Best Leather Shoes Reviewed & Rated
Having a pair of shoes is great, but having a good pair of shoes, it’s definitely a bonus. Leather happens to one of the oldest fabrics that have been used in making different types of footwear. It is exceptionally durable and offers great appeal to the eye. High-quality leather goods can cost quite a bit and it’s important to make sure you know if you are buying genuine leather or if you are buying something made of synthetic materials that replicate leather.
Despite many synthetic fabrics being unveiled over the years, leather has still managed to survive the test of time. Top brands know that Leather is in the best of the best category when it comes to shoe material. Durable, flexible, and comfortable leather has withstood the test of time and we are sure it will continue to do so. From boots to shoes to sandals you can find all types of footwear in exceptional Leather.
- New Balance MX608V4
- Cushioned Footbed
- EVA Midsole
- Rockport Eureka
- Mesh Lining
- Little Break-In Time
- Clarks Escalade Step
- Removable Insole
- Slip-On Design
Below we have compiled for you the best leather shoes ranging from the Oxford dress shoes to the simple walking shoes. No matter the occasion there is an awesome pair of Leather shoes out there for you. Keep in mind Leather does require care and if you want your shoes to be with you through the long haul you will treat them right. We hope you find a great addition to your collection in our guide below.
10 Best Leather Shoes
2. New Balance MX608V4
The shoes have been constructed with a technology that is able to reduce the level of stress that is generated by the weight of the body and the pounding effect when running. They offer a great fit and are also very comfortable. The footbed of these trainers is well cushioned. In order to offer a more flexible fit, especially for people with wider feet, the shoe is made in two shoe sizes. The sole has been made of a thick sole to provide balance when working out and offer the needed amount of traction. The ABZORB foam on the footbed has been constructed to provide an added soft cushioning effect to the feet.
Style and Design
The upper part has been made using leather fabric that has great color variations, and as a result, these shoes are available in 19 color options. The collars are dual density and have foam padding, hence no irritation being experienced on one's ankles when working out. The natural movement of the foot is encouraged by the flexible outsoles. The midsole has a construction of EVA foam that has an internal injection of the shank, for providing maximum support. The shoes offer a springy step when running because of the ABZORB foam used in the footbed, which also provides soft cushioning. The collar has a dual density construction with good tongue padding. The sizes of the trainer are also versatile.
Cost and Value
A great balance of fit and comfortability has been achieved in this trainer, thanks to the technology that has been used in designing this sneaker. You can wear them to your training or just for a casual look and still be able to get great value. They are an investment that every athlete should consider having. They are great for light training.
Thick Insole For Stability
EVA Midsole For Support
Padded Collar And Tongue
- Durability Issues
5. Rockport Eureka
The breathability of the shoe has been enhanced by the mesh lining which also helps in sweat absorption. The mesh helps to ensure your feet stay dry and cool. Wet feet lead to fungal and bacterial growth that can not only cause itching but also pain. With the overall breathability of this shoe, you won't have to worry about those pesky problems anymore.
Wearing these shoes to an outdoor event or to the office will be perfectly fine. With the rubber sole, you gain good traction on a variety of surfaces. In addition, rubber is exceptionally durable. This will allow you extended and comfortable wear for years to come.
Cost and Value
These shoes have great comfortability and support. They are fairly costly, but then when you look at the features that they have, you will notice that they offer so much that the cost is lessened by the value. They are the best shoes for walking and many buyers love them because of the comfort features they have.
Little To No Break-In Required
Mesh Lining For Breathability
Rubber Sole For Solid Traction
Extra Padding For Stability
8. Clarks Escalade Step
The insole is removable and is also made of leather combined with the Ortholite technology. This combination will allow the sole to form to your particular foot which gives it a customized feel. In addition, Ortholite is excellent at absorbing shock and distributing it. This helps keep your feet, legs, and back feeling great no matter how many hours you are on your feet.
When it comes to the look of these shoes, it is all about the detail. The fine stitching sets the look a notch above others in its class. They will dress up easily but also look great with a pair of jeans. The goring makes them easy to put on but also gives a nice look to the overall shoe.
