In our modern world of rapidly changing trends, longevity has given way to disposability. Fads come and go seemingly overnight, and purchasing new apparel seasonally has become the norm. At Stag Barbershop we believe that classic style is timeless, and your image should reflect that from your haircut to your footwear. We offer $10 shoe shines every Thursday with Izzy the Bootblack between 11am & 8pm. As the old adage goes, “shoes make the man.” Whether they’re Grandpa’s old cowboy boots or the new dress shoes you splurged on for that big interview, leather shoes require care and maintenance to keep them looking their best.
Proper leather care is about more than just looking sharp, it’s about protecting an investment. Why do you think “well-heeled” means “wealthy”? Dirt left on leather is abrasive and drying, which can cause cracking and aging in the fabric when not cleaned and conditioned regularly. Shoe polish protects against dirt, water, and winter road salts, providing moisture to help nourish the leather. Work boots and motorcycle boots are generally made of a thick/tough types of leather called oil-tanned leather, which doesn’t need to be polished. The oil-tanning process creates a leather that is more impervious to heat and chemicals, but oil-tanned leather still should be cleaned and conditioned on a regular basis to help it maintain its protective properties. For garments and shoes made of softer leathers, use conditioners, as polish will flake off easily.
To take care of your shoes, you’ll need the following:
- Shoe polish in the right colors
- Saddle Soap
- Buffing brush with NATURAL BRISTLES not plastic (one for each color polish)
- A small brush, like a nail brush (preferably with natural bristles)
- Small towels used only for your shoes
- Cotton buffing cloth
- Leather conditioner
Clean the leather thoroughly using saddle soap and a little water (apply with the small nail brush). Dirt collects in the seams, around the edges of the tongue, and where the upper meets the outsole. Wipe off the soap residue with a damp cloth, and wipe dry. Great leather care ALWAYS starts with immaculately clean leather. If it isn’t clean, the dirt seals into the leather with the polish and conditioners. Apply polish or conditioners with your hands, your body heat will help melt them into the leather (abrasive hand cleaners found at auto parts stores will get the polish off your hands or you can use a dauber). With polish, less is more. Start off light, using more as needed. Let the polish rest a few minutes on each shoe before buffing with the brush, and then lightly buff with a cloth. Each morning before you put your shoes on, give them a light brushing to bring back the gloss. If this quick buffing is no longer enough to make them look their best, it’s time to start over by cleaning and reapplying polish.
NEVER dry wet leather with a heat source. This will cause more damage than letting the leather dry at room temperature. NEVER use mink oil or other animal-fat based leather conditioners because the fats can go rancid on the leather. Our personal favorite boot oil has bees wax and pine tar.
Along with a good haircut/hot shave from a barber, sitting for a shoe shine is the male equivalent to a woman’s pedicure. Unfortunately, shoe shiners and bootblacks are not nearly as common as they were twenty years ago. Take advantage of the opportunity to sit for a bootblack whenever possible. Izzy the Bootblack has been shining shoes professionally for over twenty years. Look for Izzy at Stag Barbershop on Thursdays from 11am-8pm. Feel free to drop off a pair any day of the week, or stop in on a Thursday, sit back, be a man and shine your shoes!
Be a Man, Go Stag