When you go shopping for new boots, you will notice a wide array of styles, some made from genuine animal leather and some from synthetic materials. The synthetic boots often look a lot like leather with a noticeable price difference. If you’re going by appearance alone it may be difficult to make your choice. Consider some of these pros and cons of choosing synthetic over leather and vice versa.
Leather costs more than synthetic materials. This is because the process of making leather takes longer and there is a more limited supply of it. Synthetic materials are produced in factories, as much as is needed, so it’s cheaper. However, synthetic boots also have to replaced more often than leather boots, so they don’t represent a real savings for everyone. Think about long-term costs when choosing your boots.
“Breaking In” Period
When you first buy your boots, they will seem rather stiff and uncomfortable until you wear them enough to break them in. Leather loses its shape slowly, so leather boots will be uncomfortable for a while. Synthetic materials, on the other hand, break down quickly. You’ll find yourself comfortable in those boots much sooner. If you don’t wear your boots very often, you may prefer the synthetic simply because they feel better on your feet, and you wouldn’t be able to break in the leather ones quickly enough to be worth it.
The same attribute of leather that causes it to take so long to conform to your feet also makes it last longer. It holds its shape better than any synthetic substitute, so, once you break them in, your leather boots will continue to be comfortable and attractive for several years’ worth of use. Similar synthetic boots may need to be replaced every few months. If you wear your boots often, the extra money and discomfort at the beginning may be worth the ability to wear them for a longer time.
Some people object to the use of leather for ethical reasons, because they object to exploitation of animals. After all, leather is cured animal skin. Very few animals, however, are actually killed just for their skins. Cowhide is the material used the most often, from animals slaughtered for their meet. Pigs, horses, deer and sheep skins are also used for leather, as well as more exotic animals like ostriches and snakes. If your concern is just not causing an animal’s death you can chose cow leather; otherwise, synthetic materials provide an animal-cruelty alternative.
Kate Coen has been writing professionally since 1996. She has written for "The Guardian," "Time" magazine, "SIX Magazine," Reuters, Bloomberg and other media. Coen holds a Bachelor of Arts in modern languages (French and Spanish) from Oxford University.
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