We have to deal with a lot of rain here in the Pacific Northwest, but that shouldn't mean we can't buy and wear nice things - like shoes. We talked with Nordstrom Shoe Shine Manager Brent Perkins on how to take care of your shoes, puddles be darned.
What tips do you have for taking care of your nicer shoes (rain or shine)?
When you purchase a new pair of shoes, it’s always a good idea to get a pair of shoe trees to go along with them (cedar is best). Trees will ensure that your shoes maintain their form for years to come, and cedar also has moisture wicking and deodorizing properties that will keep your shoes looking and smelling good.
Leather shoes should be polished when they are still new, as this will cut down the chances of incurring permanent damage on the leather surface. Leather wax and creams do three main things; moisturize the leather, protect the leather by creating a surface barrier, and give it a shined look. As a rule of thumb, shining your everyday shoes every 2-3 weeks will keep them in good shape. In most places you can get away with every month or so, but our rainy climate means we have to shine more frequently.
What are some rules to know about getting leather shoes wet?
One thing that makes a huge difference in maintaining leather soled shoes is getting them “zip soled.” That’s when a rubber overlay is placed over the natural sole, and it’s best to have this done when the shoes are still new. It’s always best to avoid permanent damage before it happens, so you don’t have to worry about salvaging your favorite pair after the fact.
The zip sole acts as a barrier between the leather uppers and the wet/rough ground. Most water damage is done from the bottom up, rather than top down, because the leather soles act as a sponge wicking water right to the leather uppers creating a wavy water line. Unfortunately once salt stains have appeared, they can’t be removed.
If you have gotten them wet, how do you care for them? Or are they goners?
If you get caught in the rain, wipe the water off as soon as possible – don’t let it sit on the surface. If a shoe becomes too saturated it can create permanent stains. Suede shoes should never be worn in the rain. That being said, they should always be protected with a rain and stain guard when they are new and every time they are cleaned. Suede should never be spray protected while still dirty, because it will actually lock the stains in.
Nordstrom often send shoes to local shops they trust for repairs, what are those shops?
All of our stores partner with local shoe repair shops to offer full repair services to customers. The downtown Seattle Nordstrom, for instance, has worked with Emerald City Shoe Repair for many years to offer customers repair services. Repairs typically take about a week though that can differ depending on the amount of work required. Simple maintenance like shoe shining and stretching can actually be done in-store in many of our locations including downtown Seattle, Bellevue Square and Alderwood Mall.
Any other shoe care recommendations?
Just because a shoe costs hundreds of dollars does not mean it will or should wear like iron. As a rule of thumb, the more a shoe costs the more you should baby it. This is because expensive shoes are often made with delicate materials like suede, or include more intricate details like burnished tips (a stark color transition fading from a dark to light shade up or down the shoe), which require gentle and frequent care.