journal: Shoe Care

The Brownout by Nick Horween

From time to time I ask guests to post an entry that’s of interest to me and hopefully to you. This is a re-post from 2009 by Nick Horween which, IMHO is a very interesting discourse on the effect of sunlight and polish on shell cordovan. I really love these Longwings…..

The last post featured a picture of some old longwings that generated a fair amount of questions regarding patina, polishing, and the general care of Shell Cordovan.  Maybe I should say re-generated, as we do get a fair amount of inquiries on the subject.   In response, this will be the first in (at least) a three part series addressing these topics (and we’ll get on to something other than just shoes in the future – so if shoes aren’t your thing don’t give up on us).

Someone had recently asked if there was “a way to make shoes patina faster?” The short answer is, no.  The long answer is, kind of.

They both started as the same color...

They both started as the same color…

Patina, at least in my mind, is something that is produced by age and the level of care.  How much sun the leather receives, how often it is polished, the climate, and an array of other factors will effect how a shoe (or a piece of furniture) will wear over time.  The first picture in this post is two different shoes both made with our Color #8.  The only difference (besides style and shoemaker) is that I left the Cap Toes in the sun for a couple of months.  Both pairs have been well worn, but to the extent that the shoes on the left have lightened is very dramatic.  I could have reduced the exposure if I’d wanted them to lighten less.

Same color, different shoe, different exposure.

Same color, different shoe, different exposure.

The lightened shoes, now polished.

The lightened shoes, with the shoe on the left polished.

In the picture above of the cap toes, the shoe on the left has been conditioned and then simply polished with a burgundy paste wax – the first picture in the post is also the polished shoe next to the longwing.  You can see that the polish and conditioner have re-darkened the shoe to a degree, but it is still very light compared to the original color.  The fading and then polishing has yielded yet another color with marked highs and lows.  I find the new color appealing but it may not be for everyone.  Also, this doesn’t necessarily fit my definition of a true “patina,” but it does illustrate the effect that wear and exposure has on shoes.

The same color again, the left is #8 after about 4 months of direct sunlight.

The same color again, the left is #8 after about 4 months of direct sunlight.

As a disclaimer, I do not really recommend doing this”.  As some people have heard or read, the “lighter” and “darker” colors of cordovan are that way for a reason.  The leather, being a unique medium, has highs and lows in terms of natural color.  The darker shells are many times that way because this makes for the most uniform finished product.  As our shells are stained with fully aniline stains (meaning no pigment to provide coverage of any kind), fading your darker colored shells may cause these color “differences” to become detectable, if they even exist at all.

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Deer Bone Restock

We’ve just restocked our popular deer bone for polishing cordovan. The oils inside this deer bone, when rubbed into shell cordovan leather, will restore uniformity to the color and smooth over scratches. It can even remove some small creases and welts. This is the secret weapon for polishing shell cordovan shoes.

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Deer bone

La Cordonnerie Anglaise Shoe Shine Kits

Polishing your shoes is an important part of taking care of them and making sure they last as long as possible. There isn’t a better or more luxurious way to store your waxes, creams, and brushes than in boxes and travel pouches from La Cordonnerie Anglaise. They make what are simply the finest shoe shine kits available. Each comes with a selection of creams and horsehair brushes for you to get started. These kits will only get better with age, as they take on a character of their own, and are something to pass among generations.

La Cordonnerie Anglaise Shoe Shine Kits

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Indentant Box

Nano Protector

We love wearing suede, and while its resilience is often overlooked, we realize you might fear destroying your new suede shoes. With Nano Protector, you can now wear suede with confidence. Nano Protector guards your shoes from liquids and dirt, while not harming or discoloring the suede in any way.

But don’t take our word for it. Watch the video below to see Nano Protector at work.

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Dandy Shoe Care

Located in Parma, Italy, Dandy Shoe Care is known internationally as a specialist in the hand coloring of footwear.

Having spent years studying materials, artistic coloring and leather treatment Alexander Nurulaeff, owner of Dandy Shoe Care draws on his background as a painter to create patina techniques of matchless perfection. Dandy Shoe Care offers customizations and treatments to make your shoes, leather bags and accessories all the more exclusive.

As Nurulaeff says on his website “One can understand a lot by looking at a man’s shoes; It is not enough that they are beautiful, because it is the cure of them that reveals one’s true love.”  He offers an exclusive service that makes them unique as you.

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