Here’s Everything You Should Know Before Purchasing Exotic Leather Boots - Wei's Western Wear

Here’s Everything You Should Know Before Purchasing Exotic Leather Boots

Why Leather Boots?

Leather is a tried and true material, and you’ve certainly come across it countless of times. Leather has been harvested from animals for thousands of years. Did you know tanneries have been used to condition leather since about 3,000 BC? 

So when people finally invented purpose-built boots, leather was the perfect material. Put in stitches or rivets or even nails in key places, and the rest of the leather can be formed around the foot to protect and be durable, yet be flexible. 

This is the perfect combination for a pair of good cowboy boots: while providing support and protection, leather can be textured and decorated. Over time, a good pair of leather boots molds to your feet and lasts for many years.

Whether you’re looking to beef up your boot collection, add a statement piece to your wardrobe, or you just need some decent work boots, you’ve come to the right place: Wei’s Western Wear. 

Wei’s legendary selection includes more than 150 western boot styles, and more than 120 work boot styles, plus many decades of knowledge and experience in our employees. Some of our boots are hard to find or even unique. 

Wei’s has been chosen the best Western Wear store in Red Deer, the heart of Alberta cattle country, almost every year for decades. People who want to buy cowboy boots in Alberta or work boots in Alberta have been coming to us since 1956.

But these days, our customers are literally everywhere. With Wei’s online e-commerce website, we ship quality leather boots around the world. We are pleased to serve customers in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia alongside our customers in every province and territory in Canada, and almost every state in the USA. We’re grateful to be a leather boot destination for so many. 

If you want to buy work boots in Canada or western or cowboy or cowgirl boots in Canada, come to Wei’s. If you’re looking for rodeo boots in Canada, check out our legendary selection. And if you’re looking for boots with exotic animal leathers, Wei’s has them.

Let’s take a tour through the different animal leathers and how to care for them,  through all the essentials when it comes to purchasing and caring for different types of leather boots, so that you can wear your pair of exotic leather boots with pride. 


Exotic Leathers

So, do we sell boots made from exotic leathers? Yes.

It’s important to remember that leather has always been sourced from animals available in the environment. Around the world, those animals could have been reptiles like crocodiles or lizards, buffalo, horses, goats and cows, and many more animals.

While cow leather is probably the most common animal leather, all these others have also been used, and that continues to this day. 


Leather and Sustainability

Before delving deeper into the details, let’s first address the elephant in the room. Leather can be controversial, as the sustainability of the material is often called into question.

As with all industries, there are sustainable, ethical business models, and there are those that cut corners. Exotic leather sourced from a company whose leather comes from a certified chain is actually quite sustainable. 

Responsible labourers in the leather industry take care to ensure that animal welfare and best environmental practices are prioritized. For example, in Louisiana the farming of reptiles has instigated and supported environmental initiatives to preserve their natural habitat. 

Rest assured, you can find leather boots that fit the bill if sustainability is important to you. 

Understandably, restrictions exist on the international shipments of animal hides and animal parts of any kind. The boots carried by Wei’s may or may not be restricted to sale within Canada, or may be able to be shipped internationally; read the product description to learn more and contact us if you have any questions.


Cowhide Leather

Leather made from cowhide is the most common type of leather used. Nearly all bootmakers offer cowhide boots. Some offer more rigid steer leather or bull leather, softer calf leather or kipskin (leather from a bovine that is older than a calf but younger than a cow).

Furthermore, a piece of cow leather has several layers which are taken apart during the many steps of tanning a hide. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Full-Grain Leather: This is the highest quality cowhide leather that you will find on the market. Full-grain leather is the best layer. The material does not need to be buffed or sanded and retains its “full grain”. They retain their shine the longest. 
  • Top-Grain Leather: Manufacturers of this type of leather make minimal corrections to the hide. Then, they might apply a finish coat to enhance the breathability of the material. Unlike full-grain leather, top-grain removes the top layer of the hide during the tanning process. 
  • Corrected Grain Leather: This type of leather is buffed and sanded to achieve a smooth grain look. Then, they are chemically treated to correct any imperfections present on the hide. 
  • Genuine Leather: This type of leather is the lowest quality available as it is sourced from the lower layers of the animal hide. In fact, there really is no industry-wide definition of genuine leather. They are treated to still look like classic, shiny leather, and this type of leather is a more affordable alternative, but it will likely last only a few years.

But that’s not all. Keep reading for exotic types of leather that’s guaranteed to turn heads. 

Exotic Leathers

There’s a wide range of fashionable leather boots on the market. While the most common is cowhide leather, there are also exotic leathers sourced from other animals. 

Here are some examples of relatively common types of exotic leathers, and examples from Wei’s selection of men’s exotic cowboy boots and women’s exotic cowgirl boots from Lucchese, Hondo, Justin, Ariat, and Black Jack collections

To see them all, including styles from Canada West and Boulet, just head to Wei’s website and search for “exotic”. 

