How should I take care of new leather shoes?
November 29, 2011 10:42 AM   Subscribe

How much should new leather show use?

I recently bought a pair of Steve Madden leather boots. After wearing them for a half hour to run to the pharmacy, they already showed signs of cracking near the toe and instep (pictured). I've worn them once since then, and it's gotten slightly worse. These are brand new boots, and I have weatherproofed them but not conditioned them. Is this normal? I keep buying new shoes that do this right away, and I immediately get paranoid that I'm ruining them rather than wearing them in. Should they do this? Is the leather dry? Are they too small? Are they cheap? I've noticed that it happened more quickly when I wore them with thicker "boot" socks.
posted by stoneandstar to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That's normal. Leather is skin, and will wrinkle most in places where it flexes a lot.
posted by rtha at 10:45 AM on November 29, 2011

Steve Madden leather is disposable, so in that sense it barely qualifies as "leather" in all but appearance. There's no "breaking in" phase; you wear them, they fall apart, you get new ones. You are not going to be keeping these boots for a long time, regardless of how you take care of them.
posted by griphus at 10:45 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

(And, yeah, the Steve Madden leather shoes I am wearing as we speak did that immediately as well. Better quality boots will take longer to get wrinkles at the stress-points, but it will happen with them as well.)
posted by griphus at 10:46 AM on November 29, 2011

That looks like wrinkling rather than cracking - if they're actually starting to tear, that's not normal, but from the picture it looks like totally normal wear.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:48 AM on November 29, 2011

It's probably bicast leather or has some other kind of fake-y polyurethane-y coating on the top. Like the leather equivalent of veneered plywood. Better quality leather won't do that as quickly (or will do it in a way that looks natural/worn in/charming); the only kind that I know of that won't do it at all is shell cordovan.
posted by bcwinters at 10:50 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

This makes me feel better, since the boots were pretty cheap and I didn't want to make a big hullabaloo over them. And yeah, the quality is so low I wasn't even sure if the boots were real leather at first. Thanks, guys!
posted by stoneandstar at 10:53 AM on November 29, 2011

Steve Madden leather is disposable, so in that sense it barely qualifies as "leather" in all but appearance.

I have some SM leather shoes that I have work constantly for nearly ten years. The toes are scuffed, but otherwise the shoes have held up just fine.

I agree that the wear in the photo is normal. It's what allows the leather to conform to your feet.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:00 PM on November 29, 2011

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