Leather vs. Rubber Soles

Let us take a close look at the leather soles and rubber soles of shoes and determine which is a better fit for which occasion, pros and cons along with styles on how the sole was attached.

This is a close look at a shoe with leather soles and a shoe with rubber soles.

Knowing whether you made the right shoe purchase can sometimes take time, yet it never takes long to know when you’ve made the wrong purchase! I’ve spent a good number of hours finding the shoe that fits, and knowing what you want and why is half the job done.

Leather soles and rubber soles differ in function and fashion. The cost to produce leather soles is much higher, making them pricier.  Rubber soles are glued on and have more grip. Leather soles are stitched on and more slippery. Stitched soles, whether rubber or leather, can be resoled.

Understanding why a specific sole may be a better fit for you will set you up for future successful purchases and easy shopping. Let’s review the differences between leather soles and rubber soles so that you can make an informed decision.

Table of Contents

Leather Vs. Rubber Soles

This is a pair of running shoes with rubber soles.

Leather soles are made from animal skins, as we know. Traditionally, this was considered a luxury, and thus it has always been an expensive production process. With the introduction of rubber soles, manufacturers jumped at the opportunity because they could now produce soles of similar quality for a fraction of the cost.

Both type of soles usually has their distinctive characteristics and aesthetics that appeal to the wearer. The soles of leather shoes are always stitched on and never glued. This defining feature has given them a reputation for being fashionable, durable, and luxurious. At the bottom of the shoe, you can see the stitching.

On the other hand, rubber soles are usually attached to the shoe using a heavy-duty type of cement glue. Of course, glue cannot hold forever, so the shoe sole detaches from the shoe and hangs like a gaping maw. In essence, rubber soles aren’t necessarily bad, but the process by which they are attached is a little questionable.

Therefore, only shoes that have been stitched can be resoled. Furthermore, leather soles tend to be a lot more slippery than rubber soles. Chemicals used in rubber soles allow for increased grip on a more significant number of surfaces. To combat this, leather soles have a rubber strip across the bottom of the shoe.

On a more practical note, leather soles tend to breathe easier than rubber soles, making them more comfortable during the hot summer season. Rubber soles don’t make a noise when you walk, while leather shoes have a distinctive sound. In addition, leather soles can become a problem in wet conditions, whereas rubber soles are water-resistant.

Rubber is not as durable as leather so that it will fare better against the wear and tear of the elements and everyday life. If you require shoes for everyday office use, leather soles are classy and elegant. If you find yourself walking a lot, particularly outside, a rubber sole would be the preferable choice.  

Should You Wear Shoes With Leather Soles?

This is a pair of formal dress shoes with leather soles.

Leather soles are cool because the material allows the sole to breathe and have a healthy fresh air intake. It’s also great for sweating and other foot infections. They are more cost-effective because they can be repaired or replaced. There are limitations to leather designs, but no one can deny its classy and sophisticated look!

The longevity of leather soles is proportionate to the elements it is exposed to and the frequency. Suppose you walk on hard surfaces such as sidewalks or in an environment that frequently rains or snows; your leather soles may only last around six months. Given the right circumstances, however, it can last up to six years.

Furthermore, leather soles are biodegradable; thus, they are an excellent choice for people who are environmentally conscious about products that have the potential to be harmful to the environment. The same is true for the manufacturing process of leather soles, where only natural substances such as tannin are used.

Should You Wear Shoes With Rubber Soles?

This is a pair of rubber boots with rubber soles for hunters.

If you walk a lot every day, the rubber sole will quickly become your partner in walking. It provides a better grip for wet surfaces or potentially slippery surfaces like tiles or marble. Rubber soles are also water-resistant, making them a fantastic choice for those who live in places with many rainy days.

They are usually comfortable and can withstand walking on rigid surfaces like cement, gravel, and stone. An outdoor enthusiast won’t want to live without a rubber sole. Some rubber soles are stitched, but most rubber soles are glued to the shoe, so it will not be possible to resole them.

Rubber soles also tend to be more lightweight, although they can become heavier when exposed to wet conditions. Because of the ease of manufacturing the rubber made for soles, they also tend to be the more inexpensive alternative when compared to leather soles.

Blake Stitching Vs. Goodyear Welt

This is an Italian leather shoes with Blake stitching.

Blake Stitching and the Goodyear Welt refer to how a sole of a shoe has been attached. As you may have guessed, both methods originate from their inventors; Lyman Reed Blake, who was a shoemaker in 1856, and Charles Goodyear Jr. in 1869. Both ways are still vastly used in today’s shoe construction

The number of times they can be resoled varies slightly between them. A Blake Stitch has a limit to how many times it can be resoled. The machine punches holes through the shoe and down to the inside. Every resole punches new holes, and at some point, it will become impossible to put any more holes and resole the shoe.

This is a pair of Italian leather shoes with Goodyear welt.

Goodyear Welts allow you to pull out the same stitches and use the same holes to resole the shoe. Thus, if you keep your welt in good condition, then a skilled cobbler would be able to repair your sole with relative ease; there’s no need to send it to the factory to be mended.

Conclusion

Whether you purchase a leather sole or a rubber sole, your best fit will be the one that matches your function or fashion. Leather is ideal, but it may not always be practical. Rubber is flexible, but it may not necessarily conform to your specific needs.

Sources:

Youtube: Leather vs. Rubber Soles

Quora: In Formal Shoes Which Sole is Comfortable Rubber or Leather

Youtube: Cobblers Review Blake Stitch vs Goodyear Welted Shoes

Our Everyday Life: What are the Benefits of Leather Soles

Reddit: How Long Should my Leather Soles Last

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