A nice pair of leather shoes are not just another purchase of sneakers that you can wear down and wait for the next seasonal sale to replace with another pair. If you’re spending over $100, you need to treat them like an investment.
Leather is basically a skin that needs nutrients and care and, if done right, will last for decades. Leather enthusiasts love leather shoes as they have pores and enable your feet to breath while providing maximum comfort.
My first real pair of leather shoes were a pair of Classic Stanford Tan Traditional Derby’s, with a leather upper and lining and rubber sole from.
These shoes are sentimental to me as they lasted me a whole year and while taking a huge beating. This eventually equated my purchase with throwing $250 down the drain. Well not “down the drain”, but down the unused section of my shoe rack where they cracked, piled under my brother’s Nikes and suffocated.
Here’s what they look like now after a whole year of almost daily use & abuse:
But I choose to look on the brighter side and say I’ve learnt my lesson.
I’d like to share with you my “7 Top Tips To Maximise Your Investment” on your leather shoes and how to avoid the mistakes that I made.
1. Shoe Trees
These are awesome. Leather absorbs moisture from outside weather and sweat from your feet. This causes the inner lining to rot, crack and develop a pungent odour (you know exactly what I’m talking about). Shoe trees prevent rotting in your lining to eliminate the smell by absorbing the moisture. They also maintain the shape of the shoe by letting the leather dry in it’s correct shape.
Shoe trees are affordable ranging between $15-$30. For the meanwhile you can compensate with compacted newspaper.
2. Brush Them Down With A Horse Hair Brush
When you’ve finished your day and ready to kick up your feet to relax, make sure you brush down your shoes removing any dirt you accumulated from your work. This ensures the shoes will be clean for the next day they’re worn and dirt doesn’t build up in those hard to reach places.
You can do this using a Welt Brush and a Shine Brush which I’ll elaborate on later.
3. When Draining Moisture From Weather Lay Them On Their Side Instead
After your leather has been soaked due to weather conditions and you’ve dried off all visible water, instead of lying them down on the sole lie them down on their side so the water may dry sideways. This minimises the damage that the water can cause.
When leather comes in contact to excessive amounts of water, it absorbs it and moulds differently to how your foot holds inside. It’s crucial that you condition and polish your shoes after these unfortunate weather conditions.
4. Replace your heel/sole
After multiple use your shoe will inevitably wear down most noticeably in the heel and on the sole. The best thing you can do is to identify when it’s time to replace the sole and take them to the cobbler to replace.
The ideal time to replace your heel is when the “cover of the heel” has worn down and has almost touched the “leather heel”.
Deciding when to replace the sole is a matter of identifying erosion. Kirby Allison, from the “” puts it in perspective with these images.
5. Heel taps
If your shoes wear out on the outside of your heal instead of the inside, “heel taps” are an old-school solutions to sole erosion. They feature rubber/metal attachments on the border of the heel to prevent the wear down on the heel itself. This prolongs the need for a heel replacement.
This is an old-school solution to when the heel of your shoe wears down. But be warned – you might sound like a horse, clickity clack.
6. Shoe Horn
These metal, plastic or wooden devices are what assistants use in the shoe shop to squeeze your foot in to your brand new shoes. They prevent possible damage, particularly to your counterfort (see shoe anatomy in step 4). These aren’t your raggedy three-year -old trainers so jamming your foot inside does damage.
Additionally, opt for a wooden or plastic make. The sharp edges of a metal shoe horn can damage your foot, or even worse, your shoe.
7. Use leather care products
Finally, out of all techniques to increase longevity of your shoes, this is the most important. You NEED to use products and substances on your shoes. Just like you need moisturiser and face cleansers for your face, your shoe needs similar.
The three basic substances you will need are:
- Leather Conditioner – moisturises the leather
- Leather Cream – additional layer after conditioner to add colour and buff shoe
- Leather Wax – protecting the leather from harm, covering up the harm already caused and finishing the polish
The apparatus you will need are:
- Shine brush – to clean and buff your shoe
- Welt brush – to apply substances and cleaning in hard-to-reach spots
- Old Used cloth – applying substances evenly and measurably
Leather care using these products can be perceived as an art form. An entire blog post will be needed to demonstrate and describe how to clean, shine and buff your shoes.
But other than that, those are my top 7 tips. Hope you found this helpful. Stay tuned for our incoming post on the 4 types of leather you need to know about.
The 7 steps are:
- Shoe Trees
- Brush Them Down With A Horse Hair Brush
- When Draining Moisture From Weather Lay Them On Their Side Instead
- Replace your heel/sole
- Heel taps
- Shoe Horn
- Use leather care products
Follow these 7 steps and you’ll have found the fountain of youth for your shoes.
Raising The Collar Standard,