Shoe care is indisputably vital for everyone who wishes longevity for beloved footwear. Brushing the dust off each day when you arrive home, applying shoe creams every other Sunday, and resoling the welt when necessary can go a long way.
The problem, however, is that the said maintenance does not always reward you for your effort. The time you have spent on building up the high gloss on the cap toe does not necessarily equate to how long the gloss will realistically last.
Not anymore. Introducing Paul Brunngård — a new, luxury shoe care brand well on the horizon; with waxes, brushes, and more suitable for anyone who is looking to apply a quick shine or for experienced aficionados.
Designed in Sweden and engineered in France, Paul Brunngård's brand philosophy is to create premium shoe care with no compromise to form, function, and material. This is perhaps unsurprising, as the mastermind behind the brand is engineer Anders Sundström, whom some may know as the Swedish champion of shoe shining back in 2014.
When I visited Stockholm early this Fall, I had the chance to converse with Anders in person; to learn more about his vision for shoe care, as well as to inspect the entire range of PB products. It became clear to me, right off the bat, that craftsmanship and visual presentation are placed with high emphasis during the design process.
As Anders rightfully points out, 'shoe care was never meant to be stored away. We went back to the drawing board and designed each product from scratch using the finest material and construction.'
He adds, 'all the accessories are made in solid walnut wood while the construction is made with precision and portability in mind, not to mention the brushes are all hand-sewn using traditional craftsmanship for longevity and shedding-minimization.'
We need not look far but examine the wooden briefcase the engineer carefully designed to offer users a portable and compact way of carrying and storing shoe care products.
Notably, the interior of the briefcase is also lined with wool felt for extra protection, with integrated magnets for the slots that hold certain tools (more on that later), such that the latter can be fastened to allow users a faster and more innovative interaction. It is further complimented by a full-grain leather handle.
This is, to say the least, a massive yet reasonable step up from an old shoe box one may use to store his or her products at home; seeing not all of us require a bulky shoe care set that is commonly used by street bootblacks.
Speaking of the brushes, PB offers two types of polishing brushes — one made of the finest goat belly hair and the other of yak belly hair. Needless to say, it is the latter that really steals the spotlight.
As shown in the picture above, the yak version comprises two types of natural fibers, with yak belly hair in the center and goat hair along the edges. And there is a pretty good reason for this.
Anders explained to me that because of the thin, flexible, yet sturdy properties of yak belly hair, he is able to pack a much higher volume of hair into the brush than all the other alternatives. This, in turn, allows the brushes to take up more wax during the shoe-shining process. As for the goat hair, it is there to provide an extra level of rigidity.
Altogether, this offers a uniquely rigid yet dense and soft bristle that has a high capacity to gloss, not to mention it will last for years to come.
The Sole Edge Iron is yet another innovative product I am particularly intrigued by.
Let's be honest. Leather soles can hardly remain perfectly smooth and flat once you started wearing your shoes out, especially without careful maintenance interventions. Which can look quite odd next to a meticulously-glossed cap toe — it just brings down the whole appeal of an otherwise flawless-looking pair of shoes.
What this magnet-integrated tool sets out to do is restore the sole edge by pushing (colored) wax or cream into the sole leather, and compressing the worn and grainy sole edges to their original condition.
Similar to how you normally would apply shoe polishes on the leather uppers, you would apply the wax or the polish to the iron, then pull back and forth along the edges with constant pressure until a gloss or the smooth surface is restored. Do bear in mind that it is advised to use the concave side for the toe and heel, and the convex side for the rest of the edges.
Ultimately, it is not going to change the fact that the soles will gradually thin out and would need proper resoling, but it can at least tidy up and elevate the overall appearance of your shoes.
But no discussion on shoe care products is complete without actually examining the wax and the polishes.
Having observed Anders in action at the Shoegazing Blog Stockholm Super Trunk Show, as well as having tried the Sublime Wax and Spitshine myself on several occasions, I am confident to say they are notably superior to the other brands I have previously used.
Take the Spitshine as an example, which excels at its high gloss retainability and ease of application. When compared to the texture of high-shined surfaces achieved by equivalent mirror-shined products, the one glossed by PB's spitshine feels firmer and less penetrable (by water).
What this means is that your beloved shoes are less susceptible to what I would call 'bruises' when you accidentally kicked something. The time you have spent on building up the wax suddenly seems more justified, with this newfound resilience and durability.
Speaking of water penetrability, on one occasion, I walked for 20 minutes under a downpour of rain in my black lazyman shoes from Gaziano & Girling. Normally, I would expect white salt stains to manifest on the uppers once the shoes are dried up, and would require de-salination.
To my surprise, not only were there no white stains but also some level of gloss still remained. All I needed was a quick layer of the Sublime Wax and my lazymans returned to pristine conditions once more.
It's clear that PB has put a lot of effort into perfecting the choice of ingredients and the proportions of the formulations to achieve a wax with such superb qualities.
Using a mixture of natural oils, beeswax, and PB's unique rose wax, the soft and subtle properties of leather are preserved using the cream, all effortlessly executed without heavy industrial-smelling fumes saturating the air.
Moreover, solely utilizing natural waxes and turpentines also helps avoid issues of brittle cracking commonly found when applying inferior waxes, most notably the brown coal-based Montan wax.
All in all, I have included a short video of myself applying the Spitshine on the said pair of shoes. To say the least, PB's premium-quality products do speak for themselves.
For UK-based readers, PB products are available for purchase at Arterton London. You can use the code 'TSM10' for a 10% off for any PB products there. Follow us for the most up-to-date developments on PB.
Photography and Videography: Arterton London and The Suitstainable Man team