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A Primer on Exotic Leather

A Primer on Exotic Leather

Shoes, boots, belts, and other wardrobe items made from exotic leathers can give your wardrobe an instant upgrade. They are rare, luxurious, and have unique aesthetic qualities to add beautiful style and intrigue.

Exotic leathers are made from species uncommonly used in leather crafting, and they have their own special traits. But because these leathers are so unique and unusual, many men aren’t that familiar with them. Once you do understand a bit about their individual characteristics, it will be easier to shop, based on your personal preferences.


Alligator is one of the most classic exotic leathers. Although it’s easy to think of alligator skin as being dry and rough, the leather is actually just the opposite. Alligator leather is renowned for both its buttery softness and its uniform, consistent colors and patterns. Whereas some exotics are characteristically bumpy, alligator has a smoother, more subtle appearance. When alligator skins are dyed the color is evenly distributed across the hide.


Caiman leather comes from a species of crocodile closely related to alligator, and is native to Central and South America. Caiman can also offer bolder, more masculine characteristics, depending upon which part of the skin is used. While some sections of a Caiman skin are smooth and flat, similar to alligator, others along the back of the animal have prominent ridges and plates. Caiman is a great choice when you want to showcase the natural patterns and structure of the hide. You’ll see a great example of that in the Colombo shoes made by Belvedere.


Lizard skins are typically sourced from lizards that are quite large, such as the Teju lizard from South Africa and the Ring lizard from Indonesia. A single lizard skin will usually offer as much as three square feet of leather, and the scales range from small and square-shaped to large and rectangular. But generally speaking, lizard skin leather has a consistent uniformity and subtlety. Lizard is exceptionally soft and accepts dyes beautifully, as you’ll notice if you check out the exotic lizard belts made by Belvedere.


Because eel is an aquatic snake, each skin is long and narrow. In order to fashion most leather good from eel skin, multiple eel hides are sewn together to form a larger piece. Eel is one of the softest and most pliable hides, and it can be stretched more than most animal skins without ripping. Exotic eel leather can also be dyed for handsome colors like the Belvedere belts made from black, camel, and navy, as well as Belvedere’s exciting high-fashion purple.


Ostrich is one of the most luxurious and interesting leathers, with a supple, butter-soft feel. But the visible texture ranges from smooth to blocky to bumpy. The bumps on some ostrich leather are where the quills of the giant bird’s feathers were. The blocky or geometric patterns are derived from the skin of the leg. Ostrich leather is quite durable, super comfortable, and exquisitely stylish for boots, shoes, belts, and other leather accessories.

Now that you are knowledgeable about these fine exotic leathers, you can browse for footwear and accessories made from them to feature in your signature wardrobe.

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