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A professional shoeshine gives the finishing touch to a sharp ensemble
Nothing completes a sharp outfits better than a professional shoeshine. We spoke to the experts at Tassels, who have been taking care of world-class quality footwear for over a century, to find out more.
What makes a professional shoeshine different to what can be achieved at home?
“An experienced shoeshine expert is able to determine the condition of the shoes and to treat them properly with the right maintenance products. A professional shoeshine service takes about 10 minutes to complete, taking care of all parts of the shoe. It is comprehensive but costs little time, meaning customers don’t need to spend extra time on maintaining their shoes regularly. Also, a professional shoeshine service can save money and storage space for customers, since a comprehensive footwear maintenance set includes quite a lot of products.”
How do you treat different types of leather; what treatments do you use?
“Calfskin, suede and shell cordovan are the most commonly seen leather in handmade shoes. We usually treat calfskin with shoe cream as moisturiser and to restore the scratches on the leather upper, then we will make a thin wax layer to give a shiny and water repellent effect. For suede, we will apply one or two layers of waterproof spray regularly. A bristle brush will be needed for regular maintenance to remove dust and stains too. Shell cordovan treatment is slightly different. Here, we apply shoe cream with richer grease ingredients, specially formulated for shell cordovan, to restore the leather.”
What are your favourite shoeshine products, and what makes them so good?
“We are impressed by several shoeshine products from the Bootblack High Shine collection, Saphir Medaille d’Or Cream shoe polish and Turms Lux Cream. The Bootblack High Shine collection includes products such as High Shine Cleaner, Base and Coat which are tremendously effective in building up a mirror gloss effect on shoes while requiring less time to achieve the effect. Saphir Medaille d’Or Cream shoe polish has a rich grease ingredient to moisturise the leather and a wax ingredient which builds up a water repelling layer. It’s a great practical maintenance product for a quick polish. And the ingredients of Turms Lux Cream are 100% environmentally friendly and allergen-free, minimising the risk of harm to users and the environment.”
You are in a position to see what trends are going on in footwear, can you give us any insights from your unique point of view?
“Classic is the major trend among the carrying handmade shoemakers that we carry. Shoemakers with a rich heritage of producing footwear with traditional construction and design persist with the highest quality standards, while blending classic details into new styles. For instance, the Andover from Crockett & Jones is inspired by traditional Adelaide brogues and wingtips.
Handmade shoemakers nowadays develop new styles to match attire for all kinds of occasion and in response to trends in practical usage. More suede leather styles for summer casual usage and rubber outsoles are appearing in modern handmade dress shoes, for example. We see lightweight smart casual styles as an increasing trend in classic menswear nowadays. Handmade shoemakers have developed many styles of unlined constructed footwear with casual materials such as calf suede or grained calfskin, in response to modern trends. These shoes are now becoming more celebrated in the world of classic menswear as a more stylish alternative to sneakers.”
A good shoeshine is a timeless element of style, but how much have changing fashions affected what you do?
“Good maintenance of leather shoes remains essential regardless of changing fashion trends. Footwear, kept in good condition, will always make the wearer look sharp and smart all day. We see increasing numbers of casual leather shoes for shoeshine recently and more customers want us to use neutral polish in order to retain the natural patina that shoes acquire with age.”
What is most satisfying about giving a great shoeshine?
“We’re always satisfied to be able to restore shoes to their best condition, working by hand and employing traditional techniques throughout the shoe-shining process. Sharing our knowledge and shoe-shining tips is also an enjoyable part of the job.”