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A Cobbler’s Guide to Protecting Your Shoes


Much as we love spring, it’s a fair bet the season’s going to bring a few unexpected showers with it—and your poor wingtips are going to suffer the consequences. So as a preventative measure, we’ve brought in one of L.A.’s foremost cobblers for a little wisdom on protecting your shoes from the elements.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. George Esquivel.

How do you recommend we protect our shoes from rain over the next few months? For a formal shoe, I would suggest polishing it up with a neutral color wax. It’s not a total waterproofing, but it acts as a water repellent and stain repellent while still letting the leather breathe. The brand I use is Angelus, made here in Southern California. I use neutral wax because I don’t like too much shine. Now, you can’t do that to suede because it creates this kind of oil effect that stains, but it should work for any leather.

What about after your shoes have already gotten wet? The best thing you can do is just let them dry naturally. Don’t stick them in the oven or put them in the heater—just take them off and give them time.

What can you do about scuffs and stains? Well, I’m a big proponent of natural wear and tear on your shoes I really think it looks beautiful, like a personal patina. But some people don’t like any scuff on their shoes. If that’s what you want, you can take it to a shoe repair place, and they’ll cover up the scuffs and polish them up again, but you can’t actually erase the scuffs. If it’s a deep gouge, the gouge is always going to be there.

What can guys do to keep up their shoes in the long term? The #1 thing is still, don’t wear the same shoes every day. What really kills shoes is the natural sweat and the wear on the inside. If there’s one style you love, just get a couple pairs and alternate them to give the leather and the lining a chance to dry out and rest.

The other thing is, people usually wait too long to get their shoes resoled. If the heel starts wearing at an angle, which happens a lot, it can throw off the whole balance of the shoe. Instead of walking straight up and down, suddenly you’re walking at an angle and you start creasing the components of the shoe in a weird way. Once you start seeing actual holes in the sole of the shoe, you’ve usually already messed up the structure of the shoe, and it could have been prevented just by bringing them in before those issues happen.

George Esquivel is the founder and designer of Esquivel Shoes.