Many of these exotic leathers are made from animals, snakes, and other reptiles that are farmed, while others are made from animals poached illegally. Whereas CP Slippers does not condone or support this type of illegal activity, especially considering that some of these animals are nearing extinction, we would be remiss in producing a History of Leather collection that does not include these exotic leathers, unique hides, and glamorous skins and their story.
Just be sure to buy from reputable dealers and you can get some durable and truly stunning leather product.
Kangaroo leather is arguably one of the best leathers for strong, durable shoes. The leather from a kangaroo’s hide is strong and flexible, while lightweight compared to a cow’s or a goat’s hide. Australian Kangaroo hide is stronger than a cow’s hide of the same weight; it is pound-for-pound the strongest leather in the world. Because of the rough life they live in the outback of Australia, almost all Kangaroos have scars, this is a guarantee of its authenticity.
Elephant, Rhino, & Hippo Hide Leather
Elephant hide is also very strong and durable. Elephant leather is a very exotic thick-grained leather. In fact, you can expect it to be 3 – 5 ounces thick and very resistant to the weather, except on the fleshy side. Therefore, it will make a great pair of sturdy, long-lasting work shoes.
Hippo hide has relatively the same type of rugged tough grain texture as elephant hide, yet both are very comfortable.
Ostrich leather has one of the finest textures of these rugged leathers. And, since ostrich are farmed nearly worldwide, you shouldn’t have to worry about them being poached for their hide. The skin has a goose-bump texture from the feathers, which makes it durable and flexible, yet soft, supple, and comfortable. Its leather does not crack even under extreme weather conditions, so it is very long-lasting.
Ostrich leather has a “full quill” area that is the most sought-after of ostrich leathers and thus, more expensive. Less expensive ostrich leather is the “semi quill” and the “smooth ostrich quill” The full quill leather is most often taken from the back or the ostrich, where the largest feathers were and are often left with the natural hole from where the feather was plucked to make for better ventilation for leather shoes.
American Alligator & Caiman Crocodile Leather
The American alligator is also widely farmed in the Southeastern USA, where many restaurants serve deep-fried gator morsels with French fries or rice. Alligator or ‘gator skin is a classic skin for making slippers and shoes. Although it is very rugged and durable, it is very soft and pliable. And, because it contains fewer bones, it is quite easy to work with and fold, form, cut and stitch.
The Caiman Crocodile is farmed throughout South and Central America. Although they are related, the Caiman croc is quite different than the American Alligator, in that it is more rigid because of the calcium deposits that formed its scales.
Snakeskins: Rattlesnakes, Pythons, Sea Snakes or Eel Leather
Most of the rattlesnakes, pythons, and eels are farmed, some even go to the farm to pick their “snake” and choose how it will be cut to determine its exotic pattern. Depending on whether you cut across the belly (belly cut), which has the smaller scales, or the back (back cut) with very large scales, will dictate the pattern, then the skins are normally bleached to remove the natural color, though some customers may prefer it left as is.
Native American & African Tribal Techniques
Native Americans and some African tribes developed innovative techniques for turning animal hides into shoes and clothing. They soaked the skins in water mixed with hemlock, oak bark and ashes from their campfires for a few weeks. This removed the animal hair and any leftover flesh. They then worked the hides by hand to make them soft and pliable. Smoking and salting skins were also popular for tanning.
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