The earliest of shoes had soles of leather as it was easily available and did the job. But as time passed and innovation in polymers happened it resulted in plethora of materials available to produce the base of shoe. The most common types of soles available in the market are:
PU/PVC – The cheapest of all. It has a shiny black luster on it and lightest among all. It has a decent life of 1-1.5 years until it cracks. The problem generally faced with this sole is its grip.
TPR – An advanced PU/PVC sole. It is light in weight, has decent grip and life of 1.5-2 years easily. Thermoplastic Rubber (artificial rubber) is the main component in this sole.
Rubber – Little expensive but totally worth it. It is heavier than above two soles but the grip and durability is much more than them.
Leather sole – Pretty expensive deal and heaviest of them all. You must be wondering that price increases with weight.
So now with some knowledge of soles under our belt, lets investigate advantages and disadvantages of Leather Sole and Rubber Sole.
Grip – Unless you are going to walk only on carpet you are going to have a serious issue with Leather soles. When new it is hard to walk on marble without slipping on every step. Of course once it wears out from the bottom it develops little grip but still not a lot. As you would think no such problem with rubber soles. Rubber wins here.
Water resistance – Leather soles are not water friendly and hence you should not take them out in raining season. It not only damages the sole but loses its grip which might lead you to slip in that water puddle. Again Rubber wins here.
Durability – Leather soles are generally more durable than rubber soles and hence you might not need to change your leather pair every 2 years. Leather wins here.
Resoling – Leather soled shoes can be re-soled if the sole has worn out and you still want that upper leather in your life. The shoes created through Goodyear Welting or Blake Stitching can be re-soled. Rubber soles can be re-soled once worn out. Leather wins here.
If you are living in a country like India I would suggest buying a Rubber or TPR soled shoes. They have much better grips, high elasticity and affordable. And being practical, how many of us like to wear same shoe for 4 years? So go for Rubber!
So why do people buy Leather soled shoe?
Actually it depends more on passion and liking rather than practicality. Can you believe people wear the same shoe for almost 30 years and give it to their children as a legacy? Shoes in European countries costing about 1800 Euros (Approx 140,000 INR) get such treatment. The fine calf leather upper is so liked by the customer that they keep resoling the pair