Worn for centuries, leather seems to be one of those rare, timeless products that will never go out of style. From leather shoes to priceless leather bags, to the interior of luxury vehicles, we can’t seem to get enough leather, and we can’t seem to have ever gotten enough.
When we say leather is timeless, we mean this almost literally---the earliest finding of leather goods dates back to 1300 B.C. Sometimes hides were greased and smoked, according to Britannica.com, but one way or another ancient civilizations found ways to preserve animal hides for further uses as clothing and other artifacts.
Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians are all recorded as having fashioned leather sandals and armor for themselves. Eventually, by the middle ages, leather tanners and craftsmen began to trade leather goods on a somewhat larger scale. Soon leather carved its way into the bookbinding industry, as many books were covered and bound by the tough and durable material.
The reputation for excellence that leather has built over the centuries continues today, and people are willing to put down big bucks for genuine leather products.
Gone are the days of small tanning operations. Today, tanneries operate on a large scale. Generally, a tanning factory will buy hides that are delivered without the hair of the animal and dried out (cured to remove the moisture) for preservation. The skins are sorted according to the type of leather they will make.
The most efficient tanning method was developed in the 19th century and is called “chrome tanning.” Chrome ions dispel the water that is left over in the hide and bonds to collagens. The whole process can take less than a day. Once tanned this way, the hide is heat-resistant and water-resistant.
The other tanning method is called “vegetable tanning.” In this method, a natural chemical found in plants called “tannins” is used to bind the collagens in the hide similarly to the chrome tanning method. This binding process causes the leather to become water-resistant and flexible. The hides are stretched and immersed for weeks in a tannin solution. Still, vegetable-tanned leather is usually not as soft as chrome-tanned leather, so this is the leather used mostly for accessories like belts and luggage.
While most leather is made from cowhide, it can also be made using the hides of sheep, goats, pigs, horses, kangaroos, ostriches, deer, and elk, though these make up the vast minority of leathers. Reptilian skins are also used in the fashion industry, such as those of snakes, alligators and crocodiles.
While leather is a notoriously long-lasting and tough material, there are rules of thumb when it comes to leather. For instance, long exposure in high-humidity areas without proper care like polishing can cause certain leathers to discolor or even to disintegrate. Exposure to certain chemicals can also have detrimental effects on leather products. However, as long as your leather items are kept in your house or in some other neutral, dry place when not in use, they should be a statement piece that can be used for years to come.
Flip flops, sandals, slides and thongs. We know that these all fall into the “comfy shoe” category, and they all seem like great choices for the beach, yoga, or a quick run out to do errands. But what exactly is the difference between each of these terms?
Let’s start with the umbrella term: sandals. In the U.S., sandals refer to any shoe that are open to the elements and are held onto the foot with straps. Therefore, flip flops, thongs, and slides are all considered a type of sandal, but a sandal could also be a pair of Birkenstocks, a gladiator-style shoe, strappy heels, a pair of Crocs, and a number of other styles.
There are sandals for every occasion. For instance, a strappy wedge heel could be dressed up with a nice evening gown, or a pair of outdoorsy hiking sandals could be packed for a camping and river-rafting trip. There are even slippers with straps that could be considered sleepwear sandals.
Now that we’ve got that established, let’s unpack an American classic: flip flops. These of course are the flat-soled shoes secured by a y-shaped front strap, and include no heel strap or support. The main thing keeping flip flops on your feet is the grip of your toes on the strap, although the strap will rest on the top of your foot and give a little extra stability there.
Named for the sound they make when someone wearing them walks around, they have been a staple in American beach couture since the 1960s. However, the earliest recording of flip flops dates back to ancient Egypt.
There is a cultural divide when it comes to flip flops---older generations still see them as strictly casual wear meant for the beach, while more and more young people are finding it acceptable to dress flip flops up and include them as evening wear.
Interestingly, these versatile shoes have funny different names in a variety of settings. In Australia, for example, the flip flop Americans know and love is called a thong. Yep, thongs are just another name for flip flops.This can be the root of hilarious mix-ups, as in the US “thong” is the name for g-string style underwear. You can see how strongly Australians feel about their thongs in this article in the Sydney Morning Herald. In South Africa, flip flops are called “slops” and in the UK they are generally just referred to as “sandals.”
The ever-trending slides, too, are a kind of sandal. Slides are similar to flip flops in that they have a flat sole, but instead of a y-strap, slides have a single, wide strap that crosses the front of the foot near the toes. Because this strap is wide, elevated, and does not sit firmly on the skin, they can be easily slid in and out of (hence the name “slides”) and because there is no strap that goes between the toes, slides can be worn with socks. Slides are popular in the sporting world because they can be worn after sports practices when an athlete no longer wants to wear his or her cleats, and thick football or soccer socks can fit into slides without hassle.
No matter what kind of sandal you wear, there are benefits and drawbacks to the popular shoes. The benefits are that sandals allow your feet to breathe. When we don’t let our feet breathe, bacteria and sweat can build up, causing athlete’s foot or just plain smelly feet. Sandals allow the air to circulate so your feet remain dry and clear.
Sandals also allow for ease of access, so you can pop them on and off and be ready to go in seconds.
Sandals often tend to be waterproof and quick to dry, making them the perfect footwear to bring to the beach or to explore damp environments like riverbeds or waterfalls.
