About Glen

By profession I am a computer programmer, business analyst, and project manager. However, I have a love of shoes that occupies a good deal of my spare time by collecting, maintaining, and researching men's shoes of all styles. I currently have a collection of over 60 pair of dress shoes that I care for, and wear with pride (one pair at a time). I have spent the last 40 years of my life with an interest in good quality men's leather shoes, and want to share what I have learned with others.

Shoemerang

I was recently introduced to an interesting product called the Shoemerang. This product is an attempt at addressing the problems around traveling with shoe trees in your luggage.

The product gets its name due to its unusual 3 pointed shape. Although, if you throw one across the room it does not come back, unless you hit your spouse and then comes back rapidly. Fortunately, the Shoemerang is made of foam rubber, which also makes them very light.

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To put the Shoemerang into a shoe simply curve the longer point lengthwise and stuff it into the shoe as far as you can, then fold the other two points into the heel end of the shoe.

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The product I received fit my 11.5 D (US) shoe fine, but for shorter shoes you can trim the heel ends to better fit in the shoe.

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While the solution is lightweight, and therefore a big benefit when traveling, it does not provide nearly the support that a normal wooden (or even plastic) shoe tree provides.

If weigh was a major consideration when traveling, the Shoemerang would be useful in a pinch, but it is not a product I would use as a replacement for shoe trees on a regular basis.

For $20 a pair it is worth it to have them available if you need them for a trip.

You can find out more about the Shoemerang at www.shoemerang.com

Used Shoes

I recently received a request to review an app that allowed people to sell their used shoes. In this case the app was specific to women’s shoe, but I have seen other solutions/sites for this same purpose for either gender. And, of course you can buy used shoes from eBay as well as some fashion forums.

This is sometimes referred to as “thrifting” and can extend to garage sales, estate sales and of course thrift shops. The idea is to buy quality made shoes for a fraction of the retail cost.

Unfortunately, unlike most other items you can buy used and get some utilitarian function out of, shoes are very physically intimate. Although not quite the same as buying used underwear, used shoes will have bacteria in the leather that was introduced by someone else. All leather has some degree of bacteria, if it has been worn.

bacteria

The main source of bacteria in used shoes is due to foot sweat. While some people sweat very little through their feet, other sweat quite a lot. The average foot has about 125,000 sweat glands with the majority being located in the sole and ball of the foot.

Sweat itself is odorless, but it creates a beneficial environment for certain bacteria to grow and produce bad-smelling substances. These bacteria are naturally present on our skin as part of the human flora
Brevibacterium is a genus of bacteria that is extensively present on the human skin, where it causes foot odor. The familiar odor is due to Sulphur containing compounds known as S-methyl thioesters.

Propionic acid (propanoic acid) is also present in foot sweat. This acid is a breakdown product of amino acids by Propionibacteria, which thrive in the ducts of adolescent and adult sebaceous glands. The similarity in chemical structures between propionic acid and acetic acid, which share many physical characteristics such as odor, may account for foot odors identified as being vinegar-like. Isovaleric acid (3-methyl butanoic acid) is the other source of foot odor.

The acids in the various bacteria slowly break down the amino acids in the collagen proteins that the leather is composed of. This process happens quicker with the presence of water moisture (like sweat).
It is not a question of if there is bacteria in the leather of used shoes, it is simply a matter of how much and how active.

The second concern with used shoes is the shaping that has taken place in the insole foot bed and the leather shoe upper.

Most men’s dress/business shoes have a mid-sole (between the insole and the outsole) that is typically made of thick cardboard (<$200 shoes), corkboard composite, or thick leather. The insole is then laid (and sometimes glued) on top of the mid-sole. Over time, as the shoe is worn, the insole and the mid-sole will begin to compress when they receive pressure from the toes, ball of the foot, and the heel. Since each person’s foot is unique to everyone else, the compression patterns will be as well. Insole-worn

It will take a while for these compression patterns to be created, and the time will depend on a number of factors like how often the shoes are worn, length of rest periods between being worn, the weight of the person, how much the person’s feet perspire, the quality of the materials in the mid-sole and the insole, and so on.

