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Background and Identification
A shoe is an item of footwear intended to protect and comfort the human foot while doing various activities. Shoes are also used as an item of decoration. The design of shoes has varied enormously through time and from culture to culture, with appearance originally being tied to function. Additionally, fashion has often dictated many design elements, such as whether shoes have very high heels or flat ones.
Contemporary footwear varies widely in style, complexity, and cost. Basic sandals may consist of only a thin sole and simple strap. High fashion shoes may be made of very expensive materials in complex construction and sell for thousands of dollars a pair. Other shoes are for very specific purposes, such as boots specially designed for mountaineering or skiing.
A cordwainer is someone who makes new shoes using leather, while a cobbler is someone who repairs shoes. Cobblers are also referred to as shoe repairmen.
Often, well-maintained men’s shoes can be resoled seven to ten times at a fraction of the cost of new shoes. High-quality women’s shoes can be resoled three to five times. Asking friends and colleagues is a great way to find good shoe repair shops. Some shoe stores also have online presences to cater to more clients. Consider a shoe store’s history when looking for a quality repair shop; if the store has been operating for more than ten years, it is likely a good place to start.
Americans have largely stopped repairing their shoes because it became less expensive to purchase a new pair of shoes and discard the old ones. However, it is almost certainly worth repairing expensive dress shoes because they are generally designed to be repairable. Generally, it costs less to produce things that are not designed for repair, like cheap canvas shoes and sneakers, so it can be less expensive to buy a replacement pair than to repair.
Common Types of Shoes
- Derby shoe
- High-heeled footwear
- Ballet flats
- Court shoes
Repairing Leaks, Cuts, and Holes
Permanently repair leather, canvas, and rubber boots and shoes using an adhesive that is flexible when dry. You can fix soles and make them waterproof and tough. Give your old shoes and boots new life with a touch of repair.
- Clean the damaged area and remove any dirt and grease.
- If there is a rip with a flap then hold it in place with some sticky tape on the inside. The same applies to a hole.
- From the tube, apply the flexible repair adhesive over the damaged area. Allow 5mm extra around the edges.
- Leave flat and allow to cure overnight.
- Remove the tape.
• Be sure to find an adhesive that advertises a degree of flexibility when dry, as solid dry adhesives like super glue may become brittle or form uncomfortable lumps in the soles of your shoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What shoes are designed to be repaired?
Many traditional dress shoes for men and women are designed to be repairable by cobblers. The heel of dress shoes is the easiest to repair and also the most likely to wear down over time. Most men’s and women’s dress shoes’ heels can have new rubber taps put onto them after the original rubber or leather wears down. Cobblers generally repair the heel by cutting off the section that is partially worn and cementing in a newly shaped piece of rubber. Shoe owners can simply tack on a new rubber tap over the worn-down area without making a trip to a shoe repair store. Cobblers can also remove old soles and attach new leather or rubber soles. Shoes with thicker one-piece modular midsole-outsole shoes (such as comfort shoes) are not really designed to be repaired in a traditional way. However, the soles of comfort shoes can be removed and replaced.
How to identify which materials are used in my shoes?
An indication of a shoe’s materials can generally be found on the shoe box if you still have it. Typically, leather shoes will have a symbol or wording indicating its materials on the waist of the shoe (under the arch on the outside of the sole).
On some shoes, a sticker on the bottom will list the materials. Materials can also be listed on the inside of the shoe, either on the lateral side near the heel or under the tongue. When there is not enough room at the sides of the shoe, the materials may be listed inside towards the front of the shoe. Materials can also be found on the manufacturer’s website if the shoe is still in production. This information can usually be found in the “Details” section of the manufacturer’s online description. Use the shoe material key on the right as a start for identifying the symbols that may be included in identification information.
What is the best glue for soles? How about wood glue?
Some of the best glues for repairing shoes include Boot-Fix Shoe Glue and Shoe-Fix Shoe Glue, which are professional-strength and flexible shoe glues that are advertised to bond almost instantly with no clamping. Long-lasting repairs and seal leaks on hiking boots, running shoes, climbing shoes, and cleats can be made with GEAR AID Shoe Repair Glue, which is a urethane adhesive previously known as Freesole. For shoe repairs, rubber cement, and other adhesives which are flexible when they dry are ideal because the adhesive needs to move with the shoe. Super glues can be effective at reattaching soles but tend to be brittle when they dry and may not be ideal for repairing shoes. Look for adhesives that advertise flexibility when dry.
Can you clean suede shoes in the washing machine?
The washing machine can be used for certain types of shoes, like tennis shoes or running shoes. Leather and suede shoes should never be put in the washing machine. Do not put any kind of shoes in the dryer, though, as the high temperatures can damage the glue that holds them together. Fabric shoes can also be cleaned by hand washing them in a solution of one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and two cups of warm water. Scrub the shoes using the solution and a toothbrush and wipe them off with a paper towel to dry. For leather shoes, use equal parts cool water and distilled white vinegar. Dip a cloth in the solution, wipe the shoes down, and let them air dry.
Cleaning suede shoes is a bit trickier. Use a suede-cleaning brush, an old toothbrush, or another soft-bristled brush and brush only in the direction of the fibers. Avoid moving the brush back and forth over the surface of the suede. Be sure that your suede shoes are completely dry before beginning to clean them; even a small amount of moisture can leave permanent stains on suede.
How to get creases out of suede shoes?
Suede shoes are less likely to crease from regular wear and tear if they are stored in a cool, dry space. Using a shoe tree to keep the material smooth and taut between wears can also reduce creasing. To remove creases from suede shoes, insert wooden shoe trees into the shoes to help them retain their shape. Then, plug in iron into an electrical outlet and preheat it to around 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (exposure to extreme heat will permanently damage the suede). Dampen an uncolored clean cotton cloth with warm water and wring out all excess water so the cloth is slightly damp (colored cloths may contain dyes that can transfer onto suede). Place the damp cloth on an inconspicuous part of the shoe to test the material’s reaction to the moisture. Apply the warm iron to the area and move it slowly back and forth. Avoid ironing the shoes for more than five to ten seconds at a time. Remove the cloth and inspect the area for any damage; if no damage is present, apply the damp cloth to the wrinkled or creased area and iron it. After, brush over all the ironed portions of the shoes with a suede brush or other soft-bristled brush to raise the nap. Store the shoes with the shoe trees still inserted to prevent future creases.
Can you have shoes dry cleaned?
Some dry cleaners offer specific cleaning services for shoes. An effective way to clean your shoes without spending the money to take them to the dry cleaners is using a solution of warm water and a small amount of laundry detergent or dish soap and a soft-bristled brush like an old toothbrush. Remove the shoe’s laces and apply a small amount of the cleaning solution, then message the laces, rinse, and dry with a soft cloth. Remove the shoe’s soles and apply the cleaning solution with a soft-bristled brush, brush the outsole and midsole, and dry with a soft cloth. Use the solution and brush to clean the uppers, then use a dry microfiber towel or soft cloth to blot and lift as much soap, moisture, and dirt as possible. Air dry at room temperature.