leather upper

leather upper- Everything you need to know about it.

by Dylan Baker
Updated on

If you have ever tried shopping for some formal shoes or boots then you must have come across the term leather upper written on the shoes or on the website, but what does leather upper mean?

Leather upper means that the outer section of the shoes that covers your foot also called the upper of the shoe is made up of leather while the rest of the shoe is probably made out of some synthetic material.

But that’s just the basic definition of leather upper and there is a lot more to it.

In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about leather uppers in order to make the right purchase decision when going shoe shopping next time.

What is the upper of a shoe?

what is shoe upper

The upper of a shoe is the outer portion of the shoe that covers your foot, it is the part of the shoe above the sole and it includes all the different parts of shoes like eyelet, vamp, heals, etc. 

When you wear shoes the portion of it that covers your foot is called the upper, it contains multiple different parts in it but all of them together form the upper.

what does leather upper mean?

Leather upper simply means that the upper of the shoe is made up of leather.

The topmost portion of the shoes that covers your foot can be made of different materials like canvas, leather, etc. If the material used to make that outer portion is leather then the shoe can be called a leather upper shoe.

The rest of the shoes can be made up of different materials like rubber.

There are various different types of leather available in the market that are used to make shoes, some of them are natural/real leather while others are synthetic leather and usually, it is also mentioned on the shoe what kind of leather upper they have used.

Here are the most common types of leather uppers you will find in the market.

Different types of leather uppers:

Not all leathers are high-quality and worth the high prices and it is important to understand the difference between the different types of leather uppers so that you can pick the right one for yourself.

Full Grain Leather Upper

Full-grain leather upper is the strongest and the most durable leather that you can get. It is the strongest part of the hide of an animal situated just under the hair. Full-grain leather is not sanded or buffed which means it retains the natural characteristics of the leather.

This type of leather contains blemishes and marks which adds a bit of character to the products made out of it and as it ages it also develops a patina which means it changes its color over time.

These all are some of the highly desirable quality of leather that people want in their shoes and you get all of them in full-grain leather upper.

The full-grain leather upper shoes are durable, they also resist water up to an extent and last you for years, and as it ages it also develops a patina. So if you are a fan of leather then you should definitely have some full-grain leather upper shoes in your collection.

Top Grain Leather Upper

top grain leather upper is the upper made of the top grain leather which is the second-best type of leather after full-grain leather.

Top grain leather is achieved after sanding and buffing the full-grain leather, it removes any blemishes and marks from leather but it also reduces the durability and the patina of the leather. 

It is called top grain leather because it is achieved by sanding off the top layer of the leather. It is done in order to reduce the thickness of the leather and different finishes can be achieved with this type of leather.

Top grain leather upper still means that the quality of the shoe is really good and if you are not a fan of blemishes or patina on your shoes then this would be a better option for you than full-grain leather.

Genuine Leather Upper

This is the one that confuses a lot of people, genuine leather upper doesn’t mean that you are getting the best quality leather it just means that the product is made up of some kind of leather and it usually means that it is not the best quality.

Genuine leather is a vague term used by manufacturers to describe any type of leather that is not full grain or top grain leather.

Genuine leather uppers are usually made of split leather which is the part of the skin left after the top grain/full-grain leather is spit from it or it can also come be made using intermediate leather which is found between suede and top grain leather.

If you are looking for shoes on a budget then this can be a good option for you as you are getting real leather but the quality of genuine leather is not as good as top-grain or full-grain leather.

Sometimes brands try to fool customers with the term genuine leather but if you ever see this term used on a product then you shouldn’t pay high prices for those products but they can be a good budget buy.

So, Genuine leather upper means that the leather used in the shoes is not fake but it is also not of the best quality but it is affordable which makes them a good option for budget shoes.

But you should know that although genuine leather makes a good first impression it doesn’t hold up that well in the long term and you should definitely pay high prices for genuine leather upper shoes.

Faux Leather Upper

The faux-leather upper is the shoe upper made of faux leather which as the name suggests is not real leather. There are many names of faux leather like fake leather or vegan leather.

Faux leather is a type of leather that is not derived from an animal and is made up of synthetic materials.

This is the lowest quality leather out of all the leather uppers mentioned in this article and is usually found in cheap low-quality shoes.

If you have a very tight budget or you want some shoes that you only want to wear a few times then only you should go for faux leather upper shoes.

What does it mean when a boot says leather upper?

when a pair of boots have leather upper written on it then it means that it means that the upper of the boots is made up of some type of leather while the rest of the shoes could be made of any other material.

The leather upper tag usually also mentions what kind of leather is used to make that boot out of the different types mentioned above.

What is man-made leather upper?

The faux-leather upper is also sometimes referred to as man-made leather upper as this type of leather is synthetic and not actually derived from an animal. There are three main types of man-made leather construction polyurethane (PU), polyvinyl chloride (PVC ), and silicone.

The Bottom Line:

Leather upper means that the top part of the shoes which covers your foot also called the upper is made up of leather. There are many different types of leather uppers available like full-grain leather upper, top-grain leather upper, genuine leather upper, and faux-leather upper. We have mentioned all the things that you needed to know about leather upper in this article and hopefully, you will make the right choice when buying shoes next time.

Photo of author

About the author

Dylan Baker

Dylan is a Men's fashion and image consultant, He is also the man behind Dapperclan. He is extremely passionate about fashion and wants to help men style and look better.