Because it takes a while to create these compression patterns it also takes a while to create new compression patterns. Unfortunately, because the compression patterns already exist (to one degree or another) in a used shoe, your bone structure (toes, ball of your foot, and heel) will be pulled into the existing compression patterns, much like tires into the ruts of a road.
This can be mitigated to a large degree by replacing the outsole with a new outsole, but it will still have a tendency to compress into the existing compression patterns in the mid-sole.

The shoe upper will have also formed to the shape of the previous owner’s foot. And on contact points where the upper touches the foot, even a single millimeter of give can make the difference between comfort and tired feet at the end of the day.

The leather upper can be stretched in the proper placed for the new owner, but the stretch points created by the previous owner do not go away.
For me, I simply cannot find any value in buying used shoes.

Water Resistant Shoe Polish

Like most people with nice dress/business shoes I worry about water damage to my nice shoes in the late Fall, Winter and early Spring.

There are a number of water resistant solutions on the market, but most are for heavy leather like boots, or inverted leather like suede. These solutions typically include either heavy wax, heavy oil, or synthetic chemicals like silicone, or other toxic smelling chemicals.

I could not find an all-natural, non-toxic water resistant solution that was light enough not to smother my thinner dress/business shoe leather. I received recommendations to use mink oil and neatsfoot oil, but the amount I would have to use to make the leather water resistant would smother the leather, and potentially stain the leather.

I could have also went with galoshes, but I didn’t want to damage or hide the shine of my shoes.
swims-mens-rubber-galoshes

There has currently only been three ways to add water resistance to leather shoes:

  1. Seal the leather from the outside (heavy wax, silicone spray, goulashes and so on.)
  2. Fill the leather fiber with heavy oil (or other stuffing agents) so the water can’t penetrate the leather. This is done by stuffing the oils and other agents between the collagen fiber bundles (as you rub the oils in).
  3. A combination of one and two (usually silicone or other synthetic chemicals)

Water Proofing

Since I had already created the all-natural GlenKaren shoe polish line, I decided to see what I could do to make that polish more water resistant.

The beeswax and carnauba wax in the polish offer some minimal amount of water resistance (as most shoe polishes containing wax do), but I could not just increase the amount of wax because it would make the polish too thick and sticky and smother the leather from the outside.

I could increase the amount of coconut oil, but coconut oil is a highly saturated fat, and if not used in moderation could smother the leather from the inside.

I had to figure out a way to protect the individual collagen protein fibrils from water while still keeping them lubricated with oil, and not clogging the collagen fiber bundles.

Below is an illustration of a piece of leather, in orders of magnitude, down to the atomic makeup of a collagen protein fibril:
Leather Collagen Protein lines

To find a solution I had to extend my research further into how leather is made. I didn’t get into the animal husbandry aspect of how a baby calf is born, but I did do more extensive research on the steps of how leather is created in a tannery.

During a step called basification the pH levels of the leather are managed and the tannins are introduced which stabilize the leather and, along with the fatliquoring, keep it flexible and soft. In this process the tannins are bound to the collagen proteins through a process called protein binding.

A protective coating given to the collagen protein strands during the tanning process where the tannins and oils are hydrogen bonded to the collagen protein chains. Collagen’s high content of the amino acid hydroxyproline allows for significant cross-linking by hydrogen bonding within the helical structure. Tanning increases the spacing between protein chains in collagen from 10 to 17 angstroms, this additional space is filled with the hydrogen bonding the tannins (or chromium salts) and oils to the collagen. It is these bonded tannins and oils that increase the hydrothermal stability of the skin.

Binding

Using the idea of protein binding I decided to find a way to bind an all-natural, non-toxic solution to the individual protein fibrils. Borrowing from the tanning process where sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is used to assist in protein binding, I just needed to find something with a similar chemical composition that would also be a water insulator for the collagen protein.

That is when I came across sodium bentonite (Bentonite is also known as Montmorillonite). A natural clay used in beauty face masks, wine purification, health food additive, pet food additive, kitty litter, and pond liners. It has a lot of uses, and come in a food grade powder form.
woman with facial mask

Sodium Bentonite has some very interesting characteristics:

Similar to sodium bicarbonate, sodium bentonite has a strong ionic charge that assists in the protein bonding.

