We’re tellin’ ya, folks: don’t sleep on waxed suede. Especially don’t sleep on C.F. Stead’s Waxy Commander.
Not only does Waxy Commander offer superior waterproof protection from the elements, but it also packs a serious patina punch as it wears in—a handsomely rugged package. In our continuing How Leathers Age series, today we’re shining the spotlight on this brilliant waxed suede, along with some excellent worn examples of Waxy Commander from the Stitchdown Patina Thunderdome.
C.F. Stead: A Northampton Powerhouse For Over 120 Years
It’s worth knowing the company behind Waxy Commander, and C.F. Stead is one that you’ve probably already heard of if you’re into high-quality suedes, or less-common leathers like kudu and deer.
The Charles F. Stead Tannery was established in the 1890s, and since 1904 it has been producing exceptional leathers in the Sheepscar Tannery in Northampton, England (the facility itself is nearly 200 years old!). Through the years, C.F. Stead has supplied many kinds of leather for the demands of different eras, from the rise in popularity of suede shoes, to the advent of the biker jacket, to the supplying of British troops’ garments during World War II, and beyond.
Waxy Commander came about in the 1990s, the result of a request from iconic English shoe brand Dr. Martens. They wanted a suede that would be rugged, hard-wearing, and waterproof. This leather checked all the boxes in such a way that C.F. Stead felt that name “Waxy Commander” was the most appropriate.
Waxy Commander’s unique tannage involves shrinking the hide to tighten its fiber structure (reducing the area of the hide by up to 25 percent). This strengthens the leather, making it more impermeable to the elements. In addition, the leather is heavily waxed during the tanning process, yielding a product that is not only waterproof but has a great depth of character. Like a grain leather with heavy pull-up, Waxy Commander handsomely reveals depth with every crease, and the top coat on this leather can scratch off a bit more easily than it does on waxed flesh, leaving it with a stubble-y texture.
How Tobacco Waxy Commander Ages
From day one of the Patina Thunderdome, the Tobacco Waxy Commander on these Grant Stone Edward Boots already began to patina. The waxes have begun to disperse just from the owner trying these boots on to see if they’d fit.
What’s crazy is that after just one month of wear, these things already look really well-worn.
The level of creasing and rubbed-off wax at the end of the Dome is tremendous.
How Wheatbuck Waxy Commander Ages
These Parkhurst Richmonds were recognized as the Exceptional Parkhurst Pair in the inaugural Patina Thunderdome. Like the previous example, this Wheatbuck Waxy Commander is easily showing every little scratch and scuff before it’s been properly worn.
Once again, with only a month of wear, the change becomes quite dramatic.
To be honest, the difference between the first and seventh month of wear isn’t that distinct, but that early patina was pretty damn good to begin with.
How Earth Waxy Commander Ages
Day one with these Grant Stone Chelseas is nothing crazy…
…but yet again, in just one month, they’ve completely transformed.
The Earth Waxy Commander lived up to its name. By the end of the contest, all the accumulated dirt and dust really made these look, well, earthy.
That old saying comes to mind: “the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long.” Indeed, you can tell fairly quickly where Waxy Commander’s patina journey is going to end up, and it can be difficult to push it much farther than how it looks after that first month of wear—but the character and complexity of the patina from that first month alone makes Waxy Commander quite the intriguing leather.
Do you think you can push Waxy Commander even further than what you’ve seen here? Pre-register for the next Patina Thunderdome with your own Waxy Commander pair!