Of all kinds of footwear, it is undoubtedly leather shoes that people most often fret over how to protect. A new pair of leather shoe is associated with luxury itself, and the thought of them degrading over time is enough to make proud owners anxious. Nevertheless, the unique thing about leather shoes, where shoe care is concerned, is that the care regime changes over time.
To keep a pair of shoes – leather or any other kind – in good shape, there are of course things you should do in every case. You should undoubtedly eliminate foot odor as you go and deodorize your shoes with a good shoe spray like ShoeFresh whenever they begin to smell. You should also clean off any external dirt, as and when it appears, and be sure to store your shoes properly. All of that is what may be thought of as the basics of shoe care, and certainly applies to leather shoes too – whether they are brand new or not.
Conditioning Leather Shoes
There is, however, a certain type of shoe care that is specific to leather shoes, and that is the whole routine of leather conditioning and polishing. Nobody would apply shoe polish to a pair of sneakers and, unsurprisingly, this is what sets leather shoes apart. And for those who have recently acquired a new pair of fine leather winklepickers or loafers, the temptation to get started right away can be strong.
The application of leather conditioner is typically part of the complete shoe shine process. And starting as you mean to go on can seem like a good idea. Leather will need to mold slightly to your feet before a new pair of leather shoes feel comfortable, and when that happens, leather is unavoidably warped. This is why many people think that preservation from the get-go is important. Have you not, after all, just put your new leather shoes under quite a bit of strain by placing them on your feet for the first time?
The thing is that new leather shoes should neither be shined nor conditioned when they are first purchased. They should not even be buffed. All these processes are for the purposes of preserving leather, making it stronger and making it last for longer. As surprising as it may seem, this is not what you want to do. In fact, you should do the opposite. That initial warping and degradation is, in fact, a good thing for the shoes.
Breaking Them In
Leather conditioner should be thought of for the purposes of rejuvenating leather instead of for adding some sort of extra protection. If you think this way, it is easy to conclude that new shoes do not need to be rejuvenated. Instead, new shoes need to be broken in.
Breaking leather shoes in is a process of softening the leather and actually degrading it somewhat. Only in this way will leather shoes become comfortable enough to wear. The effect of this “breaking-in” process should simply be tolerated until such time as actual wear becomes visible on your shoes. It is only then that you should begin a conditioning regime.
The Dangers of Premature Conditioning
And it isn’t just that premature conditioning is not necessary, it can actually damage your shoes too. Certain leathers will be tough enough to withstand this, but others – specifically tan or lighter leathers – will show up smears if they are conditioned prematurely.
Therefore, you can put away all your shoe care gear for now. If you have new leather shoes, the only thing to do is wear them.