"Look after your shoes and they'll look after you" Is our Cobbler-in-chief, Tim Cooper's Mantra. As the fourth generation in a family of shoe makers, he should know. If however, your family ancestry in not a load of old cobblers, Tim has some good tips on how to prolong the life of your shoes and keep them in tip top condition.
I. Wear new shoes at home first
It is best to try your shoes around the house for a few hours a day, before you go for a full day’s wear. This will soften up the construction and break them in. Some constructions will take a little longer than others.
2. Grit your shoes
Try to avoid wet weather with new shoes. Wearing them in the dry to start enables a layer of grit to work its way into the leather soles. This forms a protective shield against wet weather and primes the soles to grip. New leather soles can be slippery on smooth surfaces or stair carpets. Pick a dry day for their first outing or walk around on a dry rough surface outside and the soles will be primed.
3. Rotate your shoes
Ideally leave your shoes for a day after you have worn them. This will allow the moisture to disperse, keeping your shoes fresher and stronger. Shoes that have rested will last significantly longer than a pair worn every day. This may seem like we are pushing for another sale – but on the contrary a ‘rotated pair’ surprisingly will probably last four times as long as a pair worn every day.
4. Use quality wooden shoe trees
Good quality shoe trees will absorb perspiration from your shoes and help them retain their original shape. We use a high quality Grove cedar for ours. And one pair will suffice. Insert the shoe trees after the day’s wear for 24 hours and then remove to use them for the next pair of shoes.
5. Avoid excessively wet weather with leather soles
Try to avoid wearing leather soled shoes in wet weather. Leather is a porous material and will deteriorate in excessively wet conditions. A rubber soled shoe would be a preferable option on such days. Inevitably of course, we will all get caught in an unexpected shower. In this case stuff the shoes with newspaper and allow them to dry naturally at room temperature without direct heat. Using a shoe tree will help to restore the shape.
6. Keep your shoes polished and protected
Well cared for shoes will last longer, it’s a simple fact. Leather should be polished regularly with a good quality polish such as Brush up to keep it nourished, supple and waterproof. Suede should be topped up regularly with a water repellent such as hydrophobe. Have a look at our Cobbler in Chief’s shoe care guide to find out more details about your specific shoes.