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By Paul Evans
Taking care of our handmade Italian footwear is a breeze because high-quality footwear doesn't require excessive attention—just a light touch of maintenance to maintain an effortlessly natural and classic look. When you get a new pair, there’s no need for immediate conditioning or polishing - they’re ready to wear out of the box. We recommend sitting down at a shoe shine stand every once in a while, but if you aren’t in a location to have that luxury, the following guide will help you out at home.
We can’t stress the importance of shoe trees enough. If you follow only one direction in this guide, it should be to use shoe trees. Cedar (not plastic) shoetrees will wick away moisture, maintain your shoes’ handcrafted shape and also remove foot odor. Check out our cedar split-toe shoetrees here. In combination with the shoe trees, resisting the urge to wear our beautiful shoes many days in a row will also greatly add to their look and life. Remember leather is a skin, and if you’re going to beat it up, giving it time to heal is also important. We know every guy doesn’t have the robust shoe wardrobe to wear 7 different pairs of shoes for each day of the week, but mixing in two or three pairs will go a long way.
Whenever we get a new pair of Paul Evans handcrafted shoes, we stop by a cobbler’s shop and pick up heel and toe protectors for them. These simple pieces of plastic extend the life of your soles significantly. They wear down themselves after a few months, but replacing them ensures the two major wear spots on your shoes—the toe where you push off and the corner of the heel where you foot initially hits the ground—stay intact. You don’t have to hike all the way to your cobbler to get these nifty sole savers. Kiwi makes Heel Savers that are available online and work just fine.
Before getting into color repair and shining, you want a clean palette. This isn’t necessary each time, but if your shoes are particularly dirty or you’ve added many layers of creams and waxes over time, using a gentle cleaner will be helpful.
A moisturizer isn’t totally necessary if you are following most of these steps, as Saphir shoe-care products already contain inputs with moisturizing properties. But if your noticing your shoes looking particularly dry, use Saphir Crème Universelle in-between cleaning and polishing.
When it’s been a rough day and our shoes look worse for wear, we take the time to give them a quick polish. There are two types of polishes: cream and wax. If you choose cream polish, apply to the shoe dry before brushing it off vigorously. This method is best when you want a matte finish to your shoes. For a more shiny finish, use Saphir wax polish.
Simply apply, brush, and rub with a clean towel. The longer I spend on this process, the shinier the finish. Using a combination of the two is also totally fine. You can repair nicks in the color with the cream, and burnish the toes and heels with a black or dark brown wax, and then brush and rub for shine. Our preferred move is to use the vibrant color creams to repair and the darker waxes to burnish and reinstate that hand-painted finished look.
One thing about shoe polish to keep in mind is that it will affect the color of your shoes over time. For instance, after polishing my Marrone Cagney Cap-Toe Oxfords with brown polish four or five times, you will notice that the leather has become darker. You can burnish the toes of your leather shoes this way—just use black or a very dark brown polish on the toe and spread it up with a clean towel until you have the desired look.
Our shoes are finished at our factory using Saphir Medaille d’Or waxes, and we have the exact ones to match on our site.
If your shoes are…
Oxblood: Use Saphir crème surfine cherry for color repair and Saphir Medaille d’Or pate de luxe – black to add that darker burnish on top to darken to your desired effect. If you prefer your Oxblood more red, go heavier on the Cherry. If you like it darker, rub more black wax in.
Cognac: Use Saphir crème surfine cognac for color repair. Our Cognac typically doesn't have a heavy burnished effect, so for shine, you can use the Saphir Medaille d’Or – neutral. If you want to mix in some lighter or darker shades of color, the Light Brown or Medium Brown Medaille d’Or pate de luxe are totally fair game.
Nero (Italian for Black): You know what to do.
It’s important to mention the extra care your shoes need during these colder months. First, if you want to avoid doing most of the following steps, you’d get some rubber overshoes. Rather than wearing your crappy shoes to and from work, or silly looking boots with your suit, or just ruining your Paul Evans, try these.
Use Saphir Graisse Dubbin to help keep moisture away from your leather shoes when it snows or rains. A couple applications throughout the winter may be necessary. If your shoes have dirt or salt on them when you come home, be sure to wipe it off completely with a damp cloth rag before storing them.
If it’s more than just a little dirt, we recommend adding Saphir Reno'Mat leather cleaner to your rub down. It helps remove buildup of silicons, resins, and dirt but is still kind to your Italian calfskin. After cleaning, condition with Saphir Crème Universelle to keep the leather healthy.
Salt is the enemy. There is no immediate fix here for severe salt stains. We would recommend you wearing your other brand shoes in slushy and salty weather – you wouldn’t take your Ferrari out in that weather, would you? – but if you have salt stains, bring them to a professional at the end of the season to have them removed. Or avoid these issues altogether with overshoes.
Of course, suede shoes require a different approach. If your suede Paul Evans shoes are in need of a cleaning, follow these steps:
- Brush vigorously in both directions using a Saphir horsehair brush to remove dirt and stains.
- Rub the surface of your shoes with a damp towel. This brings up the nap.
- Stains may also be rubbed off with a damp towel and Saphir Omnidaim Suede Cleaner. Allow the leather to dry before assessing your success.
- Saphir Crepe Brush perfectly walks the fine line of rough but gentle to get the suede fibers running in the same direction again.
- If there are lumps of dirt or dry scuffmarks that won’t come off this way, try rubbing them off with a fingernail file. Be gentle.
- Keep the suede protected using a weather protector spray.
Easy, right? Now you have the know-how to keep your Paul Evans shoes in tip-top shape for years to come. Just remember: when it comes to quality Italian leather shoes, it takes a light touch to care for them. You may be excited to wax and polish them right out of the box, but resist. These beauties are hand painted by our craftsmen in Italy; show you appreciation for their work by letting it be until a good cleaning is needed.