not a solution (for me it would be a 10.5 to a 10). Size 10s just pinch my toes too much and the 10.5s always feel just right in almost every shoe and boot.

  21. Hi Justin. Love your articles as you always seem to tell it straight, the good the bad and the ugly, so folks have realistic expectations about what they should expect from their footwear.

    Question for you, specifically on the pic of your magnolia and a pair of Redmond III brogues I have. Is that little wrinkle on the seam of the toe cap a crease or just a result of the 2 pieces of leather overlapping and creating the impression of a crease?

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