High quality shoes are one of the things that truly get better with age, the patina that develops over the years is truly unique. However, for shoes to age beautifully they will require the necessary care and attention. The following article will give you some general advice with regards to your shoes and subsequently our shoe care advice for different types of leather such as calf leather or cordovan leather. Following these steps ensures that you truly get the most out of your shoes!
Our first piece of advice would be that a shoe has to be filled at all times, either with a foot or a shoe tree. Shoe trees allow for the shoe to retain their Original shape, to minimize creasing and for the leather to dry naturally over time. Our shoetrees are made of American cedar wood which has a sweet smell and deodorizing qualities. Some may underestimate the significance of shoetrees; however, I can guarantee you that we can tell whether you use them or not.
Our second piece of advice would be to never wear shoes on consecutive days, preferably allowing two days of rest for the shoes. The first two days after wear are the most important for the shoe trees to do their job and it is the time needed for shoes to dry out naturally after the day's wear. Leather should dry naturally, meaning that it should not be exposed to factors that would speed up the drying process, a common mistake would be putting shoes on a radiator. Having a larger shoe collection allows for the shoes to last longer as one single pair of shoes will be worn less frequently.
In line with our previous point, we advise you to choose your footwear in accordance with the weather. Attention should be given to the leather of the upper or the sole, as explained in this article, certain types of soles and leather simply are more resistant to inclement weather than others. This does not mean that you should be alarmed if you happen to run into some rain with your leather soles, though if you know there are going to be puddles, it may be a wiser choice to go with some sort of rubber sole for that day.
Our final piece of advice would be to have a pair of shoes resoled when necessary as prolonged use may have detrimental effects on the shoes themselves. With Goodyear Welted shoes, the soles can be replaced multiple times as the integrity of the shoe is not dependent on the sole, rather the shoe is built upon the insole. The benefits are that Goodyear Welted shoes tend to be more water resistant, require higher quality leather to be lasted and that they can be resoled multiple times. If you were to continue wearing a pair of shoes that have to be resoled, there is the risk of damaging the insole - which is irreplaceable.
The following section gives our shoe care routine for some different types of leather, as calf leather requires a different care routine than cordovan for instance.
1. The first step would be to clean the shoes, we use a relatively coarse horsehair brush although a damp cloth works as well. The extend of cleaning required is solely dependent on how dirty the shoes are, if there is a lot of dirt build-up you may require using both a damp cloth and a horsehair brush. We finish the cleaning of the shoe by brushing the welt area of the shoe thoroughly.
2. If required, you could use a renovateur cream to nourish the leather more thoroughly. We use such a crème when the leather is dry. Apply a moderate amount of cream and allow it to dry overnight. The following day we apply beeswax polish, as mentioned in the following step, until the desired colour/level of shine is acquired.
3. The following step would be to apply a beeswax polish. Personally, I always use a colour slightly on the dark side to maintain the colour of the shoes. This can be done as beeswax does not contain a lot of pigment. However, prolonged use of a darker polish may darken the shoes over time. Using a colour of beeswax polish that comes close to the original colour of the shoes will both nourish the leather and maintain the colour of the shoes. Use a cotton cloth to apply the polish in a circular motion, ensuring that the whole shoe is covered; do make sure that you do not use too much polish. Finish by buffing the shoe with the cotton cloth used to apply the polish or by using a horsehair brush in combination with an old stocking. If you wear the shoes frequently, do this every two weeks, or for instance when you want to get rid of some scuffs.
4. You could apply a mirror shine or a darker polish on the toes and the heels of a pair of shoes. However, this can best be done in accordance with your own tastes. We will soon demonstrate how to do both these things!
Generally speaking, for bookbinder leather we tend to use the same routine as for regular calf leather, except we use a different polish in order to maintain the high shine that this particular leather is known for. We use Kiwi Parade Gloss Prestige for bookbinder leather, this is a blend of natural waxes and vegetable turpentine oil which ensures that the leather is nourished whilst attaining a high shine. It is important to realise that this wax is different than the lesser quality waxes that Kiwi makes!
Our routine for Cordovan is similar to that used for calf leather, except we also use Kiwi Parade Gloss Prestige instead of regular beeswax polish. Cordovan shines up rather easily and the leather is sort of fatty already, this means that you do not have to apply polish as frequently. When applying the polish, use a little bit and finish by using a horsehair brush. Cordovan benefits a lot from extensive brushing, even without the use of a wax. Brushing a cordovan shoe for a couple of minutes will bring it back to life!
Many people believe suede to be a type of leather that is relatively fragile and one that should be cared for extensively. Suede is quite easy to take care of and good quality suede can even be worn on rainy days without any trouble. We tend to wear suede shoes with rubber soles when the weather is bad! The key to maintaining suede is to brush it relatively frequently, using a suede brush ensures that it is cleaned of any dirt and that the nappy texture remains. However, be careful what kind of brush you use as suede brushes often also have brass bristles which may damage the suede. In our store we tend to use a nail brush, this is course enough to brush the suede but it does not cause damage.