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Shoemaker's story #05|Leather story

Blue over sample craftsman. The shoes are made by hand, from the pattern to the sewing and shoemaking. We also handle factory arrangements and material setup.

This series is a compilation of several notes I wrote in order to explain my work, namely making shoes, as clearly as possible.

<When purchasing leather>

I started liking leather after purchasing my first leather product when I was in high school. After I started working with shoes, I started using leather, which is something that is very familiar to my work. There are two main options when it comes to where to buy leather.
  1. leather wholesaler
  2. leather tanner

① is often seen in Asakusa in Tokyo and Daikoku-cho in Osaka. We purchase leather from leather tanners all over Japan and overseas, keep it in stock, and wholesale it. We work with tanners to create standard products, prepare sample books, and sell them to companies and individuals like us who want leather. Since wholesalers have stock, you can often purchase just one piece.

② is tanner. The name probably comes from the tannins in the plants used for tanning. [Tanning] is the process of turning animal hides into leather. The skin may rot or become hard. The hide is turned into leather by tanning with tree sap and chemicals.

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(*The above photo was taken at a long-established tannery)

By the way, before going to the tanner, there is also a leather shop. The hider salts the hide to prevent it from rotting and hands it to the tanner.

[Hide shop] → [Tanner shop] → [Leather wholesaler] → [Purchase]

This is how it usually goes. However, we are fortunate to be able to purchase from wholesalers and tanneries.

Advantages and disadvantages of purchasing from a wholesaler

They keep leather in stock, so you can often get it right away when you need it. However, if the wholesaler is out of stock, it will take a while for the stock to be replenished. As a standard item, we have created a sample book, so there may be less color blurring. When I asked a wholesaler, it seems that there are some types that are prone to color blurring.

You have to choose from the wholesaler's sample book, and if it doesn't match your image, you have to look for another wholesaler. Even if you ask several wholesalers to show you sample books, you may not be satisfied.

Advantages and disadvantages of purchasing from a tanner

We do not have leather in stock, so a lead time of 1 to 2 months is required after placing your order. If you place an order and it turns out to be defective, it will be remade from scratch.

For example, you may be able to be involved in making products using techniques such as waterproof leather with waterproof fatliquors and product dyeing. Since it is necessary to put several pieces of skin in a large wooden barrel called a taiko and turn them to make leather, it is difficult to purchase just one piece, so you will need to purchase 5 to 10 pieces.

You can specify the color and finishing method, so if you have an image of the leather you want, you can often consult with us. The more processing there is, the higher the cost will be.

Color blurring is more likely than when purchasing from a leather wholesaler.
Since it is not a standard product, you need to check it each time you order leather and check the finished product.

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(*The above two photos were taken at a private tanner in Himeji about 7 years ago)

It goes without saying that the purchase price is cheaper than going through a wholesaler. However, when considering the purchase of multiple pieces and the delivery time, I think there are advantages to both wholesalers and tanners.

It is important to use it properly

At blueover, we do business with both wholesalers and tanneries, and we use them differently. For example, it is very difficult to make white leather, but we purchase white leather from wholesalers. Our original 2.3mm thick leather is a thickness that is difficult to obtain, so we made it together with a tanner.

Choose a leather supplier based on the characteristics of the shoes or bag you will be making next.
We consider the advantages and disadvantages of both, and choose which vendor to partner with for each product. Better material. In search of better products.

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<What about leather? I asked ``

You often hear the word SDGs. sustainable development goals. After having children, I began to think about what I could leave behind for the future of my children, and what I could do for them, and I started thinking about things more than ever before. ” started to come to mind.

① Are animals really being slaughtered to make leather?

In recent years, fashion brands that do not use fur or leather have been picked up due to animal welfare concerns. The leather wholesaler listened to my story, and I will summarize it below.

It seems that fur and exotic leather are different, but ``leather'' is made by tanning the hides of animals that are a byproduct of obtaining meat or exterminated pests. It is said that it is punishable to kill or injure animals such as cows and pigs, which are widely distributed as leather products, for the purpose of making leather.

The hides, which are a byproduct of the meat production process, are tanned into leather, and every bit of it is used. From that point of view, it seems like an eco-friendly thing.

② Is tanning environmentally friendly and chrome tanning harmful?

Tannin tanning is a natural ingredient as it is derived from plants. It certainly doesn't seem to have any impact on the environment. What about chrome tanning? When I researched it on the internet, I wondered if chromium was harmful, but it turns out that chromium is actually contained in the human body and some types are necessary.

