A little while ago, we did a post about the best exotic skins to use for men’s shoes. One of the top suggestions was alligator skin.
Alligator skin is, hands down, one of the most luxurious and exclusive exotic leathers you can get for making men’s shoes. The high demand and short supply of alligator skin in general makes it difficult and expensive to acquire, but worth every penny if you really want to make the best shoe and have as little waste as you possibly can.
Here are a few tips for using alligator skin for men’s shoes that can help you make a truly top-notch product to outshine the competition:
Picking Your Skin
When you’re making men’s shoes, you’ll usually want to use grade 2 or 3 alligator skin that’s about 30 – 36 cm wide. This usually provides the most economical option when ordering alligator skin. Also, they’re often easier to get than the pristine, grade 1 skins.
One caveat of ordering grade 2 and 3 skins is that you’ll want to make sure that any marks in the hide are in places you can work around when making your panels for the shoes. This usually isn’t too difficult with skins this size.
Be sure to always order alligator skins in pairs when making shoes so you can use similar belly scales for both shoes—otherwise, you could end up having to use belly scales for one shoe, and tail skin for the other, creating an unattractive, mismatched appearance.
Using Alligator Tails
Your alligator skin will have a tail. Considering how valuable alligator skin can be, it’s important not to let it go to waste.
Generally speaking, there are two ways to use the alligator tail when you’re using the belly for men’s shoes:
- To Make a Second Pair of Shoes. You could use the extra skin from the tails of two alligator hides to make a second pair of shoes to offset the others. Naturally, these shoes will have a slightly different scale pattern since the pattern on the tails is different than the pattern on the bellies.
- To Make Belts. If you are only making one pair or are making an odd number of pairs and you have tail left over, the long, narrow tail portion of an alligator hide can also make a very good high-fashion belt that will match the shoes perfectly.
Some designers do both, alternating between making shoes and making belts out of the tails so that there’s an equal number of belts and shoe pairs. For example, say you have 8 skins. You could make 8 pairs of shoes (4 belly pairs, 4 tail pairs) 4 pairs of shoes and 8 belts (4 belly pairs, and 8 tail belts), 6 pairs of shoes and 4 belts (4 belly pairs, 2 tail pairs, and 4 tails for belts) or any combination in between.
Matching Up Panels Between Skin Pairs
To get a consistent look in each pair of shoes you make, it’s important to mirror your panels from one skin to the next. If you use the top of the belly to make a shoe vamp for the left shoe, that same piece of skin should be used for the vamp of the right shoe.
This also means that when you’re pairing up skins for making shoes, you’ll want to make sure that any defects on the alligator skin are in similar locations so you can work around them in the same way for each shoe in the pair.
Consider Applying Alligator Leather Conditioner to the Finished Product
Alligator leather is well-known for its exceptional softness and flexibility—far more so than many other crocodile skins. However, it still needs to be properly cared for.
Specialized exotic leather conditioners formulated for alligator skin can help you prevent crease marks and preserve the glossy exterior of the leather.
If you use alligator leather conditioner on your men’s shoes, be sure to test in on a small, innocuous part of the shoe first to see how it affects the appearance of the leather first. In some cases, the conditioner may alter the appearance of the leather in a way you might not expect. Leather scraps that you have on hand might make for a good way to test a new leather conditioner.
Need more help with your exotic leather order for men’s shoes, or any other high fashion projects? Reach out to Pan American Leathers today!