Due to the platelet structure of sodium bicarbonate and its atomic pattern at the molecular level it actually attracts water molecules and binds them to the outer layer of the sodium bentonite molecules, while the inner layer is bonded to the protein molecule, thus creating a protective sheaf for the collagen protein fibril.

Clay Stucture Sleeve

The platelet structure of the sodium bentonite actually expands to a degree as it is exposed to more water to create a tighter seal. Once the water evaporates the sodium bentonite contract back to its normal size. This is done at the molecular level so you wouldn’t see it happening, unless you poured a cup of sodium bentonite into a beaker and then added some water.

It is important to note that the sodium bentonite in the shoe polish will penetrate the leather with the oils, as well as stay on the surface with the wax, this allows for a double water barrier of sorts.

The amazing thing about sodium bentonite is that it only acts like a water repellant when exposed to water (even just one molecule of water), unlike wax or oils that must thoroughly coat or saturate the leather all the time to be effective. And, unlike oil, sodium bentonite cannot be flushed out by water (it can be removed with a cleaner like orange oil [GlenKaren Cleaner/Conditioner] or Saphir RenoMat).

If you have been looking for a water resistant shoe polish for your dress/business shoes and don’t want to use heavy waxes, oils, or toxic smelling chemicals please give the GlenKaren water repellant shoe polish a try. It is still made of the same all natural, non-toxic, ingredients, but with the inclusion of sodium bentonite.

The images below show a black Allen Edmond wholecut being sprayed with water, let sit for a period of time, then wiped off with a dry cotton cloth:
WR Black

For more information on ordering please go to the GlenKaren Care Products web site.

As a side note: GlenKaren Care Products still produce the standard polish line without sodium bentonite as well.

Mailorder Bespoke Shoes

The idea of having bespoke shoes produced through a mail order process would have never crossed my mind. Having gone through the multiple fittings, fitter’s model, and fine tuning of the Last, there is no way I could see this being done through a mail order process. That was until I was introduced to the concept of sending my feet to the shoe maker.

I was contacted by a representative of Adler Shoes a while ago to see if I would be interested in writing an article about their shoes, and their bespoke process. After doing a little research I thought it would be quite interesting to try their process out.

The package containing the casting socks and other materials arrived a couple weeks later. And, I have to admit, that at first I had a little trepidation about trying to make the casts. The kit came with latex gloves and plastic sleeve socks, along with the casting socks.
AdlerKit

I put off making the casts until the following weekend.

It wasn’t as hard as I had feared, but it wasn’t as simple as putting on a sock either. Once the casting sock is soaked in a bowl of water it becomes progressively sticker before it dries. The plastic sleeve socks and the latex gloves keep it from sticking to your hands and leg hair, but not from sticking to itself to some degree and making the process a little more challenging.

From this experience I derived a number of suggestions to make the process less challenging.

First, make sure to use very cold water, this slows down the curing process while you are putting on the casting sock so it is a little less sticky, and it gives you have a little more time to get it on. Also make sure to use the plastic sleeves as they are absolutely necessary.

PlasticSleeve

Second, you have to roll the sock on. In the US the typical men’s dress sock comes in crew length, so it is common for men to stick their thumbs inside the sock and pull it up around their foot and ankle in one motion. Over the calf (OTC) socks must be rolled (or compressed) so that you start at the toe and roll the sock up around the foot and leg. You must roll the casting sock up around your foot and ankle.

Third, even though it looks like there might be a heel in the sock because of the way it is folded, there is not. Find the seam across the end of the toe of the sock and use that as your guideline.

Fourth, have a comfortable place to sit while putting on the sock, and be sure to use something to protect your floor from the sock, and your sock from the floor.

Actually, I think the best advice would be to have your spouse or a friend put the sock on for you. It will actually be much easier, but make sure they know how to roll a sock on to someone else’s foot (perhaps practice with a real sock first). My wife opted out on this suggestion, so I put the socks on myself.

SockOn

Fifth, once both socks are on be sure to stand up, and stand still, for about 6 minutes (instructions on timeframe and process are included with the kit). Have your cell phone close by in case someone calls. This gave me a chance to catch up on some current event news on my smart phone while I waited.

