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The Gentleman's Guide to the History of Leather

Posted on February 28 2020

In the previous editions of the Gentleman's Guide, we discussed the dos and don'ts of pairing and wearing leather shoes. This month, we travel back into our past to understand the history of leather. Why did our forefathers choose this material to make their shoes?

The Beginning

It appears that the gentlemen of the Paleolithic era were quite practical in nature. After hunting animals for meat, they would use other parts of the animal's body for other purposes. It included harvesting the hide for making tents, crude clothing and the earliest forms of sandals.

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Civilization Arrives

It is in the Egyptian civilization that you'd find the earlier mentions of leather in wall paintings in 5000 B.C. The ancient Greeks are said to have developed the process of leather tanning to make clothing, military equipment and footwear.

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Medieval Era

In the middle ages, villages and towns across Europe had tanneries powered by water-wheel machines, which would be used to produce leather for clothing and other purposes.

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Industrial Revolution

In the 18th and 19th century, leather started being used in machinery as belts, diaphragms and washers. From vegetable-tanned leather, mankind switched to the more advanced chrome-tanned leather.

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Modern Era

It is in the modern era that we see the creation of the boot as we know it. From riding boots to cowboy boots, the leather footwear began taking many shapes and forms. And the rest, as you know, is history.

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