During lockdown we find ourselves with family and loved ones enjoying activities including reading, exercising, cooking and listening to music. Another suggestion to pass the time inside is to treat your Barker shoes to a shoe shine.
The importance of shoe care is essential in prolonging your shoes lifespan. Firstly, ensure your Barker shoes are not wet before inserting wooden shoe trees and removing the laces. Make sure all dirt and dust is removed with a horse hair brush prior to applying any products.
Good quality polish is vital to restore and nourish the leather and coloured polish comes highly recommended, as neutral tends to make the colour dull over time. To clean the welt use a welt brush and apply a small amount of polish around the entire welt of the shoe.
Next, take a cotton cloth and apply polish over the entire shoe small circular movements. Remember a little polish goes a long way and if the shoes haven’t been particularly well looked after, it may take a few layers of polish to bring out a shine.
Once your shoes have been thoroughly polished leave for anywhere between 20 minutes to overnight as the longer left results in further nourishment of the leather. Finally, use a horsehair polishing brush and in firm, long strokes, brush the shoes ensuring you get good coverage over the entire shoe. This removes excess polish on the leather while bringing out a shine caused by heat. For a higher shine, repeat the polish and buffing stages before re-lacing your shoes.
That's the basics of shining your shoes but there’s plenty of tips that can help you bring out the ultimate shoe shine. Here’s some recommendations by renowned shoeshiners from around the world:
“The best tip for achieving a mirror shine is waiting for the solvents to dry and evaporate before trying to buff it to a shine.
Most people cannot achieve the shine because they just don't wait.
As a result, that just pushes the wax around on the top of the shoe rather than wear a hard layer down to a smooth surface.”
- RINGO MOK, Fox Shine
“On the final stages of shoe shining, when trying to achieve the mirror shine, reduce the amount of water used each time. Concentrate on buffing, creating heat in the wax to generate the mirror shine.”
- JOHN ELLIOTT, Shoe Shine Ireland
"Use a good quality polish, prefferably one with a natural base such as beeswax, rather than a petroleum based polish that will ultimately dry out your leather footwear over time.
After removing excess polish with a soft horsehair brush, the easiest way to achieve a high shine finish is to use the heat created by friction. Buff using a soft cotton cloth (such as an old t-shirt) to achieve your desired result."
- KIRSTY UMBACK, Fortis Green Shoeshine
- YUTA SUGIMURA, Y's Shoeshine
Photography by Ringo Mok