Why your next boots should be made from sustainable antelope leather
Tougher, sturdier and more striking than calfskin, we explain how this material takes on its unique appearance...
There’s a certain appeal with alternative materials. Just ask the watch enthusiasts who buckle up straps made from crocodile, ostrich or even stingray leather. Or the knitwear fanatics who pull on pullovers woven from the wool of alpacas or Angora rabbits. Or, perhaps, ask heritage shoemaker Cheaney, one of the most-renowned names to prove the allure of the non-conventional by crafting a selection of its footwear from kudu leather.
Made from the hide of the kudu antelope – an extremely populous corkscrew-horn species native to the woodlands of east- and south-African countries such as Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe – this special water-resistant material is a sustainable by-product of the local meat industry, and, owing to the challenging climates in which the animals inhabit, it’s naturally hardy and durable, components that help make a perfect boot.
Yet, even with the tough makeup for which it is coveted, the leather lays claim to several other key characteristics. Notably, due to the kudu’s grazing patterns among thorny bushes and brush, their hides will often showcase scratches, scrapes and scars, creating a highly unique appearance across every inch of its exterior.
Moreover, despite its durable construction once again, the leather acquires a suppleness over time, a feature that not only allows for flexibility around the ankle (and, therefore, minimal break-in time), but will also facilitate the introduction of creases and grooves, adding even more character to the appearance.
Adding further layers to this already elegant aesthetic is the fact that the kudu leather features two contrasting qualities – a glossy finish and a pebbled texture. And, as is only natural for the brand, Cheaney draws its supply from one of the most prestigious tanneries in the UK, Charles F Stead and Co.
Of late, two Cheaney models – Irvine and Hurricane – make fine use of this idiosyncratic material. When it comes to the former, which is done out in a rich ‘whiskey’ hue, the robust, easy-to-wear factor is elevated higher, courtesy of a shearling-lined inner that locks in warmth and dials up the comfort. Brogue elements, such as decorative holes, simply complement the leather that's already rich in fine details, meanwhile the Brit Grip rubber sole, distinct for its Union Jack-influenced appearance and non-slip properties, is angled to combat the worst of the weather.
The military-style Hurricane is a little more pared-down in appearance, as it eschews embellishment for a cleaner profile. Of particular note here, too, is that the toe box is generous in shape and the toe spring is higher than those on other models, allowing for a comfortable tread even in the harshest of terrains. Owing to its throwback military-style appearance, this creation is suitable for wearing with rugged-looking items such as chore jackets and hard-working denim.
Marrying comfort with inherent durability, and tying them together with evergreen silhouettes and aesthetics, these boots are perhaps the ultimate winter footwear.
Cheaney kudu footwear
Want more from Cheaney? Read the label's ultimate guide to caring for suede shoes...
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