Cost and Value
Clarks have been known to have very affordable pairs of shoe. These leather shoes give you a classy and dressy look at an affordable price. With their perfect sizing and lightweight nature, they are definitely worth the price.
Orthotic Insole Absorbs Shock
9. Alegria Debra
When you spend long days on your feet pain becomes a part of daily life. If you choose Alegria you will find that to be a thing of the past. The toe box offers enough room for your feet to move naturally and will help you avoid ingrown toenails and toe pain. On top of that, they have a memory foam insole and a rocker bottom that allows your feet to move naturally. True comfort is found when you wear these shoes.
The insole that is used in this option is amazingly comfortable and you may decide to stick with it. However, if you wear a custom orthotic the ability to remove the insole and easily slip yours in is imperative to your overall comfort. In addition, because these are so durable you may find you want to replace the insole with a new set as they break down over time.
Cost and Value
Alegria is known for their exceptional comfort and top quality materials. This comes with a pretty high price tag. You may make an adjustment in your budget to afford them but if you do you won't be disappointed. These shoes will be with you for the long haul and keep your feet, ankles, and back feeling great.
Wide Toe Box
Helps Relieve Foot Pain
- Long Break-In Period
7. Skechers Citywalk Malton
The comfort of a sneaker with the look of an oxford is one of the reasons we love this option. When you are on your feet all day but need something that looks professional and polished this is an excellent choice. They are easy to dress up or down and will keep you pain-free for hours.
Lugged Rubber Outsole
Rubber does an excellent job of providing traction and grip on a variety of surfaces. Add to that the lungs and what you have are a shoe that you can wear just about anywhere. This type of outsole will grip slippery or wet surfaces with ease. Whether you want to wear them to the office or out on a trail they won't let you down.
Cost and Value
These shoes fall into the more affordable category of our guide. They are durable and exceptionally good looking and comfortable. These add to the overall value. Most budgets will be able to absorb their cost easily and after many years, you will see these shoes basically pay for themselves in terms of longevity and comfort.
Easy To Break-In
Rubber Lugs For Traction
Memory Foam Insole
- Seam Durability Issues
10. Finn Mary Jane
The cushioning found throughout this shoe helps to support every area of your feet. It also offers great support to your arch which helps you when you are on your feet for long hours.
A Mary Jane style can be paired with casual as well as dressy outfits. When looking for real comfort and versatility you can't go wrong with this style. Regardless of where you decide where then they will give you comfort and support.
Cost and Value
These shoes are quite affordable and fall towards the low end of our price point. They are great to wear during a variety of seasons and occasions which adds to the overall value. Most budgets will absorb the cost fairly easily and you are sure to be satisfied with your purchase.
- Great for All Occasions
- Awesome Arch Support
- Wide Toe Box
- Adjustable Strap
- Supreme Comfort
- Velcro Durability
3. Sperry Top-Sider
The upper section of this boat shoe has been designed to keep the feet dry always by repelling water. The brown shade used means the shoe has very minimal chances of getting and showing any dirt. The heel cup helps in absorbing any shock that can be generated when walking or bumping into something. When it comes to a comfortable fit, you can decide to either wear the shoes with socks or not, though you will find many people going sockless when they wear boat shoes. Those who have sweaty feet can opt for cotton inserts. The 360 degrees lacing construction used guarantees the wearer a great fit.
The shoe has been designed with shades of brown color ranging from mid-brown to dark brown on the upper part. Though there are navy blue, black and white colors available. The sole can also be white in color or shades of brown. The upper part has been constructed using the leather fabric. The shoe is hand sewn and the stitching is done on the top. The lacing system of the boat shoe is 360 degrees design with two or three eyelets. The laces are made from leather. The soles have been constructed to make sure they are non-marking, well that’s why they are called boat shoes. Added protection is offered to the foot by the padded tongue.
Cost and Value
The cost of these shoes falls towards the middle of our guide. They offer exceptional durability and a style that goes with almost anything. The overall quality helps the value and if you decide to go with them your feet will be comfortable and supported through hours of long wear.
