September 17, 2011

Care and Maintenance: Leather

Leather can be a little tricky to take care of but if you invest a little time, your leather goods can last you a long time. I am specifically covering straight leather in this post but I will get to suede and shearling later in the series.

I am starting with shoes since they usually take the most wear and thus, need the most attention. Keeping your shoes polished and conditioned will go a long way towards extending their life. How often you do this depends a little on how often you wear them, but you should polish or condition all of your shoes at least once a month.

Clearly, if you haven’t worn a pair since they were last polished you don’t need to do it again. A quick conditioning will refresh the shine and keep the leather from cracking.

You should give your shoes some time to rest, so if you can try not to wear the same pair more often than every 2-3 days. This will also greatly extend the life of your shoe.

Extra Tip : When you are not wearing them, try using cedar shoe trees. This will not only help your shoes keep their shape, but also absorb any excess moisture.

A sampling of my leather care products.
Top row (L-R): UGG Water & Stain Repellent; UGG Cleaner & Conditioner;
Angelus sealant for smooth leather; Kiwi Leather Lotion.
Middle: Travel kit by Joseph Abboud for Nordstrom; Similar kit opened up by Bloomingdales.
Bottom: Horsehair applicator brush; Kiwi shoe polish; Shine cloth; Horsehair shine brush.
Other leather goods such as bags and wallets can usually get away with a little less attention. While you certainly could polish you wallet, I can’t think of a reason why you would want to.

Again, it depends on how frequently you use an item but monthly or bi-monthly conditioning should generally be sufficient. I use Kiwi, but stop into your local cobbler and ask them for a recommendation if you are unsure of what product to use.

When it comes to waterproofing your leather, keep in mind that there is no such thing as 100% waterproofing.  That said, waterproofing products will help keep the water from soaking in and potentially ruining your item. There are a myriad of different products, each with their own pros and cons, so your decision should be based on how you use your leather item.

Extra Tip II : If a leather item gets wet, do not under any circumstances put it near heat to dry it out. Let it dry at room temperature and then give it some extra conditioning paying particular attention to the areas that got wet.

If you have any specific leather care questions, let me know. What tips do you have for taking care of your leather?

Stay stylish,
- JJ

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