From boots to brogues, loafers to lace-ups: a high quality pair of leather shoes can last a lifetime. But in order to get the most out of them, you're going to need to treat them well. Familiarise yourself with the practice of leather shoe care and you'll be rewarded with years of wear.
Think of your approach to leather shoe care like you would a skincare regime: leather should be cleaned and moisturised as necessary, removing dirt and impurities to ensure your shoes maintain a healthy, youthful appearance. To start with, remove the laces and ensure the leather is free of dust and dirt by gently cleaning it with a soft brush. A well-made bristle brush with a sturdy wooden handle is perfect for the job.
Next, prepare the surface of the leather for moisturising and polishing with a leather cleaner and applicator brush. Remember to clean and protect your welts as well as your uppers. Let the cream permeate the leather for up to a couple of hours before polishing them with a high quality wax polish, buffing the shoe with a large bristle brush in long, firm strokes to create a smooth, even shine.
Finally, apply some conditioner or protector, in the form of a resin or a spray. Suede will require this more so than any other leather, particularly during rainier periods. Applying a protector once a month will increase the leather's longevity and keep them fresh for longer.
Storing your shoes correctly is also a significant aspect of leather shoe care. Keep your shoes in shape with a shoe tree, preferably one made from high quality cedar, which has natural anti-bacterial and moisture-absorbing properties. Be sure to keep your leather shoes in shoe bags to protect them from dust and sunlight. Suede shoes will benefit from being stored in open air, away from sunlight.
Put your leather shoe care know-how into practice with some of our favourite shoe care kits and products...
Velasca Lustrà Piscinin Black Smooth Leather Shoe Care
Velasca's shoe care travel kit comprises four essential items – two brushes, shoeshine and a cloth – to help keep your shoes in tip-top condition while on the go. Designed as miniatures (piscinin means small in Milanese), they'll take up minimal space in your luggage.
Oliver Cabell Refresh Kit
Have a pair of white leather sneakers that need some particular attention? Look no further than Oliver Cabell's Refresh Kit, which contains a bottle of premium shoe cleaner, a shoe cleaning brush, shoe whitener, and white cotton laces. The perfect combination for restoring life to your white leather kicks.
Axel Arigato X Sneaker Lab Premium Cleaning Kit
Swedish sneaker powerhouse Axel Arigato has teamed up with Sneaker LAB to create this ultimate shoe cleaning kit, featuring everything you need to keep your sneakers fresh: sneaker cleaner, sneaker protector, odour protector and a bamboo brush. The items are designed to work effectively on all fabrics, including suede, nubuck leather and canvas.
Church's Shoe Care Kit
Church's is one of the most celebrated British shoemakers, so its shoe care kit is guaranteed to be top quality. It includes an applicator brush, upper brush, black polish, neutral polish, cleaning cloth and shoe horn, all packaged up nicely in a beautiful fabric and leather travel kit.
Myrqvist Engraved Shoe Tree
Made from high quality aromatic American red cedar wood, this beautiful pair of shoe trees from Myrqvist is designed to absorb moisture and odours from your shoes while keeping them in excellent condition. The clever construction allows the shoe to adjust in three dimensions, filling it for a precise fit. For an extra personal touch, have your shoe trees engraved, with Myrqvist's special laser cutting service.