  • Ostrich: This type of leather is popular in luxury cowboy boots as it is both sturdy yet pliable, and has natural oils which help to resist cracking. Ostrich is more expensive than some other exotic leathers. The most prized part of the leather is at the crown of the bird where the quill follicles are most prominent, giving “bumps” to the leather; this is known as “full quill” ostrich.
  • Goat: This material is soft, dynamic, and breathable, making it a great option for your cowboy boots. Goat is also a more affordable type of exotic leather, but it is not in great demand by itself. Goatskin is more often used on part of the boot such as the shaft, but not all of the boot. 
  • Snake: The unique scale patterns on snakeskin make for stunning boots, or other accessories. Most commonly sourced from pythons or rattlesnakes, a snakeskin boot requires regular application of boot conditioner to maintain the scales. Wei’s carries snakeskin boots in-store. 
  • Elephant: While this leather is very tough and scuff-proof, it is also very rare. There are strict regulations on how one can source elephant leather in order to keep the natural population intact. Elephant western boots are very hard to find, but Wei’s has some from Boulet.
  • Caiman Alligator/Crocodile: These similar creatures offer a variety of distinctive leather designs. Like snakeskin, the scales require regular maintenance to prevent cracking. This includes dusting between the scales after any activity, wiping carefully with exotic leather conditioner, and storing properly in a dark place when not in use. The hide may be sourced from:
    • Belly – for a smoother, and flatter material. The scales are still highly visible.
    • Examples in Wei’s exotic western boot election include:
    • Hornback – the back of the reptile with unique ridges and patterns. Example from Lucchese
    • Tail – similar to the hornback, the tail has its own matchless pattern.
    • Note: Faux crocodile leather is often stamped cowhide, so be sure to check the authenticity of your crocodile leather before purchasing.
  • Lizard: Similar to crocodile and alligator skin, lizards have uniquely stunning scale patterns often set in rows with smaller scales for a more upscale (no pun intended!) look. They can be dusted and wiped more easily than caiman scales. What sets lizard leather apart is its glossy finish for those who desire a more polished look.  
  • Justin Women’s
    • Shark: Of course sharks don’t have scales. Sharkskin has a deep grain, and it’s tough, which befits an animal in constant motion. It’s worked through and through to be a durable leather, and it can take a shine. These skins are sourced from fishing villages.
    • Stingray:
      • A beautiful, even otherworldly, leather, played up by Black Jack in this design:  

      The beauty of exotic leathers will last longest when they are cared for properly. Wei’s has the selection, but you must clean and care for them. Read on to learn how to care for exotic leather western cowboy boots and exotic leather western cowgirl boots.

      Caring for Your Leather Cowboy Boots

      Though leather is known for its softness and durability, it’s crucial to take care of them in order to preserve the material so you can enjoy your boots for years to come. 

      Caring for your leather boots consists of four components:

      1. Cleaning daily with a gentle wipe
      2. Applying a waterproof seal once a week
      3. Applying a protective barrier at the beginning and end of each season
      4. Keeping boots clean and moisturized 

      While these aspects are a solid baseline, remember that not all leather is the same. For example, reptile leather such as snakeskin or crocodile require a more consistent moisturizing routine in order to keep the scales from cracking. 

      Wei’s has carried exotic leather boots for decades, and we’ve found the products that help the most when it comes to keeping your boots looking like new. Be sure to purchase the best leather care products to maintain your boot’s pristine condition.  

      What to Look for in Leather Boots

      Choosing the right pair of leather boots matters. Whether you wear them for work or play, they’ll mold to your feet and fit like a glove. But not all leather is made equal, so it’s important to do your due diligence when shopping for a new pair.
      Some tips for shopping for leather boots include:

      • Look for shops that source from reputable companies
      • “Handcrafted” is a good indicator that high quality leather was used
      • Non-cow hides will be thinner and less durable 
      • These boots will cost more than regular cowhide. Make sure you’ll commit to caring for your investment.

      You deserve a well-made pair of boots. Check out Wei’s for high quality leather boots—no guesswork required. 

      Wei’s Trusted Leather Boot Brands

      There’s no shortage of reasons to want a pair of leather boots in your wardrobe, exotic or otherwise. Whether you’re looking to make a fashion statement, you want to build a collection, or you just plain love the feel of a good leather boot, leather boots are always in style. 

      But it’s easy to get overwhelmed by your choices, especially with endless low quality options that walk all over your hard-earned money. 

      Lucky for you, Wei’s Western Wear carries more than 50 styles of exotic leather western boots by top quality brands that manufacture beautiful, durable, and sustainable leather boots, including:

      When you’re paying more for exotic leather, it makes sense to buy quality. Thinking of purchasing from one of these brands? Inquire with the experts at Wei’s. We can’t wait to help you find your new favourite leather boots! 

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