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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Something Is Up With RM Williams Leathers - A Certain White Ghosting On The Leather

An intellectual property lawyer in the city of Sydney came past the Studio last week to request our help with a pair of RM Williams chelsea boots in black calf leather after he stumbled upon our posts on patina on google.

The owner of the boots explained that he went travelling and got stuck in the rain one day and that when he got back to Sydney he tried to restore the shoes with polish but that a sort of chalky white ghosting appeared as a film on the shoes when he tried to polish them. He enlisted my support and though I am no expert I set about trying to restore them in the following manner.

1. I brushed the shoes thoroughly.
2. I put a generous layer of Saphir Renovateur on the shoes and left them overnight.
3. I applied a black pomade by Saphir to the shoes.
4. I brushed the shoes thoroughly again.
5. I began to apply Saphir glacage wax in black in multiple layers over the shoes.

This was where we came a little unstuck. After many layers of shoe shine it seemed that we were unable to reach glacage and, to my surprise, despite using Saphir products, a certain white ghosting did start to appear on the shoes. The black calf leather on these boots also seemed to be unable to get to a layered glazed look like those found on vegetan leather finished shoes as opposed to this chromium leather from RM Williams. It was as though the grain of the leather prevented a glazed form forming.

I am not sure if anyone else out there has ever had this same experience but it was extraordinarily frustrating because I had not sweated any less that I usually did in order to get the shoe to glaze. My second problem, apart from not being able to reach the glaze of glacage was that I had to somehow get rid the white ghosting. On my preliminary reading of chromium leather I was under the assumption that this could be the by-product of the chromium salts that were used to in fact give the leather the depth of colour that it did have. So, I decided to try something that I read about from Berluti, the idea of using alcohol, in their case champagne, in between the layers of wax. If anything I felt that it might help to lift off any salts that were in the leather. I then proceeded to continue with another layer of wax and the result seems to be that that white ghosting effect has been substantially removed if not completely.

If you know anyone at RM Williams then perhaps its worthwhile asking the how they shine their chromium leather shoes to prevent this ghosting from appearing. Otherwise, perhaps consider giving the alcohol a go like I did, but don't be surprised if you can't reach a glaze on the finish.

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