Hexavalent chromium is considered to be harmful, but Japan has very strict regulations and cannot use it. Trivalent chromium is used, and it is a harmless mineral, rather it is a mineral necessary for humans!

Even so, the chrome used in chrome tanning is said to be cleaned using a purification system, and Himeji and Tochigi, which are famous for their leather production, have amazing purification systems that no one can imitate.

In rare cases, some people develop allergic symptoms to both chromium and tannins.


  • Leather is made as a by-product of meat.
  • Chrome tanning is not harmful.

My favorite leather for a long time. To be honest, I was relieved to hear the answer. I hope to continue to clear up all my misunderstandings and doubts, both small and large.

<A summary of tanning>

We talked about leather yesterday, and today we'll talk about leather as well.
Today we will talk about "tannin tanning". Have you ever heard the word "tanning"? If you leave animal skin alone, it will rot or become hard. By tanning it with plant sap and chemicals and turning it into leather, it becomes stable and usable.


Tannin tanning is a vegetable tanning method that uses tannin (astringency) obtained from plants. There seem to be many kinds of plants, such as persimmon juice, mimosa, and acacia.

Once upon a time, a tanner I worked with told me, ``Tanned leather is just like wood.''

The base color is brown, so the color is not too bright and is an earth tone. It is harder than chrome tanned leather. For shoes with leather soles, thick tanned leather called benz is often used.

Stacked heels (wood-like ones), which are used for leather shoe heels, are made by stacking leather. If you sand it with paper, apply water and polish it with a cloth, it will shine, so it really looks like wood.

What is “Furutan”?

Abbreviation for full tannin. Leather tanned using only plant ingredients without the use of chemicals.
However, just because it's tanned doesn't mean it doesn't use chemicals.
In particular, if the leather is not natural (beige color), dyes and pigments are used to bring out the color. It seems that if you use these, it is not "Furutan".
``Furutan'' contains only plant-derived ingredients, so it is a natural product that can be returned to the soil. It is said that you can eat it once it is baked (*Please do not imitate it*).

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Advantages and disadvantages of tanned leather

When I was young, when I thought of leather, I liked tannin! There was a time when I thought, ``The tannins are good too.'' But chrome is good, and the combination is also good! "I think. There are good and bad things about everything.

[Advantages and disadvantages of tanning]

  • Good smell
    This is my personal opinion.
  • Enjoy the changes over time (aging) .
    It tastes better when it contains oxygen and oil. A light brown shine appears.
  • Tanning takes time
    I hear that it takes about two months to tan the leather in a pool containing a tanning agent called a pit tank.
    There seems to be a drum method (a method that spins the leather around and around like in a washing machine), and although it is slower than chrome tanning, which takes 1 to 5 days, the leather is finished in a relatively short time.
  • Compared to chrome-tanned leather, it stains more easily and is more sensitive to heat.
  • It has less elasticity than chrome, so it is difficult to blend in.

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<Chrome tanning, essential for shoe making>

This is a tanning method that uses heavy metal-based chemicals. It seems that it can be tanned in a short period of time, about 1 to 5 days.

However, the time it takes for the product to be processed by the tanner is almost the same as for tanning. It usually takes about a month to a month and a half. (*If you use a pit tank instead of a drum type, it will take longer to get wet.)

I guess that's because most of the world's leather is chrome tanned. Maybe there's a waiting list?

Advantages and disadvantages of chrome tanning

  • Easy to process into products
    Chrome-tanned leather is more flexible, stretchable, durable, and heat-resistant than vegetable-tanned leather. The leather is not easily damaged during processing, and is soft and stretchy, making it easy to process.
  • Colors can be expressed clearly
    Chrome tanned leather becomes a light blue base called wet blue. If the base is tanned, it tends to have an earthy tone, but chrome has good dyeability and can reproduce vivid colors.
  • Not easy to change over time
    I think many customers expect leather products to change over time, but chrome-tanned leather does not tend to darken in luster or color over time compared to tanned leather. Therefore, it requires less care than tanning, but it may not be enough for those who want to grow leather.

As I wrote before, it seems that there is no impact on the environment.

What about chrome tanning in shoe making?

If you choose leather as the main material for the upper of your shoes, you will most likely choose chrome-tanned leather. It is more resistant to moisture than tanned leather, so you may be less likely to notice stains after it is made into a product.

Shoes are made by cutting leather, sewing it with a sewing machine, fitting the finished upper part to a wooden mold, and pulling or hitting it. I pull and hit it so hard I feel sorry for the leather. But if you don't do that, it won't fit properly into the wooden mold.

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(*The photo is blueover's Goodyear manufacturing model "PHOLUS")

If it's too hard or doesn't stretch, it's difficult to make into shoes, but once upon a time, I personally made shoes that were so hard that my feet hurt. .