Sixth, after the casting socks have cured you will need to cut them off your feet. You may want to use safety scissors (with the blunt rounded tip). I used regular pointed scissors, but I was careful not to poke myself. Be sure to have your scissors within reach because you will not want to (and should not) walk with the casting socks on.

You will want to cut the socks from the top down to your heel, next to your ankle. Pull the cast away from your leg gently while wiggling your foot. Try to keep from cracking the cast across the heel. The more intact the cast the better.

CastSide

Once the casts were off I used the rubber bands, I had used on the plastic sleeves, to hold each cast together. I then boxed them up and shipped to back to Adler Shoes. Since I live in the United States I was able to send them to their Chicago processing center.

CastsComplete

Now I just had to be patient and wait the 3 months it takes for Adler Shoes to create a set of lasts based on my foot shape, and hand build a pair of shoes around them. This timeframe is much shorter that a typical bespoke build time that takes around 9 to 12 months (sometimes longer).

Once Adler Shoes has the foot shaped casts, forms are made, trimmed and modified as needed with the result being a set of lasts that represent the shape and size of each of my feet. It is important to note that no two feet are alike (not even your own two feet). It is typical for one foot to be almost a half-size larger than the other, and the other being thicker than the longer one. This issue is addressed with bespoke shoes. My shoes will not be my typical US 11.5 D, but rather fit specifically for each foot in size Glen.

Adler Last Large

The shoes are 100% handmade from the template production for each individual shoe to the leather cutting to the upper stitching (where they do use Singer) but then, their master cobblers do their magic with old fashioned hand tools. Even the Brogue holes are punched by hand with precision hand tools made in Germany. The finishing is also done by hand by their experienced finishers.

There are a number of shoe styles to choose from, as well as an array of colors and skins, from calf to crocodile and a number of animals in-between.

Adler Collection Small

This is just a sample of what is available. For more detailed information, and to get your own bespoke shoes, please visit Adler Shoes

The average price of a pair of Adler shoes is around $500 to $600 USD with the exotic leather getting up into the $1.5K range.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, I finally received my bespoke Adler shoes. And, although it seemed like forever, the shoes actually arrived within 3 month (almost to the day) from when I sent in the casts. Given the quality and craftsmanship that goes into the shoes, 3 months is actually a pretty quick turnaround.

The shoes are beautiful.

New Shoes

The fit was great, the shoes were comfortable, and after a day’s wear they were just as comfortable as when I first put them on. I suspect they will continue to be comfortable as the years go by.

I wanted to compare the Adler shoes to similar shoes I own to give you an idea where the shoes fit into my collection. I put them between an Allen Edmonds shoe and an RTW (Ready To Wear) Berluti shoe, which is quite a range. And, even this is not a direct comparison since the Allen Edmonds and this Berluti are machine built shoes.

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I felt that the Adler Shoes were a great value for the price because you get truly hand built shoes, constructed from quality material by master cobblers and craftsmen, built on lasts created from your own feet. And, while I would have to admit that a bespoke Berluti would be a superior shoe, it would also cost around 10 times what an Adler shoe would cost.

I love my Adler Shoes!
MyAdlerShoes

Suede Cleaning and Conditioning

Cleaning and conditioning suede is rarely done properly, and is usually done using rather harsh, smelly, chemicals.

The biggest concern with suede is staining, which is why spray-on suede protector is so popular. While this will protect the suede from getting stained to some degree, it is not that good for the longevity of the leather.

The trick is to get over the concern of your suede getting stained, knowing that it can be cleaned without too much trouble, and without harsh chemicals.

Of course you want to avoid getting stains on your suede if you can, and suede does stain rather easily.

The first thing to understand is that water is not the enemy of suede, if used properly. Water will stain suede, just like any other liquid. But, if water is used for cleaning, and covers the entire suede produce all at once, staining by water can be avoided. You will want to use water to help clean your suede.

Water by itself will probably not be sufficient to clean your suede, so you will want to use something designed for cleaning. The best thing I have found is shampoo. I actually use American Crew as my personal shampoo, mainly because it uses coconut oil for the conditioner, and it is specifically a men’s shampoo. The coconut oil in the shampoo also works great as a conditioner for the leather.

