If you are here, you probably don’t need to be convinced that buying quality Italian leather shoes is worth the investment. It makes sense: put $300-something into a great pair of dress shoes that will last decades for maintenance and the cost-per-wear averages out very reasonably. Whereas, if you buy some low-grade shoes for around $100 and they only last you a year-and-a-half (tops!), you will be in the red before the next leap year.
Of course, price can sometimes be deceptive. So how do you make sure you’re getting a quality pair of Italian leather shoes that will last for decades? It comes down to two things:
First and foremost, your shoes need to be made of leather. All of it—including the sole! So many shoe manufacturers try and pass off their cheap shoes with man-made soles by throwing on a treated leather upper and labeling them “vero cuoio.” Treated leather means the hide has been sanded down to a uniform finish, then coated with sealant to look nice and shiny in the store. This look fades after a couple of wears. Do not waste your money on shoes made from treated leather.
Instead, look for shoes made with full-grain leather. Full-grain leather means the hide was minimally treated and will retain some of the natural markings of the cow’s hide. It ages well with proper care, and it doesn’t flake or crumble like treated leather. Check the item description before buying and make sure it does not say “genuine” or “top grain.” Those buzzwords have no real purpose other than attempting to trick consumers into buying an inferior product.
The next important thing to remember when it comes to making your Italian leather shoes last for decades is your daily care routine. If you want your leather shoes to last longer, never wear the same pair two days in a row. Your shoes need some time to breathe and relax in order to expel moisture, which helps preserve the leather. Additionally, store your shoes with wooden shoe trees which not only help draw out sweat, but also help retain the shoe’s shape.
Furthermore, you should have a daily care routine for your shoes. Always remove excess dirt and grime with a soft cloth and avoid exposing them to any excessive moisture. Keep a quality shoe polish on hand and take a little time to protect your investment. Read more of our suggestions for everyday shoe care here.
Finally, find a great cobbler that you can take your shoes to when they are looking worse for wear. Simple repairs are inexpensive, but can add years to the life of your Italian leather shoes. We have some tips for picking out a great cobbler here.