Leather has been viewed as a luxurious product for the last few decades, used in many ways to present an image of wealth and luxury. Leather car seats, leather couches, leather shoes, leather in jewelry. The average person will have about four leather items on them at any given time — these include belts, wallets, shoes, watch straps and other items. I know that between my belt, wallet, and necklace I have at least three leather items on at all times, so there is some truth to that fact.
However, the addition of leather makes things more expensive, that’s a fact. Leather shoes are more expensive than standard shoes, as they are usually viewed as a formal item. Leather belts are more expensive than cloth belts, as are leather wallets compared to cloth wallets. There are even special, more exotic, types of leather. Things like python skin, stingray leather, crocodile hides are those that fall under the “other” category of leather. These differ from most luxury purchases due to their exotic nature, only amounting to 1% of the total profits of leather sales. Then there’s special makes of these items: luxury Italian leather shoes, luxury ostrich skin boots, men’s eel skin shoes, and far, far, more.
It’s a little crazy what you can make shoes out of, isn’t it?
But who buys these things? Well, on average more women tend to buy than men, but the male market is growing fast. Men’s leather dress shoes account for more than 6% of shoe market sales, and that saw a retail sales growth of 39% from 2009 to 2014. About 23% of the U.S. population, or 75 million people, qualify as millennials, and young men are an especially key consumer base for personal accessories. These men are spending more on their fashion than previous generations. In fact, men make up 40% of global sales, and their luxury spending grew nearly twice as fast as women’s spending power in 2011.
This means more sales of men’s formal wear, which means more leather footwear, more leather belts, more leather wallets. Why? Because men, like women, value making a positive first impression. They value their appearance, especially in a career- and social media-driven society where everything one does is online and available for their employer to see. And psychology studies show that first impressions are formed within 7 to 17 seconds of a first meeting and that 55% of an opinion is determined by physical appearance alone.
That’s a lot of pressure to look good all the time, you never know who you’ll meet.