In my example I have used a casual leather sneaker with a suede cap toe. The toe has a stain that came from who knows where; I just looked down one day and there it was. I was hoping that it was honey or something similar with a sugar type base that would dissolve easily in water, but it could have been cooking oil which is more difficult to remove.

Fix1

Before I begin my cleaning I gather what I need to do the job: I like to use a sea wool sponge to soak leather (suede, calf or whatever), I use a nylon bristle fingernail brush for brushing suede, I needed about a tablespoon of conditioning shampoo (with coconut oil), and of course water (bottled is better than tap, but either will work).

Sponge and Brush 400

Shampoo and Water 400

I was only cleaning the cap toe of a pair of shoes so a tablespoon was really too much, but I felt a teaspoon might have been too little. It doesn’t have to be exact; if you have too much you can just rinse it out, too little and you just add a little more shampoo.

Always add the shampoo to the water, never put the shampoo out of the bottle directly on the suede as the concentrated oils will stain the shoe.

Once you have mixed the shampoo thoroughly in the water (about 1 tablespoon to 2 cups of water [or 1 16oz bottle of water]). Soak the wool sponge in the water, but not to the point it is dripping. Blot the sponge on the suede to transfer the water/shampoo mixture. Make sure the suede is saturated, doing one shoe at a time so it does not dry out.

Fix2

While the suede is still saturated take the fingernail brush and brush the suede briskly. Keep in mind that you are trying to scrub out the stain, but also brush the entire suede area (the whole shoe, if it is all suede). While the suede is wet the stain you are trying to remove may not be visible, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone. When the suede dries, if some semblance of the stain remains you can repeat the process.

Be sure to allow the suede to dry naturally. Forcing suede to dry (like using a blow dryer) will damage the leather.

If you want to make sure all of the shampoo has been remove from the suede, you can rinse out the sponge in clean water and repeat the cleaning process with just water.

Once the suede is dry and clean you can brush it again to smooth out the desired direction.

Fix3

Belts and Shoes

Belts are an important part of any man’s wardrobe (unless you’re a suspenders only guy). A belt is also probably the only other part of your wardrobe, other than your shoes, to be made of leather (wallets don’t count as wardrobe, but a leather watchbands do).
leather-belts

When selecting a belt to wear some specific things need to be taken into consideration:
Color:

  • The color of the belt should be similar to the color of your shoes. Don’t wear a brown belt with black shoes or vice versa. There are some shoe designs that include both black and brown leather that allow you to use either color of belt.
  • The shade of color between belt and shoes should be similar. Don’t wear a light brown belt with dark brown shoes.

Leather Type:

  • As in shoes, smoother is more formal, textured is less formal. Only wear belts with a shine with shoes that have a high shine. Less formal shoes require less formal belts; for example a suede belt can be worn with suede shoes. The textures do not have to match however; shade and shine are the main considerations.
  • Don’t mix and match exotic animal skins. An alligator belt can be worn with similar color shoes, but keep in mind that an exotic animal skin is less smooth that a calf skin and therefore less formal (even though it costs more). You should not wear a lizard skin belt with alligator skin shoes or vice versa. Stick to one exotic animal at a time; you don’t want to be a walking zoo.
  • Exotic Belts

    Buckle:

    • Again, smoother (and smaller) is more formal.
    • Typical colors are metal tone gold or silver. Unfortunately, most men don’t have nearly the experience that women do in coordinating metal tone pieces within a wardrobe. Silver should be used with black and gold should be used for brown. This relates to the concept of city and country colors in clothing. Black and gold can work together if the gold tone is coordinating with other gold tone metallic objects in the wardrobe. Brown and silver can work as well.
    • Always keep the colors of your wardrobe in mind when picking out a belt, including the metal tone of the buckle.

    Another general rule to follow when buying a belt is to buy it in 2 sizes larger than your waist size, so if you have a 34” waist, buy a 36” belt. This allows for the end of the belt to wrap to the proper distance past the buckle.

Construction Quality Terminology

When buying higher quality shoes, that are made using methods beyond basic automated construction, you will run into some terms that are used to describe the degree of craftsmanship that went into the construction of the shoe.

