The use of synthetic materials in the footwear industry has become increasingly popular in recent years, however, there is still some confusion over the pros and cons of synthetic options as opposed to more traditional material like leather.
In our experience, many customers have been turned off of synthetic footwear after a bad experience with a pair many years ago. It is fair to say that these materials were distinctly inferior to leathers for many years, but the improvements made in recent years has made the comparison a lot closer. The rise in vegetarianism and veganism has increased the demand for synthetic shoes, and with this increased demand comes increased competition between brands to provide the highest quality of synthetic material. Gone are the days when synthetics “peel” away with minimal wear, on average, modern synthetics are almost as durable as their leather counterparts, sometimes even more so!
The biggest advantage of synthetics is their price. Certain brands offer some styles in either leather or synthetic, with the synthetics being significantly cheaper. Another advantage of synthetics is their resilience to wet weather, neither they nor leathers are naturally waterproof, but leathers are more prone to absorbing water.
The flipside of this point is that leather is the better choice for those that enjoy polishing their shoes, as the same component that makes synthetics more resilient to wet weather also renders them unable to retain the nourishment and pigment that comes from polish, it doesn’t absorb the polish as leather would and simply sits on the surface.
Another reason many choose leather is due to it’s ability to stretch and mould to the size and shape of one’s foot. While it is true that leather gives more readily, synthetics do also stretch, though not quite as much, or as quickly as leather would.