Long goes the time when garments were primarily worn for their functional aspect. Nowadays, to an extent, everything revolves much more about aesthetic and presentation. However, there’s one item that still maintains its original intent and always will: shoes.
From all the items which comprise your wardrobe, footwear is probably the one most subject to stress on a daily basis. The everyday wear takes a huge toll on your shoes, even if at times, we can’t seem to notice it. Apart from moisture and repetitive movements that crease and degrade the leather uppers, soles are constantly under pressure from your body weight and in contact with all kinds of hazardous surfaces. It comes to no surprise that they’re the first element of the shoe to require adequate maintenance from professionals.
Sure, rotating your stock daily and leaving them to rest with proper cedar shoe trees drastically increases their lifespan and durability, but there’s little you can do to avoid sole damage. Recently, I had to have two of my favourite pairs repaired as the leather soles were dangerously worn out, exposing the stitching and making them devoid of grip. Upon taking them to my local cobbler and prior to undergoing a full resoling, we decided to apply a protective Vibram layer to safeguard the stitching and increase grip. Available in a variety of colors to ensure a perfect match with the original, you can get the job done for a mere 12€ at your local cobbler…
Pampering your footwear - part 2
On the first post I covered buffing and all the elements that should comprise an adequate shoe care kit. Truth be told, buffing will keep your shoes looking like a million bucks but it isn’t enough to prolong their lifetime. Like the rest of your body, feet also release moisture and sweat throughout the day, which is ultimately absorved by the leather in your shoes. Eventually some of that moisture evaporates, but not entirely, leaving your footwear wrinkled and off their original shape. Last but not the least, retained moisture is responsible for smelly shoes as it leads to the appearance of sweat-eating bacteria.
As you can imagine, the current trend of going sockless just makes it all worse, since there is no fabric between your skin and the leather to absorb the sweat. Thus, you need to know how to tackle this issue. I’ve heard about all kinds of tricks to eliminate moisture: the traditional baby powder (more appropriate for sneakers), shoe deodorant sprays and even placing them in the freezer (the cold kills the bacteria). Sneakers aside, the best solution available for your leather kicks is Cedar Shoe Trees: these wooden accessories are shaped like a foot and come in a variety of models and size/width combinations. I recommend you go for the split-toe model as it adapts better to the shape of the shoe than the standard model. You are sure to find several brands, but Woodlore has been pointed as the place to go as they have been providing all kinds of cedar made products for your wardrobe since 1987 (take a look at their hangers).
The result is amazing…the moment you place them into the shoe you’ll immediately notice how it stretches to assume the original position, completely wrinkle-free. Also the aromatic cedar will fully absorb the moisture and leave a fresh fragance. This will enable your footwear to look perfect and stay healthy throughout their (extended) lifetime. For best results avoid wearing the same pair of shoes many days in a row, rotate your wearing and leave them to rest with the shoe trees in.
This may very well be some of the best 30€ you’ll ever spend. Give it a try!
The standard model.
The split-toe model (recommended).
Pampering your footwear - part 1
For the last year or so, I’ve been experiencing a growing passion for high quality handcrafted men’s shoes. I have always been passionate about my footwear, even when I was younger and my repertoire consisted mainly of sneakers and high tops. I still keep and sport them on occasion, but as my personal style mutated and evolved into what it is today, I’m more and more drawn to proper leather shoes of all sorts. I believe this love for shoes was set off by the very first (exquisite) pair I bought: dark brown oxfords by Sir Paul Smith (what a leap from Adidas sneakers).
As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, shoes are an investment that can last you for decades if properly taken cared, a worthy investment according to “fashion math” since the expensive price tag will pay for itself considering the amount of times you’ll wear them in 10 or so years (plus what you save by not having to buy other pairs). Driven by a habit of maintaining my belongings in mint condition (I do it with everything, not just clothes) and the fact that my shoe collection is becoming somewhat respectable, I decided to invest in a shoe care kit. Well, mine isn’t actually a kit, I purchased each item separately and built my own, but you can find them ready to use in a variety of places. The basic components you should look for are:
- Shoe Horn (doesn’t care for your shoes, but a necessity nonetheless);
- Wax/Shoe Lotion (the essential)
- Application Brushes (to properly apply the wax/lotion)
- Horsehair Buffing Brushes (to make them shine)
- Suede Brush (specially designed for suede shoes)
- Small brush to clean the dirt that accumulates in the edge of the sole (an old toothbrush will do the trick)
- Soft Cloth (the finishing touch)
A shoe care kit by Paul Smith:
On top of these you should add newspaper. This is crucial not to make a mess of your house; you don’t want shoe wax on your floor, carpet, sofa, etc. Before the whole process, make sure to spread the paper sheets across the floor to prepare a bedding for your buffed shoes. Instead of explaining step by step, I’ll leave it to the fine gents over at Allen Edmonds to show you how to do it:
You should face shoe polishing as a relaxing ritual: I do it once a week while watching my favourite shows on TV. Give it a try!