I worked in the clothes and fashion industry for a number of years, both on the manufacturing side as well as the styling side. And during that time, I got to know an open secret.
Salesmen lie. And in other news, the sky is blue.
I would routinely see sales people boast about the durability of a shoe (some went so far to say that the shoes would last a ‘lifetime’), when I knew for a fact that it wasn’t possible. Because I was the guy who actually made them.
This is specially true for leather shoes where words like ‘durability’, ‘quality’ and ‘genuine leather’ are thrown around so much that they have lost their meaning.
So how long do leather shoes actually last?
On average, leather shoes last around 2 years if subjected to daily usage. Higher quality leather shoes usually last up to 5-7 years, while lower quality leather shoes last for 6-12 months.
But remember that this is only a ballpark figure.
There is one thing which I cannot stress enough – Each shoe is different. The only two things that you need to be aware of when calculating the age of a shoe are quality and usage.
The number one lesson I learned when I was manufacturing shoes – Quality is king.
If the shoe is well-crafted, it will last longer than the cheap ‘leather’ shoes you see in fast fashion stores (I am looking at you Zara).
The quality of a shoe can be determined by a layperson by looking at only two things:
There are a few industries where you get what you pay for. Shoes are one of them. If you paid 30$ for a pair of leather boots, chances are that they are not high quality and would fall apart within 6 months.
On the other hand, if you paid 400$+ for a pair of leather boots:
- They are going to last you 5+ years.
- I think you should consider buying a yacht. Seriously.
If your shoes are made of plastic, or ‘pleather’ as the brands like to call it, it is quite possible that your shoes won’t even last three months.
Fun Fact: Most pleather shoes have twice the amount of plastic compared to that of leather.
On the other hand, high-quality top grain leather shoes may even last decades if you take proper care of them.
An important factor that we can’t ignore when calculating the potential age of a pair of shoes is how the wearer uses them.
There is no metric or number that I can throw at you for this information. You would have to use your common sense.
If you are using top grain patent leather shoes to run around the city, you can be sure that they won’t even last 6 months.
If you are using good quality suede chelsea boots to hike on a mountain, chances are that they will break before you are able to come down.
If you are using your H&M chukka boots once every few weeks, they may last over five years.
You get my point.
How long do faux leather shoes last?
Depending on the quality of the shoe, faux leather shoes typically last for 6-12 months. As a general rule of thumb, the more plastic there is in a shoe, the less durable it is.
Only go for a faux leather shoe when you have no other options or if you are vegan. Even lower quality genuine leather shoes are much more durable than shoes made from faux leather.
How long do leather boots last?
A good quality leather boot usually lasts for a minimum of two years. High-end boots typically last for more than 5 years, provided that there is no rough usage.
Boots in general are tough shoes, and can take more beating than their dressier counterparts.
How long do leather soles last?
Leather soles are one of the two primary types of soles found on dress shoes (the other is rubber soles, if you are curious).
If you wear your shoes every day and walk a lot, leather soles will probably not last 12 months (at the very least, the heel will almost certainly need replacing, even if the sole has a bit more life left in it).
If you’re rotating them with one or two or more pairs of shoes, they’ll last much longer.
How long do expensive shoes last?
Expensive shoes tend to last for 5-10 years, provided that they are cared for and not subjected to rough usage.
But note that I am talking about expensive ‘quality’ shoes here. But if you are buying a 500$ Gucci shoe, I am sure that you are not buying it because of the quality.
My name is Alex Higson and I am the founder of Magic Of Clothes. I have worked in the fashion industry for many years, and clothes and style are a huge part of my life.