“You should invest heavily in your bed and your shoes, because if you’re not in one then you’re in the other.” That’s the sound advice of George Glasgow Jr, boss of top men’s footwear business GJ Cleverley.
The British firm, which has laced up Messrs Beckham, Stallone, Statham and Day-Lewis to name a few, knows better than most that a quality pair of shoes will always cost a pretty penny.
However, there’s also an investment of effort involved in breaking in and caring for fine footwear (breaking in a bed is something entirely different). Nonetheless it’s an outlay that pays dividends in the long term, as a good pair of shoes, properly maintained, can last a lifetime.
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It’s a case of patience to begin with. As Glasgow points out, English shoes in particular are generally stiffer to begin with and require breaking in. “Gradually wearing them over a few weeks will allow them to slowly mould to your feet,” he says.
“I always recommend that a client only wear his new shoes for a few hours at a time on the first four to six outings. Once broken in, they’ll be comfortable for years to come.”
Give It A Rest
The temptation to wear your brand new shoes constantly will be there, but this should be avoided at first. It’s advised that the shoes are allowed to rest between each wear.
“This lets the leather open up and adjust to your foot,” says Glasgow. “I would recommend always giving at least one day’s rest between use, ideally wearing a shoe a maximum of three times per week.”
Don’t just prise off your footwear and forget them at the day’s end. A little effort goes a long way, according to Glasgow. “After each wear, give your shoes a light brush to remove any dirt, then insert your shoetrees.”
You do own a set of good wooden shoetrees, don’t you? If not, pick some up, pronto. The wood (preferably cedar) absorbs sweat and other moisture (keeping odour to a minimum), helps preserve the leather and maintains the shoe’s shape.
Religiously inserting shoetrees after each wear, Glasgow says, “will extend the life of your shoes by many, many years”.
Storage Dos And Don’ts
“Always store your shoes on shoetrees, in a dry location away from light, preferably in cloth shoe bags to avoid dust,” Glasgow advises. If all that sounds a bit fussy, at the very least avoid storing leather shoes in plastic bags, which can lead to mould.
If looking for a cheap DIY alternative to shoetrees, stuff them with acid-free tissue paper – never newspaper. Keeping shoes in their box as opposed to strewn about the house is always a savvy move, too.
It’s not just the skin on your face that craves moisture after a long day. For shoes that are worn several times a week, Glasgow recommends polishing every fortnight. “Remember, you’re not just shining them, but nourishing the leather to keep it supple and prevent cracking,” he reasons.
“Don’t do the job moments before you go out, that’s a mistake loads of people make – instead, apply the polish or cream and let it really feed into the leather for a few hours, then brush it off and shine the shoes.”
When it comes down to it, Glasgow concludes, the more time and effort you put into maintaining your shoes, the more you’ll be rewarded. “It really is true: Take care of your shoes, and they’ll take care of you.”