You’re looking for a shoe that is smooth and durable, and feels great on your feet. Perhaps a shoe coated in Polyurethane, abbreviated as PU, is for you. But what exactly is PU?
Polyurethane is a polymer, or synthetic resin. PU is desirable because of its strength, durability, water resistance, and because it generally dries as a transparent, taking on whatever color it is dipped in or whatever it’s brushed on. It also tends to be scratch-resistant.
But, you may be wondering, what does this varnishing material have to do with shoes?
PU is most commonly connected in the shoe world to PU leather. PU leather is split leather, or an animal hide that has been split into thinner sheets than top-grain leather is, and then dipped into the PU resin to create a thicker, water-resistant, and more durable material. This PU leather is what is generally seen on shoes, although regular PU may be brushed onto a rubber or EVA surface to make it tougher, or PU may be molded into plastic sheets to be used on the outsoles of shoes, especially running shoes and sandals.
Although PU leather generally has a hide base, it is categorized as a synthetic because it has been altered by the polyurethane. Some PU leathers, called vegan leathers, do not have any animal hide products at all, but instead are made of fabric brushed with polyurethane made to look like genuine leather.
There are some definite upsides that PU leathers have that top-grain leathers do not. First of all is the cost. Genuine top-grain animal-hide leather can be prohibitively expensive because of the amount of labor and time it takes to complete the finished product. Using PU leather maintains the look and feel of leather while keeping costs down.
Secondly, because of the PU varnish, polyurethane leather is more waterproof than top-grain leather, which is perfect for sandals, flip flops, slides, or other shoes that might be brought on adventures that involve water.
It’s also lighter than genuine leather. Think of a 100% leather boot. It’s usually tough and very heavy. For a sportier shoe, there’s a great advantage to having PU leather, and that’s the weight (or rather, lack thereof). PU leather is very light, so when a sandal or other shoe is made with PU leather, it’ll be easier to walk in, travel with, and hop into when you need to get moving quickly.
PU leather looks and feels great on shoes, but many other products take advantage of PU leather. For example, wallets and purses often use PU leather, as do office chairs and other office supplies, backpacks, journal covers, and low-cost car interiors.
Still, PU leather arguably looks and feels best on footwear, as it is one of the only products in which the PU leather, which feels like top-grain leather, comes into contact with your skin. PU leather takes the stress off, because you can rest assured that you didn’t have to pay an exorbitant amount for it, and because you can clean it with water---something that simply isn’t an option for top-grain hide. Because it is water-safe, you can take the caution you’d normally have to take with leather and throw it to the wind. Want to head to the beach with your PU leather sandals? Go for it! The polyurethane can take it.
Make sure to check out the sandals available with PU leather options on AlohaShoes.com to get a sense of what PU leather looks like on sandals and slippers. Chances are you won’t be disappointed, and the price point for these products can’t be beat.
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Woven Nylon Straps: Strong Comfort between your Toes.
You may notice that many of the sandals offered at AlohaShoes.com have woven nylon straps.
Nylon is a fabric made from nylon fibers, which are tough elastic polymers (synthetic material). Nylon was invented in the 1930s as a toothbrush-bristle material, but gained far more notoriety in women’s stockings, often called “nylons.” Now nylon can be found in a myriad of industries and products including apparel, flooring, packaging, and upholstery.
There is a reason that high-quality shoe brands use nylon to create sandal and flip flop straps rather than plastic. These straps are comfortable, flexible, and waterproof, and they tend to be very soft so that they won’t painfully rub like some plastic strap alternatives.
They are also very compact in structure, making them tough and resistant to tears or breaks. It is much harder to blow out a sandal strap made of nylon than it is for one made of plastic, so nylon is an excellent choice when deciding on a sandal.
Besides these benefits, they’re also very resistant to heat and sunlight. Where plastic becomes brittle with too much heat or sun exposure, nylon is unaffected and maintains its toughness and flexibility.
Because it is waterproof, nylon is also easy to clean. If you drip salsa or beer on your foot during a party, simply take a damp cloth and wipe it off. We’re not speaking from experience, of course, but you never know...
Nylon is also very easy to dye, so it is easy for shoe manufacturers to create fun and fashionable designs.
Resiliency is also an important factor in the choice of nylon straps because even when they’ve been stretched out on your foot for several hours, they’ll bounce back into shape once you take your sandals or flip flops off.
Nylon can also be varied in its luster, so that it can be made shiny, dull, or metallic looking---perfect for any outfit.
And nylon straps will help to wick away bacteria, dead skin, or moisture that can collect on your feet, making them a clean option.
Lastly, and most importantly, nylon is comfortable. Because it is stretchy and soft, it makes an ideal strap, and will grip your feet without feeling tight or painful.
Most nylon straps are flat and relatively smooth. However, there is another variety called “tubular nylon straps.” These tubular straps still lie flat, but are made of two pieces of nylon stitched together so that if it were pinched it would make a tube. The benefits of tubular nylon are that it doubles the strength and durability of a normal nylon strap, and is also softer and more flexible than flat-webbed nylon straps.
When shopping around for a quality pair of durable, long-lasting sandals, keep your eye out for nylon straps, especially tubular nylon straps. They will make life easier on your feet in a number of ways, and gone will be the days of painful blisters caused by lesser materials. You can shop for nylon-strapped shoes now in the inventory carried by AlohaShoes.com. Some examples are the Wahine, the Haleiwa, and the Ele Ele slippers, among others.