A lesson today in the damage caused by not treating your shoes right; but how they can be repaired if you don’t.

My friend John is very fond of shoes. But he can be a little bit careless when it comes to their maintenance. My three golden rules for shoe care are to only wear them every other day (at the most), to put shoe trees in them at the end of every use, and to polish them regularly. Not following the first one will make the shoes wear out far quicker than needed; ignoring the second will lead to shoes wrinkling and losing their shape; and not polishing will lead to the leather drying out as well as losing protection. (From an aesthetic point of view, polishing will make your shoes look a lot better too – and to maintain that look I recommend brushing down at the end of every day (to remove scuffs) and wiping down at the beginning (to remove brush marks and dust)).

John followed few of these with the pair of shoes pictured here (from Polo Ralph Lauren). Certainly they were worn on sequential days and rarely saw a shoe tree.

You can see the effects – wrinkled, scuffed and, most importantly, worn down severely on the heel and sole. The biggest danger with this wearing down is that both the full heel and the welt need to be replaced. Both are expensive; but the second can also only be done a few times on a pair of shoes – so by letting the damage get that far you are needlessly shortening their life.

I gave the job of rescuing this pair to Stephen Haughton, maintenance master and owner of Burford Valet Service. While most of Stephen’s work involves looking after the wardrobes of the rich and famous – spot cleaning and hand pressing their suits while they’re away in a second or third residence – he also takes on some general cleaning and refurbishment work for us plebs.

Stephen replaced the welts on John’s shoes, replaced the heel and added a new, full leather sole. Because of the excessive wear and lack of care, there were also a few places in which the leather had been worn down or lost its colouration. So it was cleaned, creamed and then antiqued to blend the new colour with the existing wear. The service cost £160. Without the excessive wear, and therefore need to replace the welt or the whole heel, it would have been nearer £100.

As John said, receiving the rescued pair delightedly, they felt like an entirely new shoes. Let’s hope he’s learnt his lesson.

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Anonymous

Incredible difference. At what point should you look at re-soling, are there signs (other than general wear) that you would look for?

Speedmaster

Wow, very nice work!!!

Anonymous

Was this a conjuring trick?!
More extraordinary than constructing a shoe in the first place!
Sadly, I doubt one could find this quality of work in the U.S.
God, I love the patina of old leather!
–John Wesley

K.A. Adams

A beautiful save by Mr. Haughton !

Another way to check for the wear of the sole is to turn the shoe upside down and press your thumb down into the sole in the center of the pad area. If there is considerably more movement or softness in the pad area than there is in the area closer to the heal it is probably time to think about re soling.

Unfortunately, as far as I know, Polo does not offer their own re crafting service

kettlebells

wow! they look amazing!

Jerome

a true gentleman cares for anything and everything he owns.

it pains me to see a good pair of leather shoes get ruined.

..and If nobody takes care of them, vintage items will never exist.

E.H.R

Do you have a contact or website for the valet service? I also have a pair I’d love to get fixed up, but I can’t find anything about them online.

Maux

For those of you in the Chicago area, I’ve seen some very impressive shoe refurbishments from http://www.brooksshoeservice.com/

IL

Saw your post from almost 10years ago, decided to investigate and found this instead: the proprietor of the shop closed it abruptly a couple years ago, and threw out all the luxury shoes, purses, etc, with which he was entrusted… fun times!

https://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/March-2018/Renowned-Leather-Repair-Shop-VanishesWith-Its-Customers-Luxury-Goods/

robert

hello, i have a pair of suede brogues that i had failed to protect adequately- they got soaked in a London deluge last week and are now slightly discoloured- do you have any tips for rescuing them? or can you recommend anyone who might help? ( like you, i am based in EC4!)

why not buy new shoes?

Anonymous

hi simon, really enjoy reading your blog, have a question for you after buying a couple of quality pairs of english shoes as i want to look after them.

ive got some shoe trees in the cupboard, ones which have the wooden foot piece attached to a metal ‘spring’ which is a long price of coiled metal with a ball on the end.. are these ok to use as they do seem to have a lot of tension in them on inserting into the shoe. coudnt really justify buying a shoe tree with the same last shape as the shoe from the store as they were about 1/2 of the price of the shoe. do you have any thoughts on shoe trees and if certain ones are better or worse thatn others?

cheers, david

Anonymous

thanks simon, makes sense to do that i think ..

A

Anonymous

This is great! In today’s “throw away and buy again” world it is a welcome sight to see that many see a cobbler’s work as an option against adding to the land fill. Besides, there is nothing like a “new” old pair of shoes, especially if they are your favorite pair!

Mike

Hi Simon,

I really enjoy your site, thank you for all your hard work. I recently moved to London from the US. I have a pair of older boots that I’ve taken good care of but are in need of a touch up, and a new set of soles and heels for winter (possibly Dainite, or something similar). Do you have any recommendations?

All the best,

Mike