· By Casey Rutledge

What is Shearling

We're in love with shearling, and we think you're going to be too. Which is why we're bringing one of natures miracle materials to the core of our shoes. Allow us to properly introduce you to everything shearling has to offer.


Shearling 101: How Shearling is Made

Shearling is crafted through a meticulous process where the skin of a sheep or lamb is tanned with the wool still attached. This involves carefully treating and conditioning the hide to preserve its natural softness, durability, and insulation properties, while ensuring the wool remains plush and intact.

The result is a dual-sided material that showcases leather on one side and soft, dense wool on the other, ready to be fashioned into high-quality footwear and apparel that stands the test of time. This process highlights shearling's distinctiveness from other wool-based materials, making it a premium choice in the footwear and fashion.

There are a handful of ways to identify differences between genuine shearling and its doppelgängers, but first, let's tell you why it even matters.


What Makes Shearling Stand Out

Shearling stands out in the world of footwear and fashion for its aesthetic, but also because of its functionality and blend of benefits.

Superior Warmth

Shearling's natural wool fibers trap air, providing exceptional insulation against cold air, while maintaining breathability.  


It naturally wicks away moisture from the skin, keeping feet dry and comfortable in various weather conditions.


Shearling is known for its resilience and longevity, able to withstand wear and tear better than many synthetic alternatives.


Unlike synthetics, shearling allows air to circulate, preventing the buildup of bacteria and odors for a fresher footwear experience. 

Natural Comfort

The softness and plushness of shearling offer unmatched comfort, adapting to the shape of the foot for a customized fit.


As a natural material, shearling is a more sustainable choice compared to petroleum-based synthetics, aligning with eco-conscious fashion choices.


Spotting the Real Deal: Genuine Shearling vs. Alternatives

Shearlings unique combination of leather or skin on one side and wool fleece on the other make its quality second to none. Here’s how you can tell the difference and ensure you're getting the real deal:

Texture and Feel

Genuine shearling feels soft and plush to the touch. The wool side should feel dense and fluffy, while the leather side should be smooth and supple. Alternatives, like synthetic sherpa or faux wool, often feel less natural and can sometimes have a plastic-like texture.

Warmth and Breathability

Real shearling offers unmatched warmth and breathability, adjusting to your body temperature. Faux alternatives might provide warmth but lack the ability to regulate temperature, leading to discomfort or overheating.

Look at the Base

Genuine shearling will have leather at its base since it’s the skin of the sheep or lamb. Faux versions usually have a woven or knitted base, clearly distinct from the natural leather backing of real shearling.

Water Absorption

If you drop a small amount of water on genuine shearling, it will absorb quickly due to its natural fibers. Synthetic materials tend to repel water or absorb it more slowly.

Price and Durability

Genuine shearling often comes at a higher price point, reflecting its durability and natural origins. While faux materials might be cheaper, they typically don't offer the same longevity or wear as gracefully over time.

If you need an even deeper comparison of genuine shearling and its alternatives you can read our shearling v sherpa guide.  


The Comfort of Shearling

Shearling is initially designed to have an overly plush or snug fit and appearance. You’ll notice a natural pack-down period as shearling is worn, creating more space as your foot settles in. However, you won't have to worry about shearling packing down into oblivion.

During the pack-down period, the shearling compresses, taking the shape of your foot and becoming more compact and comfortable. The resilience of shearling fibers allows the material to keep its life and return over time. 


Shearling is Easy to Care For

Wool contains lanolin, which is antimicrobial, preventing the buildup of bacteria. Lanolin’s effects help make for an odor-resistant experience and block dirt and stains from being absorbed. Wool has self-cleaning characteristics making upkeep more manageable than synthetic materials. 


Shearling Insoles

With all the attractions that shearling has to offer, we've made an insole so comfortable that it speaks for itself. Check out our Shepard Insoles and enjoy a taste of what makes shearling our go to choice for an upgraded footwear experience.