Top-Grain Leather for Shoe Making

The second layer, which has been sanded or buffed to remove imperfections.

Top-Grain Leather More flexible than full-grain but slightly less durable.


Description: Top-grain leather that's been lightly sanded or buffed on the grain side to create a velvety surface similar to suede but more durable.

Thickness: Typically 1.0 - 1.5 mm.

Benefits: Soft and has a distinct appearance, but can be more susceptible to stains and water damage.

Common Uses: Casual footwear like Oxford shoes, Derby shoes or Loafers, fashion-forward designs, and boots.

Saffiano Leather

Description: Top-grain leather that's been treated with a stamping method, giving it a cross-hatch texture.

Thickness: Usually 1.2 - 1.6 mm.

Benefits: Resistant to stains, water, and scratches due to its unique texture.

Common Uses: Luxury footwear, handbags, and accessories.

Corrected Grain Leather

Description: Leather that has had its surface imperfections corrected or sanded off, and then embossed to give it a uniform texture.

Thickness: Typically 1.0 - 1.4 mm.

Benefits: More uniform in appearance and often more affordable than full-grain.

Common Uses: Everyday footwear, especially where a consistent appearance is desired

Pull-Up Leather (or Waxed Leather)

Description: Top-grain leather that's been stamped with patterns or textures, such as crocodile or snake, to achieve a specific look.

Thickness: Typically 1.0 - 1.5 mm.

Benefits: Offers a unique and exotic appearance without the cost of genuine exotic leathers.

Common Uses: Fashion-forward footwear, statement pieces.

Patent Leather

Description: Top-grain leather that's been coated with a high-gloss finish, resulting in a shiny and sleek appearance.

Thickness: Typically 1.0 - 1.5 mm.

Benefits: Offers a polished and elegant look, and is also water-resistant.

Common Uses: Formal shoes like classical Flat Ballet shoes of High heels pumps, dance shoes, fashion-forward designs, and accessories.

Napa leather

Napa leather originally referred to the soft and smooth leather from Napa, California. Today, it's used to describe soft, smooth leathers in general. Napa leather is typically dyed and can be made from the outer (top grain) or inner (split) layers of the hide, but the most common and higher-quality Napa leathers are made from top grain.  So, when we are referring to top-grain Napa leather, we are talking about the outermost layer of the hide, which has been sanded or buffed to remove imperfections, resulting in a smooth and flexible leather. This makes it a type of top-grain leather.

So napa leather, often referred to as "napa" or "nappa," is a soft, smooth leather typically known for its pliability and buttery texture. It's commonly used for high-quality leather products, including gloves, wallets, upholstery, and, of course, shoes.

Napa leather can be made from the hides of different animals, including sheep, cows, and pigs. The primary characteristic that defines napa is its softness, which is achieved through a specific tanning process.

Description: Soft, smooth leather known for its pliability and luxurious texture.

Thickness: Varies, but typically on the thinner side, around 0.6 - 1.2 mm.

Benefits: Extremely soft to the touch, comfortable, and often has a fine grain.

Common Uses: Luxury footwear, gloves, handbags, and upholstery.

Depending on the grade and the particular tanning procedure applied, napa leather can be produced from both full-grain and top-grain leather. However, top-grain leather is most frequently linked with it since that material's surface is frequently buffed or sanded to obtain the leather's distinctive smoothness.

If you want to discover other materials that you can use in making your shoes, read more about it here.

Also, I welcome you to learn about the full shoemaking process, which will help you realize what you truly need in order to make shoes.

Online stores to buy leather for shoe making

Here are some online stores where you can purchase various leather types mentioned above:

All Shoemaking Supplies 

If you want to make shoes there is no way around it, you will need knifes, hammers, leather, glue, shanks, boards, and everything else to get the job done.
For that purpose I have created a detailed list of everything you need to make shoes.