The Shoe Snob Blog

December 18, 2020

Written by , Posted in Educational, Leather, News

Do Not Condition Brand New Shoes

Do Not Condition Brand New Shoes

Patina’d John Lobbs by Hancore

I never understood why people do a full regime on a brand new pair of shoes. I can understand wanting a cap shine but what goes on in the mind to apply conditioner? A conditioner is something that is used to rejuvenate leather. Brand new leather does not need rejuvenation. It needs break-in i.e. softening of the leather.

Conditioners are often made concentrate and can actually do their own damage when used improperly. And all leathers are not the same in finish durability. Some treatments and dyes are more surface based i.e. crust leather dyes and museum calfs. That being, when the leather is fresh it is actually more susceptible to damage i.e. accidental stripping and/or darkening of the finish. Of course, black leather can withstand anything but not all tan/light colored finishes are going to reward you for conditioning them prematurely.

Do Not Condition Brand New Shoes

Inspiration work by ShoeShineUK

A couple potentially useful analogies that might help are the following:

1. Would you apply lotion to a brand new baby out of the womb?

2. Would you detail your car right after driving it off the lot of brand new vehicles?

3. Would you iron a pressed shirt from the dry cleaners?

If you answered no to any of these then why would you condition the leather on your brand new shoes?

The issue with leather, and do not ask me why as I am not a scientist for skin, is that when it is new its pores are shut and therefore more reactive of surface based liquids. Thats why it is easier to stain a brand new shoe with rain. Thats why it is easier to accidentally strip brand new leather. Thats why your shine cracks easier after wearing when over-shining brand new shoes.

Do Not Condition Brand New Shoes

Inspiration work by ShoeShineUK

Shoes/leather need time to break in. The more you wear the shoes the more the pores relax and open up, making the shoes easier to shine and presenting a better time for conditioning. It will also become less likely that rain, and the like, will stain the leather.

Too often have I witnessed online or had people ask me how rectify their new shoes that they either stipped or stained by being heavy handed in conditoner or wax on their brand new shoes. And often, especially on a light colored pair of shoes, there is no rectification that can be done by the common person (without potentially ruining further). If you dark stain a pair of tan colored crust shoes, only time and light will help to rectify that issue but not adding more liquids on top. If you strip your finish, well, that needs someone truly skilled in finish refurbishing to help.

Do Not Condition Brand New Shoes

Inspiration work by ShoeShineUK

Therefore, I have some recommendations for you to ensure you do not ruin your brand new shoes:

1. Never condition a new pair unless your new pair comes with very dry leather. And if you must, use a very small amount of conditioner. Remember, it is concentrate. Always test on the inside heel to see how the finish reacts. If it darkens, stop immediately. It if strips, also stop immediately. If it takes it okay, proceed cautiously.

2. Never mirror shine brand new shoes other than the tips of the toes and the outer edges of the heels. The rest of the leather needs to break in first before you can start mirror shining it all around (which is still never recommended). If you ignore this, your shine will inevitably crack and if you are unlucky it will take its finish with it and you will have a very ugly shoe to rectify.

3. Never use neutral wax polish other than to finish a mirror shine. For some reason, the lack of pigment actually produces a stripping like effect and too often have I seen people ruin their crust/museum calf/vegetable tanned shoes using neutral wax polish. Use a wax that is always closest in shade to the leather color.

4. Wear your shoes at least once when brand new before starting a shoe shine regime. Anything extreme is bad for your leather. And some of your shoe shine regimes are extreme. Remember, leather was once living. It is a natural product. And the products are essentially chemicals. They help to certain degrees but can also hurt in others. Always use a little and apply accordingly. Never cake on any product. It will have adverse effects.

And of course, if you fail to follow these instructions, just realize that fixing what you did will be difficult and most likely require you to send them to a specialist and/or give you the opportunity to become your own through trial and error shining. That is, after all, how all of the specialists learned!

Do Not Condition Brand New Shoes

Inspiration work by ShoeShineUK

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