CALF LEATHER SHOES AND THEIR CARE

Irk Derby Shoes, 7wk Last, Double Sole - Lissom + Muster x Alfred Sargent

Our Irk shoes - named after the River Irk in Manchester - are built on Alfred Sargent's 7wk last - a classic and clean gibson (otherwise known as derby) shape with a rounded toe, which suits our unembellished, modern aesthetic.  The shoe is manufactured with goodyear welt construction, which ensures the soles can be refurbished periodically without compromising the integrity of the shoe.

Calf leather is used by the best makers to make footwear with a smooth unblemished outer surface. 'Full Grain' leather has not been 'corrected' aesthetically, such that all of the original pores, structure and desirable characteristics of the leather remain in tact. 

To care for your calf leather shoes, we recommend brushing them down after each wear with a relatively stiff bristle brush (pig/boar are commonly used, or coarser horsehair) . This will remove accumulated dust, dirt and scuffs which can dry and weaken the leather. Soft brushes are designed for buffing rather than dusting down - they won't do here. You can use a similar brush with chiselled ends for removing dirt and mud (in this case keep two brushes spearately though - one for mud and one for everyday dusting down).

Inserting well-fitting wooden shoe trees will help to remove moisture from the leather and restore the shape of your footwear. Lasted trees (designed specifically for the shape of a particular size and model of shoe) are the best you can do, but a good quality sprung tree will expand to the shape of your shoe and is usually perfectly fine.

Use a good beeswax polish to create a shine and protect your footwear from dirt and the elements. I prefer to apply polish with a brush to help keep the layers of wax suitably thin. The purpose of wax polish is to create a shell on the outside surface of the leather. It is in the building of multiple thin polished layers over time that a lustrous shine is formed. Another horsehair brush can be used to buff the polish to a high shine - again keep your polish applicator and buffing bushes separate.

Periodically, use a good quality shoe cream to nourish the leather. The advantage of cream is that it can penetrate deeper into the leather than paste wax.  Good quality creams will usually contain more colour pigment than paste wax, also. If you intend to put away your shoes for a while (for the winter season, for example), apply some cream first.  If your shoes have been exposed to a lot of dust, or rain, or snow, for example, they will need some nourishment to restore the leather's natural oils.  Take care to include the stitches, welts (the side of the sole), tongue and seams. Cream can also be applied with a brush and polished off with horsehair brushes or a soft, lint free cloth.

It is worth noting that the better makes of beeswax polish and lanolin shoe cream will each contain all of the ingrediants necessary to both nourish and shine leather.  But the proportions of these ingredients differ - paste wax has a higher quantity of beeswax; lanolin cream contains more pigment and is more nourishing. So they work very well together, but a tin of paste wax on its own - if used well - will do a good job of maintaining your shoes. 

There are a vast array of additional shoe care products which you may find useful from time to time - renovator cream for example can be used to periodically remove grime or excessive layers of polish, products for suede care and winter salt stain remover, for example.  But the small collection of products above are all you will need to keep your shoes in good condition and ensure years of use. 

Take the time to look at your footwear - brush them down well at the end of the day and examine the stitches and the wear on the sole from time to time. By taking time to look, you will develop a sense of what your shoes need. When the time comes, we can arrange for your shoes to be resoled and refurbished in the factory where they were originally made.

JR