The first step up from basic automated construction is Benchgrade. The term Benchgrade comes from the idea that the shoe starts at a bench where a person assists with a mostly automated process, but helps guide the shoe through the process at times.
benchgrade

The next step up is Handgrade. Handgrade implies a more hands on approach in combination with some automated processes. It also includes addition steps and attention to detail like closed channeled stitching on the sole (stitching not exposed on the sole bottom), higher quality materials, and some hand finishing.
handgrade

The next step would be Hand Made, but this term is used rather broadly. Although some manufacturers use the term Hand Made to refer to Handgrade, it should include more hands-on work and less automation. An example of a Hand Made shoe would be one that is hand lasted, but not necessarily Hand Welted.
handmade

A Hand Lasted shoe is one that has had the leather upper stretched over the last by hand and tacked down to the insole.
hand lasting

A Hand Welted shoe is one that has the welt hand sewn, but the sole may be attached to the welt by machine or by hand.
hand welting

A Hand Sewn sole can be sewn to a welt or directly to the insole. A shoe with a hand sewn sole is the highest level of hand made
hand sewn

The next step after Hand Made is Bespoke. Bespoke shoes are typically Hand Lasted and Hand Welted and/or have hand sewn soles. Top grade leather or exotic skins are commonly used in Bespoke construction. One of the main things that set Bespoke apart from other processes is that the shoes are built to fit your feet specifically. Bespoke does not come in a size 10 or 11, in comes in size YOU. Typically, in Bespoke, a last is created or modified to match the size and shape of each of your feet. The shoes are then built by hand using the last, and other measurements taken of your feet.

Another aspect that can be found in Bespoke shoes is a fiddle waist, where the sole, in the area of the shoe waist is built up to offer more support in place of a shank.
fiddle waist

Sitting somewhere between Handgrade and Bespoke is Made to Measure. Made to Measure uses stock patterns and stock lasts that are slightly modified using measurements provided by you to create a pair of shoes that fit your feet better than a pair of RTW (Ready To Wear) shoes, but are not built by hand or measured to the detail of a pair of bespoke shoes.
made to measure

Handmade Shoes

I was recently introduced to a line of handmade shoes that retail for a great price point. Handmade shoes usually fall into the +$500 USD price point simply because of the labor costs, and the materials tend to be of higher quality in handmade shoes.

Jose Luis Rocha of JL Rocha was kind enough to let me try out a pair shoe from his current line www.joseluisrocha.com. I chose the 419H Leather Loafer in honey stain calfskin.

JL Rocha Loafer

It is a beautiful shoe, inside and out. The shoe is fully leather lined with good overall flexibility. The finish on the leather was very good, and the attention to detail was very good as well. It is actually rather easy to see the handmade quality.

JL Rocha Loafer 2

Simply because a shoe is handmade is no guarantee that it is a quality shoe. It is also important to note that while a bespoke shoe is handmade, a handmade shoe is not inherently bespoke. What makes a great shoe is fit, quality craftsmanship, and quality materials.

The fit of the JL Rocha shoe was excellent. They were snug in the heel and comfortable around the vamp. There was no real break-in time required, and they had just the right amount of slippage for a loafer. The heel cup and counter was shaped very well, which I would expect from a quality handmade shoe.

The JL Rocha shoes are what I consider to be a little fashion forward, with a slightly longer toe in most cases, and a slimmer profile, as compared to something like Allen Edmonds shoes where the general shape of the Last line is more conservative.

Compare Shoe Shape

The Rocha family has been involved in the leather and manufacturing business for generations, and have been producing quality handmade footwear under the Ackerman brand in Mexico and South America. Jose Luis has now introduced the line to the United States, and the world, under the JL Rocha brand.

Hand Shoe

Now here is where it gets interesting: The handmade shoes in the current JL Rocha line sell for less than $300 USD. A quality handmade pair of shoes for less than $300 USD is hard to come by, so I had to let my readers know about the JL Rocha line.

JL Rocha Shoes


JL Rocha Logo

Proper Brushing Technique

shoe-brush

Shoe brushing is a combination of science and skill. In order to have the proper skills you need to understand the science.

Shoe (or boot) brushing serves a few purposes:

  1. Helps remove surface dust collected while not in use. For shoes that are actually dirty, you should use a different brush for removing the dirt first.
  2. The friction warms up the wax and oils slightly, which helps disburse them across the shoe.
  3. Crossing brush patterns help smooth the wax for a better shine.

