Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 29 January 2016

Well Worn Shoes Return

Once again unto the breach, dear shoe friends. Once again we plunge into the wonderful world of bespoke shoes.

This week we were reacquainted with some old friends which we hadn't seen for ten years

A customer who we had not seen for six years got back in touch saying he needed some new shoes and we were delighted.

He also asked if we could look at his old shoes as they needed some work. He was right!

These are what he brought in.

You will see that they do indeed need some care and restoration.

They also act as a lesson in how to look after your shoes and why it is a good idea to have them serviced regularly. Shoes take a battering from normal daily use and really need some regular help to keep them in good condition.

First up are the heels. We put a top piece on which has a rubber section. This has two functions - one to make the top piece more durable, the rubber lasts longer than the leather on hard pavements. And two, once the rubber has worn, it is time for a new top piece, which we are happy to put on ourselves.

The next thing to look at are the soles. We use Bakers oak bark tanned cow hide which we think is the best soling material around. It is flexible, breathable and very durable, but it is not indestructable. So every now and then (between 5 and 10 years on average), we must do a resole, which is a major repair - if you are interested in how we do it, then follow this link.

So, as soon as these stitches start to fail, you should bring them back for repair

This sole is nearly worn through.

Next is the upper which is arguably the least robust part of the shoe and needs regular maintenance.

We use the best quality box calf from France and Poland and it is very durable, but it does need nourishment. So four times a year (more or less) it needs shoe cream to replenish the oils to keep it supple.

And, depending on how often you wear them, it needs polish to keep a waterproof surface. We recommend a beeswax based polish, not one with silicone - most of the commomnly available polishes contain silicone and it damages the leather long term.

This next pair has been repaired in a heel bar and they have cut the sole in the waist and then stitched on a new sole on the fore part. This is not the way we would do it ourselves because you get that line in the waist which can let in water. Our method makes the join invisible (under the heel) and is more weatherproof.

And finally, the stitching on the band has come apart. This was a hand stitched detail and has happened from the stresses and strains produced by walking. It goes to show how much pressure shoes are put under just from normal use. This will be easy to fix.

So the question is, how will the repairs go? We hope that we can give both pairs a good service and will show you the results in due course.

Until nest week, happy shoemaking!