Updated: Jan 18, 2019
Often I stress about the importance of having proper shoe care. Because when you invest in a pair of good-quality leather shoes, there's really no excuse for you not to take proper care of them.
In fact, you not only want to ensure its longevity, but also want to see how its patina evolves through your deliberate maintenance.
I suppose that's why I am always intrigued to explore different methods to enhance my shoe-shining techniques, as well as to try out different products to improve the patina.
During Pitti Uomo 95, I had the opportunity to discover this Japanese shoe polish manufacturer Columbus.
Columbus has been around since 1919, marking its 100th anniversary this year. It has predominately been producing different shoe care products for the Japanese market, as well as shoe polishes for shoe care chains in other places in the world.
As someone who is interested in shoe patination, however, what really intrigues me is its Boot Black Series, the premium branch which is said to be developed through working with shoe-shining professionals.
My first impression of the collection is that it has a wide range of shoe creams in terms of the color variations (as shown in the picture above).
This is certainly great to hear, especially for those of you who are concerned about getting a mismatch would severely alter the color tone of your precious investment.
With that said, the amount of colors isn't necessarily the most important aspect when it comes to shoe-caring. It is, after all, the quality of the cream and the waxes that matters.
To this, Kamiya-san from the Foreign Department of Columbus assured me that the shoe creams and waxes are all made with natural oil and waxes, meaning that they do not contain petroleum-based substances that could damage the quality of the leather.
To further demonstrate his point, Kamiya-san offered to have a pair of shoes shined by his shoe-shiners using products from the Boot Black Series.
It just so happened that my photographer was wearing a pair of rather ill-maintained Balmorals which required deep-rejuvenation, as shown in the picture above.
And in just 10-15 minutes time, the boots received a brand new appearance topped by a decent high-shine, as illustrated in the following picture.
To be fair, there is some room for improvements for sure. There are still some scuffing at the tip of the toe cap first of all.
It would also have been even better if the edge of the sole is being recolored (which in fact that actually sell Edge Crayons for that purpose!)
But considering it was a quick 10-15 minutes shoe-shine, it is rather impressive.
On top of that, I must also emphasize that only three products from the collection were used to achieve this effect, namely the Dark Brown shoe cream and polish, as well as a moisturizer called the Suede Rich Moisture (picture below).
I would say out of the three products that were applied during this shoe-shining process, this mist spray moisturizer is definitely the one I fond of the most, as it provides nutritional support napped leathers like suede.
The reason being it is formulated with natural argan oil, which is normally used for high-quality cosmetics for its outstanding hydrating properties.
So how do you use that? Simply by just spraying a soft layer around shoes about 20cm away and then brushing it off after it becomes dry, the leather would be completely rejuvenated with nutrients.
This product, by the way, will be officially launched in April this year; so be sure to keep an eye on them if you're interested.
Aside from that, what really captivates me is Boot Black's Artist Palette Shoe Cream.
A rather renowned product from Columbus, the Artist Palette Shoe Cream is a nutritional cream, formulated with natural waxes and again argan oil.
However, since the color pigments for these shoe creams are quite luminous, Kamiya-san suggested that they could also be used for patination as well.
Simply apply them along with a sensible amount of water like what you would do with other types of high-shine products, and you would be able to achieve a rather distinctive patina after applying several layers on top.
Then of course, the effects would still be quite far from, say, having it done by a professional patina artist. With that said, it is definitely a great opportunity to get creative on your own.
They are mostly in Japanese, however, but it should still be understandable enough to serve as a basic introduction for proper shoe-shining.
Photography: Dennis Tian