If you have ever gone shopping online for a pair of real alligator shoes, you may have had an eye watering moment when it came to the prices that these fine shoes sell for. When it comes to luxury good, you can have no reason not to include alligator shoes on that list with other expensive luxury goods like fine watches and designer hand bags. What makes a product pricey is not just one reason, it may be several reasons why a certain type of product costs plenty. Alligator shoes go right into the latter because there are several reasons why they are pricey. It isn't just a fancy label sewn into the shoes.
The first reason that alligator shoes are pricey like Mauri shoes is the cost of the actual alligator skin itself. You can't just get alligator skin at any leather mill out there if you even know where there are leather mills to begin with. These fine reptile skins are only processed at certain leather mills that specialize in reptile skin tanning. Because these skins are essentially different from cowhide, you can't tan them the same way using the same exact tanning chemicals which is essence, cures the skins from deteriorating if not tanned and cured for use. The tanneries that create the alligator skins are experts in how to tan these fine skins and also bring out all of the best features of the skin as well that your basic leather tannery is not equipped or experienced in. They may do a fantastic job of tanning cowhide but they won't know how to do the same thing with alligator skins. Just removing the skin from the alligator is altogether different process than skinning a cow. There is great care that needs to go into skinning an alligator and different processes and chemicals so the skin doesn't get damaged in the process. It is far more fragile than the more resilient cowhide. Alligator skin requires many steps that traditional cow leather does not. Steps like liming that removes the natural greases and fats that are naturally in the alligator skin. The liming process also softens the skin as well making it a bit easier to work with. After the liming comes the deliming which in effect raises the acidity in the alligator skin after the liming initally lowered it. The deliming also breaks down the bone and scales the skin has as well making it easier to work with. The next phase is called pickling which if effect cures the skin completely and turns the skin into a leather where it can be finished next. Since time is money, this dramatically affects the cost of the skin in comparison to your common cowhide.
Supply is and has always been an issue when it comes to alligator skins to be made into shoes. Alligators are wild reptiles and have protection rights so they are not over hunted and don't go extinct in the process. Only so many alligators per year are allowed to be killed for their meat and skin since they are not raised like cattle. Because of the limited supply of alligator skins available, there are only so many that can be tanned to begin with driving the costs sky high in comparison to cowhide leather. Only real American alligators can be considered alligator skin instead of caiman or crocodile in which there are differences.
Alligator skin is also very difficult to work with in comparison to cowhide leather and often breaks the needles on the same machines that make leather shoes. The workers who create these alligator shoes must have years and years of shoe making experience before they can even be considered for making alligator shoes. The shoe maker also must have experience in utilizing the alligator skin to make the most of the scales and matching the scales for each individual pair of shoes. Since the scales on an alligator skin are different in size depending on the location of the skin, the shoe maker must take extreme care to use identical parts of the skin so the scales on the left shoe and right shoe are similar in size and appearance. Without doing so,you will have a pair of alligator shoes that has small scales on one shoe and large different looking scales on the other shoe. Not a very good match. In many ways, dealing with alligator shoes is quite similar to diamond makers who use their skill and knowledge to bring out the very best of the diamond. The same thing is true with alligator skins that are used for making shoes. The lesser pieces of skin may be used for smaller products such as wallets or belts if there are slight flaws in the skin that would show up on a pair of shoes.
Since all of this effort has gone into the tanning and sorting of the skins, Making the shoes itself is also a consideration. The men and women who make alligator shoes usually have a couple decades of shoe making experience under their belt and make these shoes entirely by hand. They are usually made in small work shops and not some huge shoe factory in China. That is why most of these fine shoes are made in Italy and Spain where they have a long tradition in fine shoe making. Since these alligator shoes are made by hand, you're not going to see inferior material used in cost cutting like what is done with mass market type shoes. Everything will be made of fine leathers that is not alligator skin to begin with. The interior of the shoes will be completely lined in glove leather which is the only way that any luxury shoe should be lined with. Anything less than a full leather lining is junk for a well made pair of shoes like alligator. The shoe sole itself will also be made of full leather that is thick and durable. Shoe sole leather that you can tell has been hand carved and finished to be made into shoe soles. You will see small brass nails on the shoe sole and stacked leather heel as well belying the fact that these are hand made shoes and weren't spit out of some factory. All of these fine details takes time and time always cost money in terms of man hours which is why alligator shoes are pricey and always will be.