Alligator shoes are completely made by hand.
Alligator shoes for are not just men's shoes made out
of alligator skin or reptile skin. How they are made is simply more fascinating once you learn about the process. The craftsmanship
that goes into making a pair of alligator shoes for men are simply above and
beyond what you would ever find in a pair of mass-market shoes. These
shoes take along time to make with all of the additional steps that just
aren't used on factory shoes. Steps like hand cutting and matching the
alligator skins for each part of the upper. The sleek designs are
Italian style and more.
The men and women who handcraft these fine reptile shoes have been doing so for at the very minimum 10 years. That is how long they need to be hand making shoes in the Italian methods. Many of the craftsmen that make alligator footwear have been doing so for dozens of years. They usually have been making regular leather dress shoes for a dozen years by hand before they are even allowed to make any of the exotic reptile shoes.
The shoemaker needs years of experience to make alligator dress shoes.
Each alligator skin is completely scrutinized for its texture and scales and any defects before a single blade touches the skin. Because of the rarity of alligators themselves, only a certain number are allowed to be killed each year for their skins and their meat. It is the primary reason that out of all of the exotic animal skin shoes, alligator shoes are generally the most expensive reptile skin shoes available and why they are prized above all others including crocodile shoes. Even if you take the very same style of shoe and make one out of alligator skin and one out of crocodile skin, the cost of the alligator skin being pricier will make the alligator shoes more expensive that the crocodile shoes.
Once the skins are chosen for the particular style, The shoe maker starts to take cardboard or paper forms and lays them down on the skin to start cutting up the alligator skin into the designated shoe pieces that make the upper part of a shoe. This is a very slow and tedious process because one small mistake will ruin the piece of the skin and that piece of the skin won't match the other pieces of skin that are going to be used for that particular pair of alligator skin. No mistakes are allowed.
If you have ever noticed that some reptile church shoes have large scales used on them and some have smaller scales used. This is at the discretion of the shoe designer himself. The shoe designer designates how the shoe is supposed to look and in some shoes, they want to use larger scales from the skin, and other styles, the designer feels that the smaller scales will generate that look that he/she is going for.
Let's say the shoe being created is perhaps a sleek wingtip style, It is more likely that smaller scale pieces of the alligator skin will be used for the upper part of the shoe. Now if the shoe is going to have a plain toe style, It is more likely that the designer will choose the bigger scales of the skin to be used to highlight the fact that these shoes are fine alligator men shoes. Sometimes the scales will arranged in a straight manner and other times the scales will diagonal on a pair of men's alligator shoes.
Once all of the pieces are cut for that particular pair of gator skin shoes, It is now time to start putting the pieces of this reptile puzzle together. The shoe artisan starts to sew all the pieces of the alligator skin together to form the outside upper part of the shoe. The left shoe and the right shoe. These shoes are all made one pair at a time.
The next step is the glove leather lining of the shoes that needs to cut, measured and sewn together. In exotic skin shoes the leather is usually very thin and fine calfskin leather which is known for it's fine and supple texture and comfort when they are used as a shoe lining. It is often the very same leather that is used in the making of the very best leather gloves.
Now once the leather lining has been completed, it's time to put the lining together with the outside alligator upper. These are sewn together and then put on a special form called a shoe last which gives the shoes their distinctive shape. The lasts change from year to year and many times style to style. A wood artisan usually hand carves these shoe forms to create the actual shape of the shoe. A pair of shoes lasts needs to be made for each and every size that the shoes are going to be made in.
Once the full upper part is put onto the shoe lasts, they need to settle and form to that shoe last shape. Usually over night. While that is going on, the soles of these fine luxury shoes need to be created. Yes created. The shoe craftsman takes heavy duty shoe sole leather and starts measure out how many shoe soles are going to cut out of this thick durable leather. He/She takes a steel shoe sole cutter which is like a cookie and cutter and carefully places it on the shoe leather where they take a hammer and cut out the leather soles of the shoes to be used for these alligator shoes. The same process is used for making the stacked leather heels as well.
Once this is done. the craftsman takes the pieces of the heel and glues them together. and takes the sole which may be a couple layers of shoe sole and glues them together as well. Once they heel and sole are dry, it is time to take them and glue the heel to the sole and use small brass nails as well for a more secure fit as well as add some hand made style to the shoe soles. It's a subtle reminder that these gators were made by hand. Usually a small brass plaque is nailed to the shoe sole as well stating that the shoes are genuine reptile skin shoes.
Now that this is done, it is time to get the shoe uppers ready for the soles. This requires using many small nails that are nailed into the bottom perimeter of the shoe and then bent over providing a stable surface of the bottom of the shoes before the hand carved and crafted leather sole is be sewn into place. On most alligator loafer shoes, the Blake Method of construction is used to attach the sole to the upper part of the shoes. The Blake method is usually used because it provides a sleeker look for the shoe than say the Goodyear Welt method.
The craftsman takes the upper which is now upside down and places it onto the shoe sole sewing machine and slowly sews the leather sole onto the upper of the shoe. There are two method of attaching the shoe sole to upper and that depends on the style of shoe. Some leave the stitch work visible and some shoe soles have the stitch work rendered invisible. On this method, the perimeter of the shoe sole is carefully sliced and slightly pulled back and then sewn onto the upper. This is a slow and tedious method and you will generally see this done on only the very best and expensive alligator lace-up shoes. It's a step that takes a very long time and it is the reason that most alligator shoes don't have it used because of the dramatic man hours it would add to the cost of the shoes. Once this is done, the pulled back part of the sole is then pressed and glued back into place.
Now if you thought at this point that they would be ready for the market place, you would be incorrect. Depending on the style of the shoe, It is time for for the finish. Although the alligator skins used are already dyed and cured, depending on the style of the shoe, they may have extra finish on them. The finish can range from a simple wax polish from either a clear color or the color of the shoes, to a burnished finish. The shoes may even have a seem edge finish that is burnished as well for a unique or stylish look.
Some alligator designer footwear that go toward the more trendy look will have a hand painted finish that the shoe artisan does by carefully and gently using a special leather paint to bring out the scales of the alligator leather and high light texture that skin has. It is sort of like using a contrasting color grout on a tile floor to draw more attention to the scales and texture. Sometimes it seems to give the shoes an almost two tone look. It is usually done on light colors such as tan with brown contrast or grey with a black or off black contrast.
On a burnished finish, the artisan will take steps to employ the extra polish or even a leather dye to give the shoes a burnished look. The burnished look can be as simple as a darker shade of polish added to the toe cap of the shoe. Sometimes a flame is used from a Bunsen burner to give the alligator leathers a certain look that the designer created for the style of that particular mens shoes.
Once this extra finishing and polishing is completed, the items are all lined up and are ready to sorted and boxed ready to be shipped to the distributor that will then ship them to special store that sells high-end shoes for style minded men such as AlligatorBoss.com.