Refurbishing and de-creasing cheap shoes: An Experiment

Giving new life to some creased $70 monks.<div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url='http://dappered.com/2013/06/refurbishing-and-decreasing-cheap-shoes-an-experiement/' addthis:title='Refurbishing and de-creasing cheap shoes: An Experiment ' ><a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a><a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a><a class="addthis_button_email"></a><a class="addthis_button_pinterest_share"></a><a class="addthis_button_compact"></a><a class="addthis_counter addthis_bubble_style"></a></div>

Rebuilding the $70 Bronx Dekimo Double Monk 

“We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was before. Better…stronger…faster.”

- The Six Million Dollar Man 

DISCLAIMER: Don’t do this on shoes you really like. In fact, if you have a friend with busted shoes, try it on theirs!

If you remember the Bronx Dekimos from last fall, you may recall that my biggest beef was that they creased easily and the leather seemed rather thin. I also said that time would tell whether they would hold up or not. Well, the creases did get a little worse with time, and for some reason, the shoes actually started to lighten with age. I still liked and wore the shoes, but I wanted to do something about the turn they were taking.

I found methods online to reshape shoes by steaming, heating, or ironing, but I decided to go with ironing because, “Hey look! I have an iron!” Following directions I found online, I put the shoes in trees, wetted them, placed the wet rag over the area with creases, and pressed down with the iron on its hottest setting. No guts, no glory, right?

Ironing

Not gonna need the spray-starch for this job.

The good news was that it actually reduced the creases. The not-so-good news was that it completely removed the finish! I was literally left with a bald shoe. Well crap…

My first thought was, “That answers that. There go my shoes.” But before I got to the trashcan, I had another thought. “What if I just keep going?

I spent the next 30 minutes completely ironing both shoes, and wiping away the finish as I went. I was left with two completely bald, desiccated shoes. I applied two layers of Meltonian Shoe Cleaner & Conditioner to add some moisture back in. I allowed that all to soak in overnight, and it really helped to condition leather and even out the discoloration that had occurred from ironing. At that point I was left with a pair of blank slate shoes in a medium brown – something I thought I might be able to work with!

Baldy and Burgundy

Baldy on the left, with a layer of burgundy shoe creme applied on the right.

I decided I wanted them redder and darker so I applied two layers of Meltonian cream – one in burgundy and then again in dark brown. I really globbed it on and ended up removing most of it. I just rubbed it in with a washcloth until it started to cloud up and then rubbed off the excess with another clean washcloth. Usually, you would use a brush or polishing cloth for that, but I used a regular washcloth because I had a LOT of cream to remove and I needed more than a light touch. I then did the same thing with the second layer. Giving it multiple, different layers of color added some dimensionality to the shoes and got it surprisingly close to the color I had in my mind.

Materials

This was not your average shoe shine job.

Since the shoes only have Meltonian cream applied, they are still prone to scuffs. I intend to add a layer of wax polish to hopefully harden them up. Otherwise, the end result was surprisingly good. The creases are mostly gone, the color is much richer than before, and the finish looks much more natural. It’s an accidental upgrade!

The whole process probably took several hours of work spread throughout several days so I don’t recommend starting it if you’re not willing to finish it. For that matter, I don’t recommend doing it at all on a pair of shoes you’re not willing to lose. But if you’re feeling lucky, you might just turn the shoes you sort of like into the shoes you wish you had.

Finished Product

The Final Result: A richer color, a more natural finish, and less creases.

Editor’s Note: This article from Alan was started as a post on Threads, which is Dappered’s Forum. Head over here for the original. Many thanks to him for passing along all the extra pics.