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The Delusion of the Uncreased Leather

Assuming leather doesn’t and/or shouldn’t crease is like believing in unicorns. It’s incredible how many people believe in unicorns these days. The question is why? I have spoken on this subject a million times before, and will probably do so a million times more. But today we will start to hypothesize on the reasons why people think like this and where might it come from? Because after all, it is a delusion and nothing more!

Many people assume that I talk on subjects like this (somewhat controversial) due to a nasty dealing with a customer in my own brand (the day before or some myth like that) but the reality is that while yes, I have dealt with these issues for sure because I am a brand owner, it was actually brought up in one of the Facebook Shoe Forums that I participate in. The presenter of the question asked ‘Where did this general obsession throughout the community come with finding leathers that don’t crease or hide creasing?’ It reminded me of one of my favorite subjects so thought it good to revisit it, but more from the angle of where does it come from? Why do people think like this? Why do they assume that leather does not crease? So that is what I wanted to touch on, as opposed to proving why it is ludicrous to even think that, with facts and knowledge disproving the idea. You can read that in other posts, like the one by Jesper of Shoegazing.

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Personally speaking, a lot of ‘what has ruined this or that’ for me is social media. It has created this fake reality of what we believe something is, could be, should be, or even must be. We spend countless hours on there looking at fantasy and then want to apply that fantasy with reality. This could probably be a 10-page topic but I think that while social media does a lot of good, it also does a lot of bad when it comes to representing the way things should be and allowing too many doctored photos to distort the reality of how things look. A great response in the forum that touched further on this, from Andy Vaughn of Pure Polish is shown below:

Marketing aesthetics. It’s the same with human models: Perfection. Potential. Untouched. Flawless. Virgin. Smooth.
It’s not about the reality and functionality of getting to know the item (or person) in real life. It’s about selling the idea of perfection.
As you know, social media platforms push highly engaged content to the most viewers. This creates a socially competitive architecture (for the power of popularity) to try and create the most highly engaged content. And the closer an item or model is to perfection or extreme, the more likely it is to get high engagement, which then feeds up to popularity, and then social power.
This is completely independent of what people’s actual preferences in life may be – the heavily creased shoe that fits perfectly with each step, or the loving spouse whose every wrinkle you know and embrace familiarly.
Social Media is not life. It’s a school yard & marketplace.
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Another issue is the prevalence and popularity of forums these days where anyone with a loud internet voice can go on a spew all kinds of crazy ideas not based in reality or facts and because it reaches people on an emotional level they believe it even if it is the height of insanity, like the idea that leather should not crease. And then the topic gets discussed and discussed by these same type of people who think that businesses are charities that should give them 50% off, free international shipping, pay the duties too, and go online and gripe about the most inconsequential and sometimes idiotic things one could imagine reading. It is actually incredible how often that happens. Gone are the days of rational integrity and enter the days of complaining about everything in the hopes to get a virtual pat on the back to justify your irrational emotions. So, the reality, is that we have become too accessible to each other. And while that can be a good thing, it is not in fact when too many insane ideas become accessible to each other and then create spaces of bad information that then corrupts innocent people looking for answers that do not know any better. Through bad algorithms they discover this bad information and boom, a breed of unrealistic expectations is born.

 

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Now, this post is not to be confused with individuals, who are actually intelligent, that dislike creasing so actively choose to avoid leathers that crease. I have met many people like that. They just wear suede as it shows the creasing far less than your typical calfskin. And that is completely rational to understand a consequence of something so then choose a lifestyle in order to attempt to avoid that consequence, as opposed to assuming that all should appease to your dislikes and if it does not then it must be bad. The choice of wearing suede to avoid that dislike is called logical thinking. The belief that calfskin creasing is automatically bad and should not occur is illogical thinking.

 

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The last reason that I feel that many come to the welted world of footwear with these ideas is more from a naive progression of arrival. The issue is that cheap shoes often use synthetic and/or cheap yet very well corrected leathers that in fact, do not crease and therefore lead people to assume that if they are upping their game and buying more expensive and higher quality shoes that the leather would be even better and therefore also not crease. You cannot really blame them for being naive if no one told them that their cheap shoes were in fact not good leather and that the reality is that good leather simply creases. Even worse is some of these super large, super popular brands that many Americans wear before entering the world of welted shoes actually lie on their sites and say ‘full grain leather’ when I would be willing to bet all of my shoes that it is 100% corrected leather. And this last point is probably the most prevalent in reality. Most normal guys don’t even get to the forums until they have been at this point. And when they buy that expensive leather shoe, and it starts creasing all over, they google this and then the bad information starts getting in. And the cycle of the unicorn crease-free leather goes round and round.

All shoes in this post are from some of the top tanneries in the world all with creasing, especially the crust leather and the museum calf which is the most expensive calfskin there is.

 

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7 thoughts on “The Delusion of the Uncreased Leather”

  1. Excellent… once again, so this is why education is important. Essential. And your posts, articles, etc. have always been such a pivotal turn in the world of shoe aficionados…
    Delighted to see a pair of Windermeres that have creased quite the same way as mine… lol!

  2. Agreed Justin – two points I would call out:

    1) A lot of these unrealistic assumptions around leather never creasing (at least the ones I often see on social media) come from people who are maybe less used to spending lots of money on shoes, or would do so only very occasionally. People for whom £100 is a lot to spend on shoes – well, for £300 or £500 they expect sheer perfection. This is obviously not going to be the case, but can seem counter-intuitive to people less immersed in the hobby. We know of course that diminishing returns are very much in play with footwear costs.

    2) For those are immersed in the hobby, we can certainly thank the grind of social media algorithms, as called out in the quote in your article. Instagrammers with huge and endlessly expanding shoe collections that look like they wear each pair twice a year. I always get a chuckle from people saying “loving these new X shoes from Y brand” when they plainly haven’t had more than 5 minutes of wear – maybe reserve your opinions a bit longer than that!

    I can only imagine how annoying it must be to deal with as a retailer such as yourself – it pisses me off just watching it as an impartial observer.

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