One difficulty that the growing online retailing of shoes poses for both stores and customers is the rendering of the colour of the shoes. The shade of leather, if not black, can vary greatly depending on light and situation, and can also differ between hides and batches.


A very common question is “which picture shows the colour of the shoes most correctly?”. The person may have seen different pictures at different retailers, or compare pictures in an online store with what he or she has seen on Instagram, or similar. The answer is likely that all pictures show the colour correctly. They show the colour of the shoes in the current light from the current angle in the current environment. It can be enough to spin 180 degrees for the leather to look completely different, not to mention the difference between a pair of brown leather shoes in dim indoor lighting compared to strong sunlight outdoors.

These dark, oxblood coloured shoes are the same pair from Yohei Fukuda as the once that look very red in the top picture.

In a different light they look almost purple.

While they here look more of a traditional, darker burgundy.

If you buy shoes in a store or at a cobbler, there are rarely any big problems, you see them in the light of the store, and if you walk towards the window you have them in daylight, in short, rarely a surprise for how they become when you start wearing them. When you order from an online store without seeing the shoes in reality, however, it’s a different situation.

So what I want to put focus on here is that even though most online stores do their best to take “representative” product photos of the shoes, one can’t say that you will experience them exactly in the colour presented there. What makes it all the more difficult is that the dyeing of leather is not a static process, it’s living materials that are made in batches, and the shades of the shoes, even if the factory works to get them in a fixed direction, can still vary a lot. It’s also common that factories change tanneries over the years as well, you order the same shades from the new tanneries, but of course it can vary. And it’s not that you can take new pictures of every new batch of shoes a store receives (after all, you probably still have shoes left from previous batches). Then I have not even mentioned parameters such as image editing, variations on the screens of phones or computers, that people in many cases perceive colours differently, that clothes and the environment affect how the shades look, and so on.

A pair of TLB Mallorca Artista oxfords in the shade Vegano Dark Brown. Here outside in cloudy weather, where they look pretty dark with a hint of red.

On our product photos at Skolyx they look like this, a bit less dark. Pictures: Skolyx

On TLB’s own product photos they look rather dark and with no red it in. Picture: TLB Mallorca


Another retailer, Patine, have product photos where they look much brighter in the shade. Picture: Patine

Here it's of course logical that they look dark, in a dim studio light. Picture: Skolyx

Here it’s of course logical that they look dark, in a dim studio light. Picture: Skolyx

Here’s a pic of the same model taken by a customer, where they look somewhere in between all of the above ones.

Therefore, as a customer, if you shop remotely you simply have to be prepared that the shoes can be experienced differently from what you imagined. If you take them to another light it may change to something closer to what you had in mind, but you understand the point. If the shoes are something that you did not count on and that you don’t like, you can send the shoes back, but do not be annoyed at those who sold the shoes, they have actually shown the color correctly, they too.

Here’s a picture I have taken of one of The Sabot’s new models from Amblier, in a colour they call Espresso calf. Here it looks mid red brown, a bit chestnutty.

Product picture from The Sabot of the same model, where it instead is perceived as rather straight forward dark brown.

Here it’s once again more red, slightly metallic in the shade.

Red brown.

Dark brown. Pictures: The Sabot