Also, when doing fishing, the cores that go into the toes and heels need to be melted with heat or chemicals, but chrome-tanned leather doesn't easily get damaged, which is a big help for me.


Both tanning and chrome tanning have their advantages and disadvantages. We at blueover believe that it is important to create products that take advantage of the unique characteristics of materials other than leather. This should lead to products that can be used for a long time.

<Types of leather - smooth leather>

Leather has different names depending on its surface finish. Smooth leather, velor, nubuck, suede, embossed, shrink, enamel, etc. I would like to start with smooth leather.

smooth leather

Smooth leather is the most common type of leather. In the meaning of [smooth leather], it has nothing to do with the type of leather such as cowhide or horsehide. It can be divided according to the finished state.

Therefore, brushed leather such as velor, nubuck, and suede, embossed leather with grain, and shrink leather do not fit here. Generally, it is made from chrome-tanned leather that is ironed to make it smooth, but even tanned or oiled leather is considered smooth if the surface is smooth. So, even though it is called smooth leather , the leather finishing methods are different, so the appearance will vary.

For example, let's compare with the blueover model.

If I were to compare it to a model using smooth leather, it would be marco and bob .

The smooth leather used by marco is impregnated with waterproof fat, making it semi-permanently waterproof. You can enjoy the original look of the leather, but it also has a unique luster, making it a beautiful leather.

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With the bobbed hair , the white and black colors come out beautifully, and the leather is soft and smooth. White is a very difficult color to make, but it is made so that it looks uniform so that the color and expression do not change depending on the part of the leather.

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By the way, most business shoes are made of smooth leather. To summarize, even though it's the same smooth leather, there are many ways to finish it depending on what kind of look you want, and the way it shows off will be completely different.

<Types of leather - brushed leather>

Blueover shoes may be characterized by the fact that they often use leather. Fabrics such as humps and nylon are sometimes used, but in those cases, leather is used as a combination material. Today we will talk about brushed leather, which goes well with sneakers.

What is brushed leather?

Brushed leather is leather that has been sanded with sandpaper to make it fluffy.
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However, there are many types, such as suede, nubuck, and velor (there are others, but I will omit them). This time, I would like to introduce suede, nubuck, and velor , which are materials we often use at blueover, and which you may find around you.


Isn't suede the most common type of brushed leather? Back when I didn't know much about leather, I thought all brushed leather was suede. (Hehehe.)

Suede is a relatively small piece of leather (goatskin, sheepskin, pigskin) that has been fluffed on the back side. Small leather has small fibers, so although it is fuzzy, it has a fine and pleasant impression.

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(blueover suede models: Mikey SUEDE (top), SHORTY SUEDE (bottom))

The leather is thinner than cowhide, so I use it as a lining.

Come to think of it, once upon a time I bought a mustard-colored sheep suede jacket at TOMORROWLAND. Since it is based on a small piece of leather, it is light and is often used for clothing.


Nubuck is a large piece of cowhide leather made by sanding the surface of the leather with paper to make it smooth. Among suede, nubuck, and velor, it has the shortest bristles and is the most comfortable to the touch, making you want to rub your cheeks.

It is also often used by luxury brands. It certainly feels more smooth than other brushed leathers. It has a slight shine and is made of large cowhide leather, so it is thick. Also commonly used in blueover.

Recently, the brand's 10th anniversary model, everyone's Mikey, is made of nubuck.

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(Blueover's nubuck model: Everyone's Mikey *The photo is a sample)


The material we use the most is velor . Velor is made from a large piece of cowhide leather with a layer of paper on the floor (back side) and is thick.

Also, I said that the suede is small and the fibers are fine, but on the contrary, the fibers are large, so it has a rough, brushed feel and a casual atmosphere.

Velor can be further classified into two types. Silver velor and floor velor . Does it have a silver surface or not? We love both, but Mikey, which has been around since the blueover brand's launch, has floor velor.

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(blueover velor model: Mikey)

We use 2mm thick velor. However, recently it seems to be difficult to purchase thick and sturdy velor.

How about brushed leather? If you compare each with Mikey, it will be easier to understand the difference in impression. The classic velor Mikey had the most casual and cute look.

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Shoemaker's story #08|About materials

[1800 characters] Kobanashi content. “About the core material for the toes and heels” and “The story of finding the core material”

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Shoemaker's Story #03|Making parts, models, and sizes

[2700 characters] Kobanashi content. “Making the upper”, “Behind the scenes of production ~ Sandals “Fosco2” edition”

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