We have been using different types of soles in our shoes for a very long time. Although we have heard a lot about self-cushioning soles made of rubber or leather; there is also another material which can be used. This is the renowned ‘Crepe sole’. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty and find out exactly what a crepe sole is.
These are often used to for softer soles.
So what exactly is a ‘Crepe sole’
Well, let’s try to keep it nice and simple.
Crepe soles are made using crepe rubber or plantation rubber. These soles are taken directly from nature. Just like any other man-made materials we have these days.
How is it Made?
Crepe soles are made from rubber.
This rubber is extracted from the bark of trees like the Para rubber tree.
Thin strips of the tree bark are peeled to allow the latex to be tapped. The latex that has been collected is then filtered and collected in huge basins.
The tapped latex is then coagulated to form a semi-solid substance using acetic acid. This substance is then later rolled into sheets using different machinery that separates water from the semi-solid substance.
The sheets are then rolled over multiple times and are hung out to dry for around 7 days. These sheets will then become slightly sticky, soft and crinkly.
They are then stuck together to form a solid thick sheet which is then used for cutting outsoles for Chukka boots. It is a long process but it gives this sole great outsole qualities, making it stand out from the rest of the outsoles.
As there are many different layers compacted together in a single sole, the soles offer high levels of durability and flexibility.
There are many different crepe soles available such as the ‘Estate Brown Crepe’ and ‘Pale Latex Crepe’. These have a different feel and texture when compared to the normal Crepe sole. However, the coagulation process is almost the same.
As mentioned earlier certain crepe rubber might be harder than others and might require a different process to help soften them. This all depends on the tree from where the latex is taken and its other qualities.
Crepe soles were first commonly associated with the well known Clarks Desert boots. Later, these soles were adapted and were used in various other shoes and boots. This is mainly because of their varied benefits which I have listed below for you.
Lightweight and Softer Soles
These soles are quite soft compared to various other soles. In addition to this, they are lightweight and are best suited for the indoors.
These soles are not expensive to produce. So when you are planning to buy a shoe with crepe soles, the cost of the shoes might be a little lower than anticipated.
These soles are soft and offer great levels of comfort. In addition to this, these shoes are extremely durable and flexible. They also act as great shock absorbent and provides the bounce you need throughout those long days.
Excellent Insulation and Dirt Proof
These soles offer superior insulation for your feet, they are great at retaining heat. Due to them being made up of so many layers. And unlike rubber shoes, these soles do not get dirty easily. With age, these shoes will look great on you.
Though there are a lot of benefits of crepe sole, there are two major disadvantages.
A lot of people find the texture of these soles very sticky due to its crinkly texture. In addition to this, these soles are very flimsy when compared to rubber soles.
Not Ideal for the Outdoors
These soles are meant to be used indoors. They are not a great option for outdoors and will eventually break down if they are used extensively outdoors.
Traction and Wear
Many people find that grip isn’t the best. If the floor surface is wet then you could end up slipping due to the outsoles traction. The crepe soles will break down and wear out if constantly worn outdoors.
Crepe tends to react in extreme conditions such as the hot and cold weather. When cold the material can freeze and harden which can be tough to walk on. In the heat, the soles can soften up and in scorching temperatures, they can begin to melt.
Caring for Crepe Soles
Since crepe soles are made from a plant; they need care just like your animal leather soles.
Do not expose these soles to extreme temperatures or environmental conditions. They will change due to the temperatures outside.
Even though these shoes are durable we need to make sure that they do not come in contact with gasoline or similar solvents as this can cause damage to the surface of the soles.
Just remember, these soles just like any other sole would need to be looked after and cleaned so that they don’t lose their enticing properties.
Differences Between a Natural Crepe and Artificial Crepe
Natural genuine crepe soles are soft and have a crinkly texture. They feel extremely porous and tend to have a distinct smell to them.
These natural crepe soles are usually a light honey brown color or a yellowish white color. Sometimes they are even dyed black by the manufactures to give their iteration of the boot or shoe a unique look.
However artificial crepe does not have any of these salient features and is often devoid of these. A lot of manufacturers use this artificial crepe as they are cheaper and easier to manufacture.
Since these soles are quite porous, they tend to get dirty over a period of time. In addition, the light color of these soles tends to darken over time due to the nature of the material.
So, special cleaning tips must be followed to care and clean these soles.
Grease removing detergents can be used to remove the dirt from these soles. However, care should be taken to ensure that you do not apply it to the upper leather. As it will damage the leather.
Instead, use a brush to remove coarser dirt stuck in your soles. Make sure you do not use solvents such as turpentine or enamel remover. These solvents will damage these soles beyond repair. Which could potentially result in a dirtier sole than the one you started with. As the solvent will break the surface of the sole.
Shoes That Use Crepe Soles
These soles are slowly gaining in popularity and are now widely being used in many shoes. Shoes such as desert boots with crepe soles are usually the go to.
Other shoes such as the Sanders Hi-top also uses these crepe soles as it helps compliment the attractive leather upper.
The Black Grisha boots feature a yellowing white crepe sole with a black upper unit and are the epitome of warmth, style, and comfort. Which are ideal for those casual days.
There are multiple options if you are planning to buy a shoe with crepe soles. So think about which outfits you will be wearing them with and pick one that suits you.
Iconic Crepe Sole Pieces
To Boot New York Men’s Baldwin Suede Shoes with Monk Strap & Crepe Sole
To Boot New York Men’s Atlas Leather Chelsea Boots with Crepe Sole
To Boot New York Men’s Banker Suede Chukka Boots with Crepe Sole
Fin & Feather Men’s 9″ Pile-Lined
There’s plenty of great shoes available now with crepe outsoles. Find what would work for you and purchase a pair for your wardrobe.