How Long Do Leather Shoes Last? (SOLVED)

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?

Leather is a durable material that can last for many years, depending on the quality of the leather and how well it is cared for.

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.

long lasting suede boots
A suede pair of boots which I have worn exactly once in the past 6 months.

How Long Does Leather Last?

On average, a high-quality leather item, such as a leather jacket or a leather bag can last for several decades or even a lifetime if it is properly cared for. However, lower-quality leathers or items that are exposed to the elements more frequently, may not last as long.

Here are some factors that can affect the lifespan of leather:

1. Quality of the leather

Higher-quality leathers, such as full-grain leather, will generally last longer than lower-quality leathers, such as split-grain or bonded leather. Full-grain leather is made from the top layer of the hide and is considered the strongest and most durable type of leather.

2. Type of leather

Different types of leather have varying properties and lifespans. For example, suede is a type of leather that is made from the underside of the hide and is less durable than full-grain leather. On the other hand, a vegetable-tanned leather is generally known to be more robust and longer lasting than chrome-tanned leather.

3. Exposure to the elements

Leather can be affected by exposure to sunlight, heat, humidity, and rain. Prolonged exposure to these elements can cause the leather to dry out, crack, or fade. To protect your leather items, store them in a cool, dry place and use a waterproofing spray.

4. Use and wear

The more frequently an item is used, the more likely it is to show signs of wear and tear over time. Proper care and cleaning can help prolong the life of your leather items.

5. Maintenance

Regular conditioning and polishing of the leather can help keep the material supple and protected from the elements, prolonging its lifespan.

6. Quality of care

The type of care you give your leather can also affect its lifespan. Improper care, like using the wrong cleaning products, can damage the leather and shorten its lifespan.

It’s worth noting that leather as a natural material, will age and show signs of wear over time, making it look more beautiful and unique. That’s why a good leather care can help to keep the item in good condition for a long time.

long lasting boot
My most long-lasting pair – 12 years

How Long Do Dress Shoes Last?

A good-quality dress shoe made with high-quality materials such as full-grain leather, goodyear welted construction, and a durable rubber sole, should last you anywhere from 3-5 years. With proper care and maintenance, this lifespan can be extended even further.

However, the lifespan of dress shoes can also depend on the frequency of wear. If you wear your dress shoes regularly, they may show signs of wear and tear more quickly, and they may not last as long.

On the other hand, if you only wear them occasionally, they may last longer. It is important to keep track of the wear on the sole and the leather of the shoe and make sure to replace them when needed.

If you want to extend the lifespan of your dress shoes, it’s important to choose high-quality materials, rotate your footwear, and take care of your shoes to make sure they stay in good condition. Remember that investing in a good-quality dress shoe is not just a fashion statement, but it’s also an investment in your footwear.

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.

Leather boots are the ultimate footwear for rugged adventure and city-slicking style. They’re tough, sturdy, and able to withstand all sorts of weather and wear. Whether you’re trudging through the mud on a hiking trail or navigating the concrete jungle, leather boots are built to last.

But just like any other item in your wardrobe, leather boots need a little TLC to keep them in tip-top shape. With proper care, your trusty leather boots will be your go-to footwear for years to come.

Keep them clean and conditioned, avoid exposing them to extreme heat or moisture, and give them a rest between wears to let the leather breathe.

And remember, the more you break them in, the more comfortable they’ll become! And before you know it, your boots will be molded to your feet and it’ll be like walking on clouds.

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 Does Patent Leather Last?

On average, a good quality patent leather can last for several years if it is properly cared for and it’s not exposed to extreme conditions.

Patent leather is a type of leather that has been coated with a high-gloss finish, which gives it a shiny, reflective surface. Patent leather can be made from a variety of leathers, including cowhide, calfskin, and pig skin, and the durability of patent leather can vary depending on the quality of the leather and the coating used.

In general, patent leather is considered to be a relatively durable material, but it can be sensitive to certain elements, such as heat and moisture. Prolonged exposure to these elements can cause the coating to crack or peel.

The lifespan of patent leather can also be affected by the frequency of use and the level of care given to the material. Proper care, like conditioning, cleaning and avoiding exposing the material to elements that can damage the coating, can help prolong the life of patent leather.

It’s important to note that because of the coating, patent leather is not breathable, which means that the leather may not be able to release the moisture that can make it susceptible to mold and bad smells.