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Rubber vs. leather sole shoes

Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by Joel Shapiro, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. Joel Shapiro

    Joel Shapiro One Too Many

    I'm looking to buy some nice shoes and deciding between leather and rubber soles. I don't work in an office and don't even own a suit. At some point, I will buy a suit again and a pair of leather sole shoes to go with it. However, for walking around on pavement, is rubber preferable to leather? In my case, I was going to pick up a pair of Alden leather-soled plain toe bluchers, but now I'm thinking I'll get some all-weather walkers with rubber soles. I mostly wear chinos and less often, jeans. Thank you for your advice.
  2. cordwangler

    cordwangler One of the Regulars

    It depends on what you need and what you like.

    I prefer leather soled boots and shoes all round. Because they mould to my feet better than rubber, they're more comfortable for me than rubber soles when walking. And leather soles (depending on construction) can generally be re-soled more easily, meaning that the shoes/boots last a whole lot longer than rubber.

    I get an extra rubber sole fitted to my leather shoes/boots, so that they last longer and provide some grip, as leather soles can tend to slip and slide a bit on pavement.

    Try to wear leather footwear in rotation (don't wear the same pair every day), as they'll fare better over time.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  3. MrAcheson

    MrAcheson New in Town

    I prefer rubber soles. Leather is just too slippery on smooth wet office floors. But it's personal preference.
  4. LoveMyHats2

    LoveMyHats2 I'll Lock Up

    For the most part, a good leather sole normally imparts a higher level of quality (if added with the right craftsmanship and welt). However, for wearing a shoe that is more utility than dress, something rubber may be a good alternative. There are some shoes that have vibram added onto a good leather sole.
  5. i have some Loakes bedale s they have leather soles with very good vibram soles on top of them IIRC ....beautiful and comfortable boots which I intend to get another pair of very soon!
  6. I swear by having a rubber half sole stuck over the top of a leather sole. Vibram soles are great for wet weather.
  7. Methuselah

    Methuselah One of the Regulars

    I second this, I buy the ones that come with a tube of glue from Timpsons.
  8. I usually wait until a pair of shoes needs its first reheel, then have oe fitted at that point. Normally Timpsons - every one of their branches I have ever used has done really great work, with superb customer service.
  9. Nick D

    Nick D Call Me a Cab

    All my dress shoes are leather, but you need more than one pair. If you wear leather soles several days in a row and they're wet you'll punch a hole straight through them, so they need to have time to air and dry. I have overshoes which extend the life significantly (only wear them in the wet), and have a guy in town that does great work when I do need a resole. I wouldn't mind a pair of rubber sole shoes in brown and black, but haven't found a pair I really like yet.
  10. Charles Tyrwhitt have some really nice ones in their current sale.
  11. Don Tomaso

    Don Tomaso A-List Customer

  12. Joel Shapiro

    Joel Shapiro One Too Many

    Thanks for your replies. Sounds like leather with a rubber oversole is the way to go for everyday walking around town. Would a pure rubber sole with a Goodyear welt (eg. Danite) not be as durable or desirable as a leather sole with a rubber oversole? I assume it's cheaper replacing a half-sole than a whole one.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  13. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    Whenever I speak with people working in the footwear industry, they always say that you should never add a stick-on rubber sole to a leather soled shoe. Their reasons vary, but include: changing the balance of the shoe; being bad for the leather; and being unecessary due to the availability of goodyear-welted rubber soles.
    In winter i chose to wear rubber soles rather than leather. Quite simply, it is safer on a wet or leaf-strewn pavement. Anyone who has ever ran for a train at a British railway station, on a wet day, will tell you that rubber soles are preferable.
  14. RobStC

    RobStC A-List Customer

    The thing about altering the balance of the shoe seems to hold true, as far as I can see, only as long as the original heel is still intact. If you add a rubber half sole, then you should add a rubber heel layer and adjust the height of the leather heel to compensate for the change. And as for being bad for the leather, yes, it doesn't breathe as well with a rubber half sole on, but you shouldn't keep wearing the same pair of leather shoes for long hours day after day anyway! Giving the shoe a break for a day or two lets it sort out any moisture generated by being worn.

    I have all my dress shoes with rubber half soles and heels, and some of them have been in service (with maintenance) for a decade or more, with no apparent ill effects. The only downside I can see is that you don't get to visit your local Accident and Emergency department at the hospital so frequently..... :D

    For me it's a no-brainer to go with rubber (half) soles, rather than slip-slidey leather, especially in the damp.
  15. Joel Shapiro

    Joel Shapiro One Too Many

    If the shoe/boot originally came with a rubber half-sole and heel, should I also assume the balance will be off or do you just mean for after-market changes?
  16. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

    I was referring to the stick on variety altering the balance.
  17. I'm not following about the balance issue. What harm does it do the leather - is it a breathability thing? I've never had a problem with it before, but there's always a first time! For a long time I disliked rubber soles until I discovered good quality, Goodyear welted rubber soles. Slowly upping the number of those I own. Threw on a pair of Cat rubber-soled roughout boots this morning, anticipating the snow which I see is now lying, at least here in Mile End.... definitely makes a difference.
  18. johnnycanuck

    johnnycanuck One Too Many

    Hello Joel
    Looking at your original post, Alden Blucher seem to go for about $475 http://www.aldenshop.com/Store/DrawProducts.aspx?CategoryID=35&ParentID=3&PageID=&Action=
    you can get a pair of Allen Edmond McAllister with a custom sole (add the rubber at the factory) for about $360
    Being it’s from the factory it should be balanced.

    I have never personally got rubber put on a pair of leather soled shoes. I have owned leather soled shoes, Boots and cowboy boots. With heavy use they will last about two years before they need to be re-soled. I have had bad experiences with small shoe shops that re-sole so I only buy from companies that re-soles their own shoes at the factory. Both Alden and Allen Edmonds offer this service. Good luck and I hope to see your new shoes posted when you get them.
  19. cordwangler

    cordwangler One of the Regulars

    In an ideal world, one where there was unlimited cash, I'd probably get several kinds of footwear for all eventualities.

    But since I'm skint and find leather soles are more comfortable for me than rubber, I do what thousands of men like me have done since time immemorial - and that's have a rubber sole fitted to leather-soled footwear.

    Even if no one had ever had a rubber sole fitted in the history of shoes, if people insisted on telling me 'never', I'd do it anyway (1) to find out for myself and (2) just to break their bloody silly rule!

    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  20. nihil

    nihil One of the Regulars

    The runner outer sole traps moisture and can make the leather sole very mouldy over time.

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