Exotic leather has served as the beacon of true style and class for ages. From pebble grain calfskin to crocodile to ostrich, each type offers its own blend of distinct beauty and exclusivity. But one leather that deserves to be part of the conversation is bison leather.
Admittedly, knowledge of bison is somewhat limited across the U.S. despite its firm North American roots. In May, President Obama officially declared the bison America’s first national mammal, elevating it to bald eagle status. (But don’t worry-the bald eagle is still the national animal; it’s not a mammal.)
Bison hunting was a time-honored tradition thousands of years ago. Back then, fresh bison was used for a plethora of purposes. The bones were transformed into needles and tools. The horns were used for cups and utensils. Bison hide was a great material for tepee covers, bags, moccasins and even robes. And of course, the meat made for a delicious meal.
To date, the fitness community looks to ground bison for an extra source of protein. According to Livestrong, 3 ounces of bison contain four times the protein content of an egg.
But beyond its health benefits or the homegrown pride associated with it, bison lend themselves to another great purpose-men’s shoes and accessories. Bison leather is a remarkably strong leather that’s perfect for combating the everyday wear and tear of men’s footwear.
Aside from shoes, bison leather is used for a multitude of purposes in which durability is essential: military gear, outerwear and briefcases. Unlike cow leather, it holds up better over time and has a slight pebbly grain that hides scratches and gives it a rustic look.
Compared to cowhide, bison leather is actually 40% stronger and lasts for decades. It packs in serious strength that’s unmatched by other leathers. Another added benefit is a higher elasticity in bison leather. For those guys looking for quality shoes and accessories that will stand the ultimate test of time, look no further than this exotic leather.
How Bison Leather is Made
Despite the fact that bison leather is durable, it’s also still very soft with great breathability. This is made possible through a special vegetable leather tanning process. Tanning is the process of converting the raw hide to leather. In the bison vegetable tanning process, shells, twigs and natural barks are used to condition the leather and shrink down the grain. The shrinkage is necessary to accent the grain on the neck, back, belly and bump of the hides. Once this part of the process is done, beeswax and natural oils are added to soften the leather and give it a look of depth and richness. At TB Phelps, all of our shoes and bison accessories are made with bison leather produced at American tanneries.
Also, in comparing bison leather to cow leather, bison hides are smaller. But this is a good thing. Bison hides aren’t stretched during the production process in order to maintain their distinct grain patterns. This gives bison leather products their distinct look. No two bison leather products are exactly the same because the grain varies from hide to hide. This means you’re always guaranteed a one of a kind product-something you don’t experience with cow leather.
Caring for Bison Leather
While bison leather is more durable than other leathers, its longevity depends on proper care and cleaning. Bison leather shares several similarities with that of water buffalo. The skin is dense and contains resident oils that help protect the animal from water and bitter cold. After going through the tanning process, only a little additional care is needed to keep it looking great. Like any other leather product, some wax is necessary to protect it against the elements or restore it. Before you wax your shoes or accessories, be sure to use warm water and some mild soap to rinse off surface dirt and grime. Then, you can apply a light coat of shoe wax. However, it’s important to note that waxing isn’t something that’s needed often. Soap and water can be used to keep bison leather products clean the majority of the time. Wax when needed if restoring is necessary.
T.B. Phelps Bison Shoes & Accessories
At T.B. Phelps, we offer a wide selection of bison leather shoes and accessories to ensure you enjoy the benefits of bison regardless of your style preferences. From classic chukka boots to saddle shoes and drivers, we’ve crafted high-quality shoes, belts and wallets that will only get better with age.
Unlike other exotic leather, our bison leather is one that’s uniquely American grown. Shoes and accessories are an important purchase in a man’s wardrobe. You need options that will last for ages and never go out of style. Bison leather is an incredibly durable material that can weather the storm against anything you encounter. If you’re looking for a classic shoe, belt or wallet that offers outstanding quality, bison leather is the perfect choice for you.