Tips for preserving shoes

London’s resident shoe guru, Sigrid Gelati-Meinert of Peponita shoes, shares her lifetime’s knowledge on selecting and preserving shoes. Here are her tips on choosing, cleaning, caring and repairing:

Where possible, buy leather shoes

Shoes made of smooth leather will last longer than suede or pony skin, and you can use cream or wax to protect them.

Carry out a pre-purchase inspection

It’s important to have a good look at the construction of the shoe. Make sure the stitching is neat and there aren’t glue marks all over the leather, which could indicate sloppy workmanship. Bear in mind, if you buy shoes with a welted sole then these can be re-soled.

Never buy your shoes too tight

A good pair of shoes should be comfortable from the moment you put them on.

Ease into your new shoes

Wear them around the house before you commit to a walk or a night out. This will soften up the construction, ensuring a comfortable fit.

Peponita Shoes Tip

Use a waterproofing spray 

It’s important to weatherproof all types of shoes, but more so for delicate materials such as suede and ponyskin its essential. If you wear your shoes regularly, then it’s important to re-spray them as often as every other month.

Alternate between wax and cream

Wax is best for polishing leather and hiding scuffs and scratches. However, over time it can dry it out, so it’s a good idea to alternate between a moisturising cream. These come in a range of colours.

Use a conditioner

If you live in a place that experiences harsh weather conditions (such as lots of rain and snow), it’s important to use a conditioner product. Much like cream, it conditions the leather and helps to prevent it cracking.

Wash them when they’re dirty

Clean your leather shoes gently with mild soapy water, then polish with cream or wax using a soft cloth, followed by a quick buff with a brush.

Never wear your shoes two days in a row

Wearing them on successive days can burn away the leather.

Care for your soles

If you have shoes with leather soles it’s always good to take them to the cobbler to put a rubber patch on them. This will prolong the life of your shoes and prevent you from slipping.

Use a shoe bag

When travelling, store shoes in a shoe bag. This will help to protect them, even if you’re just going to the gym after work.

Store your shoes correctly

Store shoes in your wardrobe or cupboard, rather than boxes. This allows them room to breathe and keeps them out of direct sunlight which will fade and damage them. To help shoes keep their shape, pop them on a shoe tree or stuff the toes with a bit of newspaper.

Avoid wearing your favourite shoes in the rain

If your shoes do get wet, make sure you pat them dry with a towel, stuff them with newspaper (but not too full, as they will lose their shape), and let them dry naturally. Never put them on the radiator or dry using a hairdryer.

Make friends with a cobbler

Take your shoes to the cobbler for a regular ‘service’. If you wait until the shoes are damaged, then they’ll get past the point of repairing. Shoes with a welted sole can be completely re-soled.

For London-based readers, the following cobblers are great ones to get to know:

Understand your suede

If suede gets wet it’s best to let it dry naturally. If there are marks on the shoes, it’s best to use a suede cleaner to try and remove them. Scuffs and scrapes can be covered up with a good polish, but for anything more serious (for example, if you drip wax on them), then it’s best to go to the cobblers.

You’ve read Sigrid’s tips, now tell us about your best tips for caring for shoes at home in the comment section below.

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If you’ve got a thing for shoes, then read all about Sigrid’s store Peponita & Friends, situated on London’s busy Columbia Road. You can also find out more about the lady herself and her passion for vintage-inspired footwear.