A critical aspect of shoe brushing to be considered is the amount of wax that is on the shoe. The more wax on the shoe, the more difficult it will be to produce a shine due to drag (brush stroke impedance). Starting with a very thin coat of polish/wax is best. You want the brush to flow smoothly and quickly.

Initial brush stroke weighting (pressure) should be about 60% through (parallel to the surface) and 40% down (toward the surface). This will allow you to properly spread the wax. Brush strokes in a diagonal hash pattern. You should avoid brushing directly across the shoe or directly along the length of the shoe as it will diminish the shine.

Once you have gone over the shoe with the 60/40 weighting once or twice, reduce the pressure to 70/30 weighting and continue to brush completely another four to ten times. Finally reduce the weighting to about 80/20 and brush the shoe a final two or three times.

As the weighting ratio changes so should the velocity of your brush strokes. The lighter the downward pressure, the faster the stroke should become. The exception to this is the final brushing or two that should be at a moderate pace. Brush stroke pace would be defined as follows: two strokes per second is slow, six strokes per second is fast.

The full process should be done with shoe polish, and may be done more than once in a single sitting. But, you need to avoid adding too much polish. To test if you have too much polish/wax on the shoe simply slide your finger across the surface of the shoe lightly. If your finger seems to drag on the polish, it is too thick. Keep brushing with a shoe brush until you feel no drag with your finger.

You do not have to add polish each time you brush your shoes. If fact you should only add polish about every three or four wears. You should brush your shoes lightly to moderately each time before you wear them however.

The typical shoe brush is made of horse hair, but you can also get shoe brushes in boars hair and goats hair. Boars hair is stiffer than horse hair, and goats hair is softer than horse hair. Boars hair brushes are more typically used for cleaning dirt from shoes, while goats hair brushes are more typically used for final brushing or touch up between shines.

As a side note: do not brush a spit/bull shine with anything other than a cotton, or other smooth cloth.

New Shoe Brand

I was recently contacted by a company named InSoul Footwear that wanted to get the word out about a new line of footwear they are looking to release.

They refer to their shoes as a Dress Sneaker, and while I am no big fan of the slow drift the world is taking away from the classic concepts of dress/business footwear toward the more casual, I do understand the value and comfort of casual dress.

One of the things that I really liked about their footwear was the amount of style (and leather) they infused into the shoes to create a very interesting cool, casual almost rugged elegance type of footwear. Personally I would wear the brown low tops sockless with board shorts and linen Tommy Bahama camp shirt.

If you wear sneakers as part of your casual wear, I think these shoes would be a great way to bump up your style points.

Please help these guys make this project successful if you can so these shoes are available.

Below I have included an excerpt of their promotional text and images of the shoes:

Dress Sneakers by InSoul

So what do you get when you fuse athletic sneakers with beautifully hand crafted dress shoes?

Introducing DRESS SNEAKERS by InSoul Footwear.

InSoul is a brand that celebrates the evolution of shoes. The brand’s core is rooted in American sports styling but aspires to achieve the detailing of a rich dress brand. The toe shapes and silhouettes are kept understandable. They focus on all the right details. High quality materials including, hand oiled leathers, rich linings, classic waxed laces, antiqued eyelets and subtle logos are essential. Everything is purposefully chosen…all the way down to the stitching.

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Founder and creator, Sean OShea, has over 15yrs of design experience working for major brands such as Nike, Adidas, Converse, Ralph Lauren, Diesel and more. His vision of InSoul was born through personal evolution and experience in the professional fashion industry. He believed many people grew up wearing athletic sneakers, however as adults fell in love with the quality and craftsmanship only found in dress shoes. Sean’s idea was simple…he set out to bridge the gap between athletic sneakers and high quality dress shoes.

Now with final samples completed InSoul Footwear is challenged with raising the funds required to pre-pay for their initial round of production. To achieve this milestone they have launched “Dress Sneakers by InSoul” on Kickstarter:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/insoul/insoul-dress-sneakers?ref=search

You can help by “pledging” (pre-ordering) a pair for yourself or someone special in your life today. Other pledge options are available, please contribute and circulate.

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