Hirsute for Happiness

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The Art of Shoe Shine

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Shoeshine began as a means of making money from those who found traditional work due to age or education difficult. Known widely as beginning in New York it actually originates from London. Shoeshine UK aim to change this outdated image of shoeshine and have evolved the industry to levels unseen by incorporating patina (colouring of shoes) and military passed shines as standard whilst keeping the price cheap. We not only do shoes we have repaired sofas, bags and even car sunroofs

Shoeshine UK are an Artisan Shoeshine  and Patina service located at The London Hilton on Park Lane for the past thirteen years with the ambition of educating the UK public that shoe care is equally as important as a quick brush. Using my bare hands to apply all the products which is a skill that has taken many years to perfect I have reinvented the wheel of shoe shining.

The technical manual which is divided into nine stages  is incredibly precise, and very far from the basic brush issued around the world.  Brushes to me have no effect. If you applied cream to your face would you use a brush? I like to penetrate the leather with my bare hands giving care and a deep shine at the same time.  Believe what you see not what you read, redefining a dying artform this gives more control and you can feel the leather and what it needs and when it has had enough, it allows you to become one with the shoe, plus the client also gets a foot massage.

It begins by feeding the leather with three different creams a combination of Beeswax, mink oil from Saphir, Lord Sheraton leather balsam and Ultra Creme, then a leather massage, followed by applying a multitude of colours at each location of the shoe; this can darken and lighten at will to emphasize the slenderness of the foot. Yours shoes should be entitled to get as much TLC  as they need if you want to expand their longevity, and more to the point, if you want to look like a real gentleman. Shoes are a piece of artwork and should be treated so by both ladies and gentleman. We aim to encourage not only the business man who you would expect to use a shoeshine service but also ladies and younger gentleman who maybe have a misconception of what shoeshine entails.

Tips for caring for your shoes are:

  •  Don’t be scared of a shoe no matter the colour or fabric
  • Try to moisturise the shoe as well as polishing,dont moisturise with a brush as you need to penetrate the leather and will only achieve this by rubbing the cream into the leather.
  • Use a leather cream that doesn’t contain silicone and is preferably Beeswax based.I use Ultra Creme which acts as a cleanser aswell as a conditioner.
  • Buff off the cream after leaving a couple of mins to dry.
  • If you can add a second cream this time a conditioner Saphir creme or Lord Sheraton leather Balsam are perfect.
  • Avoid the off the shelf quick shine sponges because they dry the leather and leave a skin which slowly suffocates the leather
  • Concentrate on the side of the soles and back of heels as much as the uppers
  • Use a toothbrush to clean the welts as this removes all hidden dust and dirt
  • Add your polish, preferably a wax and oil based polish with low chemical content, build up one layer at a time, let it dry then add another and try to get a smooth application.I use Saphir from France and Angelus from USA.
  • Build up the layers from the toe in a circular motion and blend into the velt and sides of the shoe. • For every three layers that you add to the toe and heel add one layer on the rest of the shoe to avoid cracking etc.
  • Certain shoes take more polish than others and all shoes take more polish on the toe cap and heels so remember the 3 to 1 rule.
  • On very soft leather do the same process but lower the amount of layers or use a creme based polish the best being from Saphir in many varying colours.
  • Once you see a gloss under the wax buff with a large horsehair brush.
  • Finish with a pair of stockings
  • I use 60 denier but anything above 40 will produce a wonderful finish.

Join ShoeshineUK on Instagram or the website http://www.shoeshineuk.com/

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  1. John says

    Wonderful write-up! I was born and raised in New York City and can still remember the shine men. When I entered the business world as a younger man, I often took a shine while en route to Manhattan via ferry. These were craftsmen of the highest order! I foresee the return of the shine men and along with them, proper haberdashery gents, as the era of the New gentleman continues. The New Dandy-ism, if I dare say.


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