Don't be alarmed by the title of this post - I was told it was good for SEO. At the end of every sale I like to reward myself with a little bit of blog time indulgence. I am aware that barely anyone reads blogs these days now that everyone important is on Instaspam but I am compelled to keep up my blog because it's not all about the money and this truly was the way that a young brand could emerge in a digital era without having to sell my concept to venture capitalists or loan sharks (that is intended humour).
So this time my indulgence was a shoe restoration which I haven't done in some time and I wish to impart some wisdom on all my blog readers with spare time and a passion for good shoes.
My advice is this - spend some time on Ebay and especially watch the selections from Ascot Shoes' store on Ebay as well as the store run by Elizabeth Varnish called Shoes Of Distinction and another Ebayer caller Thomas Henry Shoes (or on instagram as @4shoeboy. These three stores are excellent at picking up rare and unwanted English, Italian, Romanian (St Crispins) and Hungarian shoes (think of the brand Vass) . To say they are unwanted is a misnomer. They are either acting as agents, acting on behalf of people who no longer want a pair of shoes, on behalf of shoe shops shedding stock or else on behalf of shoe factories who need to get rid of seconds and thirds and shoes that were never picked up or never sold. That's a lot of excuses to have shoes, so you can imagine, they constantly have new ranges of shoes on their sites.
Personally these days I like to look for light coloured leather shoes that somebody else overlooked because they wouldn't wear the colour. Such was the case with the Barker Black shoes below that started life hard against the grain of trend and fashion. I had always wanted a pair of Barker Black shoes to work with because I had reached out to them when I first began writing the blog to see if they would give me a free pair or discounted at least and they promptly told me they weren't interested.
Patience and Ebay are a virtue and I managed to secure a pair from Ascot Shoes and I began yesterday the first iteration to give them a new lease of life.
I stripped them with acetone and alcohol and I spent the first day giving them a marine blue and black toe cap and heel. I am using beaver hair brushes these days and I don't bother with any other kind. The beaver seems to glide on the dye so naturally and with such an elegant brush stroke. I also found this time around that the quality of the Saphir dyes is so much more superior to Feibling and the leather dye brands you can find in Sydney. There is a viscosity and depth to the colour as it goes on that seems so much more superior and tends not to leave that awful metallic shade that sometimes appears after a dyeing session with cheaper dyes.
All in all it took me about two hours to get to the first stage of waxing and with a pomade. From what they were (colour unwearable) to what they are now, is chalk and cheese. I have gone for dark blue and black because I would like to wear them with a navy suit and jeans and have a mid shine on them to make them not so ostentatious that they would attract too much attention but blue enough that they stand out from the black shoes being worn by others on the street.
I will keep you updated as I progress but needless to say this is a work in progress and really for the small amount of money you pay to set up your dyes and brushes compared with the massive savings you can get by shopping websites like Ascot Shoes on Ebay (provided you know your size well, especially the width of your foot), well to my mind, it's a no brainer.
Saphir products can be bought from Ebay too though I recommend places like Exquisite Trimmings in London and The Hanger Project in Dallas. The most expensive part will be your time but if you love being creative and if you need something to take your mind off the other shit you have to deal with in your life, try taking up shoe restoration, dyeing and polishing. It's almost as good as cooking....
|Light coloured leathers like these tones often sell poorly and are optimal for home dyeing. I recommend Saphir dyes and a beaver brush. Most of the technique can be found by goodling patina restoration on you tube or the web.|
|An initial beaver brush stroke using marine blue by Saphir - a dye that is superior in my experience to other brands I have worked with.|
|This is the first iteration, the desired finish will see the shoes being worn with a navy suit or jeans.|