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Ostrich and alligator leathers are examples of exotic leather that epitomizes luxury. Real Caiman and American alligator shoes are stunning works of art that combine the splendor of nature with the skills of man. Shoes such as loafers, cap toes, and lace-ups are investments that last a lifetime and are frequently handed down from father to son as family heirlooms. They may endure for decades if properly cared for.

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All of that sounds fantastic, but as most people know, there is a significant market for counterfeit shoes. On eBay, there are fake Gucci purses on sale that are more gummy than real. Then there is the always stunning “genuine man-made leather,” which is the antithesis of everything.

Make sure the shoes are legitimate before spending money on them if you plan to purchase authentic alligator shoes. After spending a significant amount of money, the last thing you want to happen is for your “real” alligator shoes to break three months after you get them.

But how can you know if a shoe claims to be authentic alligator or not?

Authentic Alligator Sneakers? Not by a long shot.

When you seek for fakes online, even the producers’ efforts seem a little lackluster. These shoes are the throwaway, low-cost equivalent of high-end shoes, designed for men who don’t dress up too much. Let’s clear the air with them.

They are composed of vinyl or plastic. Often, the leather texture is executed poorly. Absolutely not, not at all.

Fake alligator or crocodile shoes frequently weigh less because of a cheap synthetic sole and heel made of plastic that also looks poor. Even with the stitching, these soles are completely glued on and are not going to withstand the decades that real alligator shoes do, much alone a stroll down the aisle.

High-Grade Fakes? These are Five Qualities to Search for.

false alligator shoes begin extremely false and only get better, from the plastic to the printed leather and “almost genuine.” Enough so that some of the better imitations can only be distinguished by examining the actual shoe in person rather than an image.

The following characteristics of real alligator leather set it apart from imitations:

Examine the price label.

No matter who makes the real deal—Belvedere, Balenciago, Los Altos, Mezlan—there is no such thing as a cheap price tag on these shoes if they are brand-new. You will not see $50 Belvederes or $90 Los Altos. Since you’re paying for really fine, painstakingly made accessories, they don’t exist. A price tag affixed to an imitation is most likely less than $200.

Examine the interior.

The interior of real exotic leather shoes is lined with leather throughout. Numerous makers of knockoff shoes economize on the lining. While some use vinyl, others utilize pigskin of lower quality. Others even employ fabric. The maker of the actual thing never skimps on quality, thus this is one of the easiest ways to distinguish a real alligator shoe from a fake. A work of art of the highest caliber is the end result.

Examine the leather’s grain.

Large reptiles, such as crocodiles and alligators, are larger, more lanky variations of their smaller snake counterparts. Genuine alligator skin has a grain that is present by nature. Although high pressure-pressed cow leather imitations may resemble the original in many ways, they are unable to replicate the authentic reptile’s natural grain. Run your finger in one direction and then the other when in doubt. There will be a difference in how each feels.

Examine the sole.

A true alligator shoe has a highly polished, genuine leather sole. Real leather heels are piled and sculpted, and then the soles are hammered into place. Genuine alligators also have a little brass notification hammered into the sole or a “genuine alligator” stamp. You might want to seek elsewhere if a salesperson tells you it’s authentic but there isn’t a stamp.

Put them on and try.

A true alligator shoe is unlike anything other, whether it’s American or Caiman. Everything about these is excellent, from the lace holes and lining to the nails and stitching. The leather of pressed calf has a rigidity to it. It takes a few wears for the leather in pressed leather shoes to break down sufficiently to make them comfy. Conversely, genuine alligator is soft and comfy from the first to the final wear.

In actuality, comfort and quality cannot be faked.

They attempt, those imitative producers. They genuinely do. However, nothing compares to authentic alligator shoes. You’ll understand what distinguishes a real alligator once you’ve handled one, walked inside one, and smelled one. It is the sensation of entering a finely crafted, intentionally designed work of art.