Exclusive hunting suede from a German tannery

Our barefoot shoes are made mostly of very thin and fine leathers. One exception is our exclusive hunting suede. For our premium barefoot shoes of the SENMOTIC series, we order 2.6 mm thick hunting suede from a German tannery according to our own quality specifications. By the way, “hunting” does not mean, that the animal for the leather was hunted. Hunting suede can be used from both sides. One side has a polished velvety surface. The other has a fine grain. So the shoes can become true designer pieces by varying which side of the leather shows outward. Because our 2.6 mm hunting suede is exceptionally thick, we need no metal lace loops or inner lining. Your feet are clad in a thick leather skin. We give these exclusive hunting suede barefoot shoes from our SENMOTIC series only to regular customers.

Our ballerinas are made of delicate Black Angus leather. The leather is very thin and has a very soft sheen. We also use Black Angus leather and a dark Brown Angus leather for our business shoes.

Our classic and premium series, however, feature an interesting mix of leathers. For these barefoot shoes we use fine suede combined with soft napa leather or more robust box cowhide. Our winter barefoot shoes are made of more fat-rich and water-repellent nubuck leather, combined with a stronger type of box cowhide. Nubuck and suede are sometimes called full-grain or buckskin leather.

The organic leather swindle: a stern look at the chemical reality

As the German market leader for hand-made barefoot shoes, we are always in the field, testing different materials. We looked really close at mineral tanning and vegetable tanning and dealt with the matter. After careful examination, we decided against fake organic leather and chose mineral-tanned leather.

1. Real vegetable-tanned leather damages the environment. Real natural bark tanning takes about 20-30 months. That alone is completely unaffordable. For a single hide, you need 30 kg of bark, 20 kg of fruits or 90 kg of oak wood. Imagine using 90 kg of oak wood for a single 5 m² cowhide! Since such large amounts are used, the residue pollutes the waste water.

2. Nowadays, some vegetable tanning agents are also produced chemically or artificially. What this has to do with “natural” is pretty dubious. Prior to vegetable tanning, synthetic pre-tanning agents are used to speed up the traditional process. Afterwards, they often retan the leather with more chemicals. To give a soft texture to leather, they add synthetic acrylic acid (and the whole process is still legally called “vegetable tanning”). The dying process is also synthetic. So if you believe vegetable-tanned leathers are completely free of chemicals, you’re riding a dead horse. (At least it still has real “natural” leather.)

3. Right now, quebracho and mimosa are the most used tanning agents for organic leathers. To harvest quebracho in South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay), you need to chop down the quebracho trees. There is no sustainable reforesting afterwards. So they raze the forest. Then they also keep monoculture plantations of these trees. To make space, they simply cut down more forests. And then, they transport the tanning agents across thousands of kilometers.

We did our own experiments with the skins of a German company and found the following outcomes in our Senmotic barefoot shoes:

  • Vegetable-tanned leather gives off visible color stains, which can discolor your skin and clothing.
  • This leather is less light-resistant. After only 3-4 months, our shoes were no longer black, just grey.
  • The vegetable leather looked spotty and greasy on the inside after a very short while.
  • Rain caused unsightly water stains, which were very hard to remove.
  • Our shoes lost their shape over time and looked like worn-out house slippers.

Now if you say: “Well, but I have organic leather shoes, and they don’t have these issues.” We have to say very clearly: In most cases, you probably don’t have genuine, strictly vegetable-died leather shoes. You trusted misleading manufacturer information. Or your leather is vegetable-tanned but still contains many chemical substances. For example, vegetable-died leather contains formaldehyde. The World Health Organisation and the International Agency for Research on Cancer classify formaldehyde as carcinogenic for humans.

By the way, vegetable-tanned leather has very wide pores to ensure breathability. So it’s a contradiction to claim, as often is done, that “organic” leather is also very water-repellent.   “Organic leather” is not a protected label. Any manufacturer can call their leather shoes “organic”. And many do!

The renowned German consumer protection journal “Öko-Test” also came to a disastrous conclusion. Many starter shoes for toddlers made of “genuine vegetable-tanned” leather contain numerous chemicals. In addition to carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), formaldehyde and skin-irritating chlorocresol, there were many other chemicals in this so-called organic leather. Two products weren’t even allowed to be sold.

As you see in our web shop, we offer maximum transparency. So we tell you openly: Yes, we use mineral-tanned leather. Mineral-tanned leather has the following qualities making it, in our opinion, superior to organic leathers:

  • Light-resistance – this leather fades much less in the sun and keeps its color a long time.
  • This leather repels water better. Water stains from puddles and snow are very easy to remove.
  • This leather is easier to care for and usually looks like new after being cleaned.
  • This leather keeps its shape longer.
  • Mineral-tanned leather can be refined further. For example, by adding a used look effect.

By now, the EU policies are so strict, that you don’t really have any health effects to fear. The mass media just like to bridge the summer slump by spreading horror stories. Real scandals usually concern the large corporations, who buy their leather from India and Bangladesh to maximize profits. Unfortunately, this also affects a large share of the barefoot shoe market. When “German” or “European” vendors produce their leather in India and China, it’s clear that they don’t just transport it from Germany, Italy or Portugal to Asia to process it there. They like to claim so, but it’s totally contradictory. The costs would be so high that they could produce it in Germany right away.

Like all our materials, our fine premium leathers come from a German company in the town of Pirmasens. Our premium hunting suede is made and finished exclusively for us in a German tannery according to our own specifications.


Vegan barefoot shoes


We regularly have requests for vegan barefoot shoes. Those vegans also usually feel compelled to tell us that they eat no meat. We find that amusing. After all, no one ever ordered a barefoot shoe from us adding: “By the way, I like steak. Are your shoes made of real leather?” Let us make one thing clear: Leather is a waste product. The meat of cattle is much more valuable than the hide; there’s not a single herd trotting through the Argentinian pampas just for the leather. If we, and many other producers, did not use the leather, there would be huge pile-ups of leather hides in Argentina, or even in Germany, which would need to be burned in large factories, causing lots of pollution. Even if all the world stopped using leather suddenly, this would change nothing about the farming methods. Our opinion is: If so many people like to eat meat, leaving over millions of leather hides, then let’s at least make (barefoot) shoes out of them at our workshop.

In our experience, there is currently no alternative to leather. Imitation leather and mesh have far inferior qualities to leather. They’re pure plastic, basically. Plastic keeps the shape it was cast or pulled into. Or does your drinking cup adjust to your mouth or your pen to your hand? Plastic in shoes quickly causes chafes, blisters and open sores on your feet. One of our competitors boasts that their shoes are made of recycled PET. PET is also used for coke bottles. It’s up to you, whether you’d like to wear barefoot shoes made of soda bottles on your feet. Of course, such shoes are waterproof. Unfortunately, they’re also air proof. That’s why imitation leather shoes make your feet sweat horribly really fast. Manufacturers using this inferior material often add breathable mesh to ventilate your feet. Unfortunately, this also “irrigates” your feet. So you can look at it how you like, there’s no way around leather for making barefoot shoes, if you value quality.