Lacing Construction Offers A Secure Fit
Heel Cup Absorbs Shock Efficiently
Padded Tongue For Comfort
1. Converse All Star Leather
Newly added to its design is the Ortholite Insole. What does this mean for you? Better shock absorption and distribution alongside improved comfort. This type of insole forms to your specific foot and make your shoes feel like they were made just for you.
Converse adds small eyelets to the side of this option. This increases the overall airflow of the shoe. Leather is not the most breathable material and can lead to hot, sweaty feet. The addition of medial eyelets will keep the airflow going to help ensure your feet stay cool and comfortable.
Cost and Value
For an all leather shoe, this one is quite affordable and will fit into most budgets fairly easily. With the genuine leather design, you know this shoe is built to last. In addition, they are very comfortable and will go with any outfit you please.
Orthotic Sole For Shock Absorption
Medial Eyelets Promote Airflow
- Not Waterproof
4. Adidas Samoa Retro
The upper part of the Samoa has a suede fabric combined with stripes made of leather and a heel tab. You will find that some versions of this trainer have the herringbone textile while others have been made from leather that is full grain. Despite this, the trainer offers the needed amount of comfort. The toe box has a signature reinforcement and a rubber bumper. The side stripes are well perforated to enhance breathability. The special edition of this trainer which has a collegiate yellow and navy blue tends to have a toe box that is smaller.
The outsole of the trainer is made of rubber and has a logo pattern of trefoil, if you look at the medial section you will find a larger logo pattern. The sole guarantees cushioning that is comfortable. They are good for long hours of standing, light running, or walking. The sole has been constructed to provide ample arch support to the feet. Due to the sole, the trainer has been praised for their durability.
Cost and Value
The Samoa Adidas are very affordable and the best value in our guide. You will definitely find some of these trainers for sale at very affordable prices. It’s a classic trainer and offers style and comfort at the same time. They are ideal for light workout sessions or just for a simple casual look. Either way, they will provide good value for your money.
Side Perforations For Ventilation
Reinforced Toe Section
6. Bostonian Bolton
The upper section has been constructed with full grain leather combined with articulate stitching. The stitching on this dress shoe is double needled for durability and a classy look. The design and style are very versatile, whether you're wearing them for work or a casual event.
The lightweight sole is very flexible, which is something most buyers like to look for in a leather shoe. The manmade sole is designed to provide comfort and stability on most kinds of flat terrain. This means that the shoes will make sure that you enjoy the different type of activities.
Cost and Value
They are a bit costly but the design is high-quality and versatile to wear for most occasions. With proper care, you can ensure that the shoes will last you a long time so you get the most out of your investment.
Flexible Sole For Comfort
Double Needled Stitching
Now that you have had a chance to look over our list we hope you have gained some valuable information that will ensure a great purchase. Below we have included the criteria we used to choose these as the best. We have also included a frequently asked questions section to answer the most questions in this category.
Criteria For Evaluating The Best Leather Shoes
It’s important to always have the following things in mind when you are shopping for high-quality leather shoes:
- Full grain or correct grain: What exactly is full grain? This means that a grain hide has not been altered, buffed or sanded while on the other hand, the corrected grain might have a few imperfections or rather natural marks (insect bites, wrinkles, scars), which are found on the surface. For grain leather that is top, you will notice that there is consistency in the color. The surface yield is very nice and has a smooth appearance.
- Grading of Leather: the best quality of leather happens to be the one that is the tightest. Look for leather that has tannery.
- Leather Thickness: never make the assumption that the thicker the leather the better the quality, since many leather fabrics that are top graded tend to defy this notion. You will find a very thin leather that is of very high quality.
- The consistency of the color: this should be an important factor when shopping for shoes that have leather fabric that is of medium quality, nevertheless for the top graded ones the consistency of the color doesn’t matter.
Other factors to look at might include the whole cut of the leather and the fit which is normally determined after wearing the shoes for a minimum of 10 minutes.
