On this day in 1818, Seth Boyden (of Newark, New Jersey) began commercial production on patent leather for shoes, boots, and other accessories.
Boyden wanted to create a dressier leather and did some experiments to see what would look and feel good. He found that, by giving fine-grained leather a series of linseed-oil-based treatments, he could create a shiny black leather. His glossy new form of leather quickly became popular for formal dress.
Although today Boyden's linseed-oil treatment has been replaced by synthetic resins (in other words, a variety of plastic finishes), today patent leather is still popular. Note that there are shoes and accessories created from non-leather materials, such as plastic and faux leather, that are shiny and that look and feel somewhat like patent leather. Some vegetarians may prefer these synthetic materials, but some people feel that they are a cheap substitute for real patent leather.
It's a matter of material...
Here are some of the materials that are commonly made into clothing and accessories:
furs and skins, cotton, flax (linen), wool, silk, down (feathers), and human-made (synthetic) fibers such as nylon, polyester, and spandex
Here are some less-common clothing materials:
bamboo, hemp, jute, recycled plastic, rubber, paper, and soy
And of course shoes and bags and other accessories may be made out of many more materials, including wood, bone, rigid plastic, rope, and on and on...
Recycle your clothing!
Hand clothes down, make a quilt, or do some of these craft projects.