Sutro's Handcraft Process

The beauty of a handcrafted shoe is that it is not uniform. The highs and lows in the tones of our uppers is achieved by a combination of burnishing and creaming processes which can only be done by hand and only on vegetal leathers. Chrome leathers already have an applied finish and do not respond to creaming. This is why chrome leathers look uniform, whereas vegetal leathers have highs and lows.

Since our direction is clean lines, our focus is on quality. We use 16 mm thick, premium, full grain leather from small, North American farms where cows roam free. Often times, the marks on the leather are the results of the natural events that occurred during the life of the animal. Instead of hiding all the marks that represents the animal’s life, our approach is to highlight these imperfections and the timeless beauty of natural leather.
The Leather

In line with our hand-crafted boots, Low Carbon Footprint, and respect for nature, we have adopted a custom made process with Vegetal re-tanning. This process infuses natural oils & waxes (i.e. palm oil & beeswax) into the leather fibers. The oils lubricate and hydrate the leather, while the wax reacts with exposure to the environment and with time develops a rich patina that looks better with age.

Vegetable tanning is the only tanning process that affords highs and lows in the leather tone. We avoid dump of harmful chemicals on our leathers and keep the leather as chemical free as possible. We showcase the life of the animal by displaying the marks, scratches, insect bites, all imperfections of its life.

In Chrome tanning process, chemicals "correct" or smooth all the wrinkles. That is why all Chrome/Chromexcel leathers are smooth. Also due to the chemicals used in this tanning process, it is impossible to cream and burnish Chrome leathers. Therefore, the leather is always mono-tone.

What are the marks we see on our leathers?
Our hides come from boutique farms where cows roam in pastures. As a result of natural events that occurred during animal’s life, you will see freckles, insect bites, scratch marks, birth defects, etc. This is a feature of natural leather and is a way to distinguish natural tanning from over worked and over processed tanning.

Why do we see different textures on a pair of boots?
Each part of the boot is cut from a different area of the hide. Depending on the part, you will notice more or less wrinkles. In general, the back part has less wrinkles, the side and stomach have more. We use all parts of the hide that complies with our standard 16 mm thickness.

Why do we see different tones from one pair to another?
Different parts of the leather have different pores and fibers that do not absorb cream uniformly. In addition, creaming and burnishing is done by hand. This gives way to beautiful highs and lows which is a mark of true handcraft.
The Tanning Process

First bees wax is applied to large, soft rotating brushes. The heat generated by the friction of the rotating brushes, in combination with applied wax, darkens the areas on the leather where it is brushed.

We use vegetal creams sources from natural components such as tree barks and plants to add more color to our leathers. Different parts of the leather absorb cream differently, much like human skin. This natural reaction gives way to beautiful highs and lows on the shoes. This is a mark of our premium leather and true handcraft.
  • Brush leather with soft brushes
  • Apply cream
  • Let cream dry
  • Brush with soft brushes to add more life to leather
  • Apply clear Bees Wax for protection of cream
  • Let dry
  • Final brush with soft brushes
The final coloring can only be achieved by the hands of skilled artisans who specialize in their work. The reward of this process is a beautifully toned shoe with natural highs and lows that dramatically enhances the look of the shoe and adds rich character to every pair. This approach allows for a more handcrafted look and allows the shoes to look even better as they age.

Burnishing & Creaming