The Type And Specific Purpose Of The Shoe
Not all leather’s the same and not all leather shoes are made for the same purpose. Different types of leather can be found on different types of shoes, which in turn affects their effectiveness. Some shoes incorporate leather for a purely aesthetic value, while others serve it for performance purposes. This should be considered, always. For instance, if you see a hiking shoe that is made of suede leather, you want to look the other way. That is an indication the manufacturer has no idea what they are doing. Suede is not a performance leather, and is in a way a sponge for dirt and grime, rendering it unfit for dirt trails. However, a fashion shoe with suede leather is perfectly fine. Then you have full grain leather, which is typically made from cowhide and is perfect for hiking boots due to its natural water resistant properties. Keep in mind what you will and will not be doing with your shoes, and/or using them for and you will be sure to steer yourself in the right direction. Know your leather types and what they can be applied for and you can’t go wrong. Below we outline some common types of leather and leather processing methods used for footwear.
The Types Of Leather
Some of the leather types have been mentioned already, but for the sake of being thorough, let’s break it down even more. There are about nine distinguished types of leather used in shoes (depending on who you ask), but let’s go into the most common. Because leather is used as a catch-all term, it’s easy to confuse and mix-up the many different types there actually are, or aren’t. The type of leather can be differentiated by its processing method, or by the animal hide or raw material in which it was made from.
- Roughout – Roughout is an inverted leather meaning it’s flipped inside-out. The flesh side of the leather is on the external, and the flat, smooth side is on the inside. They are somewhat more breathable than standard leather and are favored because they do not need any extra attention when it comes to cleaning. This leather is used for rough-wear and performance rather than looks and fashion.
- Vegan Tanned -This is a super simple leather with no special tanning methods or processing done to it. It’s actually made from organic plant material using tree bark for tanning. It usually comes out light in shade, but the shade does not stick around for long. The leather will naturally darken up with use, and should not be an alarm to you if you do notice a darker shade over time. Just make sure not to get this leather wet, or face shrinking and cracking leather as they dry, and over time.
- Pulled – These leathers are a group of highly oiled and waxed skins turn a different shade, usually lighter, when force is put on the leather such as stretching or pulling. Shoes made of this leather are extremely easy to maintain and fair well against scuffing and similar damage. You can find this leather on boots used for work all the way to casual boots because of it’s diverse nature lending a hand in all walks of life. Easier maintenance is always better.
- Chamois – This leather is also referred to as “shammy”. It resembles suede in a way, and because it absorbs liquids it is usually heavily waxed and oiled. On the bright side, the heavy application of the wax and oils makes it so you don’t need to shine very often.
- Suede – Just the RO leather suede is inverted but instead applies a sanded and highly buffed out finish making it extremely soft and easy to the touch. Water and muck will easily attach itself to the material, so shoes made of suede should not be worn in rough environments.
- S. Grain – Commonly referred to as pebble grain, this leather is made using barley in order to form the texture. The barley assists in shrinking the leather, which instead of shriveling makes the interesting pattern this leather is known for. You can also find this leather made in an alternative way, using embossing techniques over cowhide. It looks classy and is super weather resistant.
- Cordovan – Too many, this is the most favored of all leathers listed here. The leather is extremely durable. It is made using horsehide, and the reason it’s as strong as it is has to do with the area of the horse which the skin used for this leather is pulled from. It is taken from the hind area, where the skin is hardest due to dense pores. This also means it will be a whole lot more naturally water resistant. Another benefit is less creasing. If properly cared for, this leather can last for up to ten years on a shoe, making it very cost effective. You won’t find many colors, and do to the difficult process of working this leather it is costly, but the quality is certainly not contested.
- Calf Skin – This is leather made from cow calves. The young skin means it will be much thinner than normal cowhide. It will also have much fewer blemishes and natural imperfections then the skin of an older cow. Despite the age of the cow and less thick skin, it still holds the same durability and strength. The leather polishes up really well and is of the most ideal skins for dress shoes.
- Patent – This leather is an extremely polished and shined version of cowhide and calfskin. With methods taken from old Chinese polishing habits, or by use of plastics, an extraordinarily eye-catching shine is able to be achieved. It is typically seen in use on formal wear and is probably most popular for this type of shoe across the board.