One drawback to sandals is that if the straps are ill-fitting or made of cheap plastic, they can rub on the skin and cause sores. To prevent this, look for sandals that have leather, nylon, or neoprene straps. These are better quality and lessen the chances of rubbing. You can find each of these kinds of straps in the inventory at AlohaShoes.com.
When you’re on the go, out in nature, or even just hanging at home, you’re going to want a pair of quality sandals nearby.
You'll notice when shopping that some of our sandals feature a material called microfiber. Microfiber may be used in the straps of flip flops or wrapped in the insole (upper part) of the shoe. But what makes microfiber so special?
Microfiber really is a feat of human ingenuity. Microfiber is a synthetic fiber that is incredibly thin---hence the name, microfiber. For context, a strand of microfiber is thinner than a strand of silk and its diameter is more than ⅕ smaller than that of a typical human hair, according to Revolvy.com.
Microfiber is usually made from polyester or a polyester blend and was invented by a Japanese scientist in the 1960s.
Because of the fine, soft quality of microfiber, it is used in a number of different textile products across numerous industries. Microfiber is used to make mats, knitted goods like clothing, upholstery, and accessories to replace those that used to be made from leather, like purses, wallets, backpacks, and of course shoes.
Microfiber has numerous benefits. First of all, it can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth, and will dry out if it becomes wet. This makes it an essentially waterproof product. Some shoes made from microfiber can even be tossed in the washing machine and left out to dry---easy peasy!
Shoes made from microfiber are also much lighter than shoes made with other materials. Lightweight shoes are not only a plus for traveling purposes, such as packing in luggage or getting through TSA checkpoints quickly, but the material also means less strain on your feet, especially if you’re in a service job in which you’re walking around on your feet all day.
Microfiber materials are also breathable and can help to wick away moisture, which helps to lessen the threat of bacteria forming.
Also, because microfiber strands are so small and tightly wound, they make a very soft insole. When your feet rest on a footbed of microfiber, you’ll feel soft and secure so that you can go about your day without worrying about your feet.
And when flip flop straps are made with microfiber, a new host of benefits opens up. One of the biggest flip flop pet peeves is when a strap rubs on the skin and makes a blister, or at the very least an uncomfortable red mark. Flip flops are supposed to be the epitome of casual comfort, so why do we put up with straps that are cheap, uncomfortable, or don’t fit?
When you’re wearing a pair of sandals with a microfiber strap, the strap will fit perfectly to your foot, as it is elastic and flexible. Furthermore, it will be soft and snug, so that you’ll look forward to wearing your flip flops, making your flip flop or slippah experience exactly the way it’s supposed to be.
When you’re browsing the AlohaShoes.com product pages, make sure to keep an eye out for shoes that contain microfiber, such as the Mele. Should you choose to purchase a pair, you can rest assured that you’ll be less susceptible to bacterias, have a comfortable and cushy walking experience, and that you’re a part of human innovation.
Sandals have been a popular footwear item since time immemorial, and for good reason. They are tough, durable, easy to take on and off, and comfortable. They are also lightweight and can be worn with most outfits. Sandals have now evolved to include extra height, like the wedge and platform sandals. Because there are so many kinds of sandals, it can be tough to make a decision about what kind of sandal you’re looking for.
So what’s the difference between wedges and platform sandals, and what are the benefits and drawbacks of each?
Wedges are an outsole that thickens at the heel to form a wedge. The advantages of wedges are that they provide additional height without the instability of a traditional heel.
Wedges were first introduced to the fashion scene in the late 1930s by Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo, and have remained there ever since.
If you’re looking for a sandal that will support your arch, wedges are for you. Unlike traditional heels, in which your arch is subjected to balancing on a tiny stilt, wedges allow your foot to widen out more naturally, which support the natural balance of your arch.
Wedges also happen to be very “in” at the moment. Their popularity has ebbed and flowed for decades, and you’re in luck, because the wedge rage has not slowed recently.
Basically, wedges give you the height and style of heels without the discomfort. It’s a serious win-win.
Before you settle completely with the idea of wedge sandals, you should take a minute to consider platforms. Platform sandals have a thick sole all the way across the shoe, instead of just thickening at the heel. While platform shoes were worn hundreds of years ago to keep people further from the street and to give royalty a bit of a height advantage, they were not popularized in modern fashion until the 1970s. Platforms were extremely popular among women and men in the disco era, but now are preferred mostly by women. They still hold the image of a “party shoe.”
Platform sandals have had a boost of popularity in recent years as ‘70s and ‘80s fashion is making a nostalgic comeback, and this is something to be excited about. As an article in the Wall Street Journal proclaimed, “You don’t walk [in platforms]. You stride.” It’s true that the added inches will give you confidence, but it also reduces the stress put on the balls of your feet with the extra padding.
Both wedge and platform sandals can add a bit of flirty fun to your wardrobe, and will do your feet many more favors than flats without any cushioning or high heels that put too much stress on the toes.
Check out the different varieties of wedge and platform sandals available on AlohaShoes.com and ponder whether you’re a wedge kinda gal or if platforms are more your jam. Maybe you can do both! Either way, AlohaShoes.com has a variety of products to choose from so that you can be a fashionista from the city to the beach. Try the wedged Pualani or the platform Wahine and strut your stuff.