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How to Increase the Lifespan of Men’s Leather Shoes Indefinitely

Updated on August 2, 2017

There is no doubt that the shoe repair industry is nothing like it used to be. Back in the 1930s, the ladies and gentlemen of the day could choose from more than 100,000 shoe repair shops, not to mention thousands more cobblers and shoe shine stands. Sadly, today there are less than 4,300 shoe repair shops. Ironically, despite the lack of cobblers, there are actually billions more shoes being worn.

One big reason the cobbler industry has been virtually wiped out over the years: the majority of shoes worn today are so poorly made they aren't even able to be resoled or repaired. Although some shoes are certainly more... eccentric... than others, most people wear cheap shoes imported from Asia or Latin America. These shoes are usually made with glue, vastly shortening their potential lifespan.

But just because the shoe repair industry isn't what it once was doesn't mean that you shouldn't do everything in your power to keep your shoes long-lasting, comfortable, and visually appealing, especially if they are designer leather shoes. Although the best designer leather shoes come with a hefty price tag, that's because they are made with far superior design, craftsmanship, and materials. Plus, they won't fall apart after a single season of moderate use.

In fact, with the right shoe care, you can make sure your designer leather shoes last indefinitely. Here are a few helpful ways to prevent damage to your nicer shoes and keep them lasting for much longer.

Polish and Condition Your Leather

In order to do a job well, you need the right tools. In this case, that means investing in leather conditioner and shoe polish before you take the shoes outside for the first time. We're going to cover some tips for repairing leather shoes and avoiding wear and tear, but conditioning your leather is the best way to actually prevent that damage from happening in the first place. Just like your own skin, leather loses its luster when it dries out, which is why conditioner is so helpful.

Never done this before? Here's how to use leather conditioner:

  1. Gently clean your shoes so they're free of any dust or dirt. If you use a damp cloth, let the shoes completely air dry.

  2. Gently rub a layer of leather conditioner into the shoes.

  3. Let the leather soak up the conditioner for at least one hour. If you have the time, let the shoes sit overnight. Remember that new shoes will often benefit from two coats of conditioner.

  4. Once you've wiped away any excess conditioner, shine and polish your shoes.

  5. Repeat as necessary every few months!

Polishing your leather shoes will increase their lifespan tenfold, and leather that is regularly treated with conditioner will still be usable after 100 years. However, if you want to be a true aficionado and really take care of those expensive designer shoes, purchase shoe trees for your closet.

Seek Professional Shoe Repair Assistance

Just because there aren't hundreds of thousands of repair shops in existence today doesn't mean you can't get the quality assistance you need to keep your leather shoes healthy and strong. Taking your leather shoes to a professional can help preserve your shoe's look and fit. These professionals will help you with the two most common types of shoe repair: sole replacement and heel repair. Sole replacements typically do not exceed $35 and heel repairs are even more affordable, costing about $12 for a pair.

Most people don't even realize this is an option, because most shoes aren't worth the price of repair. Don't be most people.

Make Sure You're Getting the Right Fit

A common misconception when it comes to shoe shopping is that a perfect fit is when little to no room is left in the toe area. That might feel snug and comfortable when you're trying shoes on, but after walking a few steps and realizing that your shoe actually extends one-third of an inch as you walk, you'll end up hurting your feet and damaging your shoes. When selecting a pair of shoes, leave about a half-inch of extra space in the toe area to avoid premature wear.

Polish and Condition Your Leather

Selecting the right pair of men’s dress shoes and getting professional help with damage is important, but the best way to actually prevent that damage from happening is to regularly polish and condition your leather shoes. Polishing your leather shoes will increase its lifespan tenfold, and leather that is regularly treated with conditioner will still be usable after 100 years.

PRO TIP: Whenever you are done wearing your shoes for the day, be sure to gently unlace and remove them by hand. If you roughly kick off your shoes you will wear them out much faster. Just as importantly, avoid wearing the same pair of shoes for more than two days in a row.

As long as you're taking care of your shoes and purchasing high quality designer leather shoes, you'll end up enjoying them for much longer than you would their cheaper counterparts.

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