The Quality Of Leather
The quality of the leather will usually depend on the brand of shoe you get. If you buy an off-brand or generic shoe, chances are very high that you will get some cheap form of leather. You may even find yourself with fake leather on your shoes, which will typically crack and flake depending on how bad it is. It doesn’t matter which type of leather is claimed for the shoe, or what type of curing method used if the job is low quality the whole shoe will suffer. We highly recommend not going with any generic brand when it comes to leather shoes especially due to the specific nature that leather has. It is used across the board for its durability, regardless of other factors and shoe types. You won’t get the durability, or waterproof desired with cheap or imitation material.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is leather made from usually, and what can leather be made from?
A: While most leather shoes are made from either cowhide or calfskin, they aren’t limited to these two sources. Leather can also be made from other animals such as buffalo, elephant, kangaroo, and ostrich. Leather can even be made using sources from reptiles, such as alligators, crocodiles, and snakes. There are a lot of possibilities when it comes to leather, and the material used will have a significant impact on aspects such as durability and overall price.
Q: What type of leather is the most expensive?
A: Cordovan is the most expensive of common leathers. Though as with anything else, the more uncommon the leather, the higher the price tag. The most uncommon being leather from reptile sources. While it makes for one of the most durable leathers available, it’s also the most expensive. Reptile skin shoes are specially made, and cost more than any kind of common leather.
Q: Are there shoes that are entirely (100%) made of leather?
A: For the most part, yes, unless you are also including the shoelaces, adhesive and any bonding material. Leather components can consist of the outsole, insole, inner lining, heel and upper. Leather is such a diverse, durable and useful material that it can be shaped into any and all components as needed, effectively.
Q: How thick does the leather need to be on a shoe to be practical?
A: Thickness is balanced with overall weight and highly depends on it. If a shoe weighs four ounces, the leather upper shoe is in the area of 7/32 of an inch. Let’s say the shoe weighs in the range of one ounce, the thickness of the leather used should be 1/64 of an inch. This is how it’s typically measured.
Q: Both of my shoes have a different shade of leather. Is this normal?
A: This does happen, and usually with low-quality manufacturers. Usually, a pair of shoes is made from the same sheet of leather, and a good manufacturer would ensure any discolored parts are not used, or that the shade of one area can be used for both shoes. Unfortunately, to save money, some manufacturers will make two or three pairs out of one sheet of leather that a high-quality company would use to make one pair, causing the extra two pairs to have less than ideal leather used on them.
Q: What is the best way to care for leather shoes?
A: Leather requires different maintenance and care than any other material used in shoes. While it is one of the most durable materials out there, it can still stain, warp, or become damaged. Proper care will ensure that your shoes look as good as the day you bought them, and will keep them in good form for years to come. The most important aspects of caring for leather are cleaning, conditioning, polishing, and weatherproofing, which we will discuss in more detail below. Be sure to purchase products specifically made for leather.
It’s best to clean and condition your leather once a month, or every other month. You may need to do this more often if you’re particularly rough on your shoes. Dirt and debris can easily be removed with a horsehair or nylon brush and a small amount of warm water. Once the shoes are completely dry, apply conditioner using a clean cloth, and buff lightly with a horsehair brush once the conditioner is dry. This will ensure the leather is adequately moisturized, and help to prevent cracking and warping.
Polishing is important for leather dress shoes in order to retain their color and shine. You can you a neutral shoe cream, or if you notice discoloration or excessive wear you can use a polish that matches the color of your shoe. If using a shoe cream, work a small amount into the leather and let it sit for 3-5 minutes, then use a brush to restore shine and remove excess cream. When using a paste or a type of polish that matches the color of the shoe, rub it on, let it sit for 15-20 seconds, and then buff with a brush.
While leather is naturally resistant to water, it can still become stained or discolored after being in contact with water for an extended period of time, especially on lighter colors such as taupe. For this reason, it’s best to apply a weatherproofing coating every six to twelve months. This will reinforce the natural water resistance and work to prevent staining from water exposure. In the event your shoes do get wet, it’s best to air dry them. While specialized shoe dryers do exist, the quick temperature change can cause the leather to dry out and crack.