We all like a little luxury in our lives, and when you have an expensive leather product with an unusual finish that you want to keep fresh, it doesn’t matter whether it cost £10 or £1000 – you still want to treat it with care! So I thought I’d put together a guide for protecting and caring for patent and suede leather shoes and bags.
First of all, the most important thing is to check with the company you purchased the product from about what they recommend. Brands like Russell & Bromley, Mulberry and L.K. Bennett all recommend specific brands or treatment for their products. In some cases, failure to use the recommended product could result in your warranty being invalid, as these higher end retailers are all happy to take in items to repair after you’ve bought them, provided you have followed the care instructions carefully. You may not always be given this information at the point of purchase, but often they will have guidance on their websites – or you can contact their customer services for more information. I haven’t experienced this personally, but I have heard, for example, that Russell & Bromley will repair shoes, but only if you haven’t taken them to your own cobbler beforehand. Always check first!
Secondly, you should note that this is advice from my own personal experience, and I can’t be responsible for any damage that could occur from following it… As with everything on the internet, do your research first, and always make sure you have tested any products you are going to use in an inconspicuous area before you begin using them.
Suede is gorgeous. I love suede shoes and bags – but let’s face it, suede is not the most forgiving of fabrics. Before you take the plunge and purchase a suede product, just ask yourself whether you’re prepared to baby it. Suede can rub off, get wet and grow damaged as a result, and the nap is easily disrupted by simple knocks that happen during the course of everyday wear. If you’re prepared for that to happen, you’re ready to purchase suede!
Mulberry recommend just one product for suede, and that is Collonil Waterstop Spray. You can purchase it at any Mulberry store (and they’ll even give you a lovely bag, too!) for £10. You should treat your bag (or shoes) with this spray once every six months at a minimum. However, before you do so, you should use a suede brush or sponge to remove dirt and fluff to ensure that the suede is clean. I use this Woly sponge which is recommended by L.K. Bennett. I’ve cut it into halves as I have navy suede items, and black suede items, and as you can see, some of the colour does come off onto the sponge. It just takes a very light brush and your suede will look in great condition again.
To apply suede protective spray, follow the directions on the can, and spray lightly, in small bursts, and from a distance. Do not let the item get soaking wet, and ensure that you cover or wipe off any embellishments, bag furniture, detailing, or heel material that isn’t suede right afterwards. Allow to dry for 2-3 hours after application. When I’m spraying my shoes, I like to put rolled up newspaper inside them to prevent the spray from touching the leather inside, as it can get incredibly damp and hard to dry off.
Just remember that this doesn’t protect your bag or shoes from the elements. Avoid wearing suede in the rain at all costs!
A final point is to avoid completely coloured liquids that are sold for the care of suede shoes. Not only can they ruin the nap of the leather, but they may not match the colour of your shoes and can result in a patchy effect when used. And, I’ve found them harder and more time-consuming to apply as well.
Patent is often thought of as being more durable than other kinds of leather, but it still requires special care. Two issues with patent leather are blemishes or marks which can appear when it gets rubbed, and also cracking, which can occur if you don’t take care to polish and nourish the leather between uses.
To take care of patent leather bags and shoes, I use Woly patent liquid, which is recommended by L.K. Bennett for their patent products. I have also used this on my black patent Jaeger Kate bag as well. It’s a white creme which you polish into the shoe using a duster or some other soft material – be sure to use one that won’t scratch. The same liquid can be used to try to remove patent marks that appear, but they can be very very stubborn and require several attempts to remove. Never try to remove marks without first checking with the manufacturer what they recommend, as some tips online (such as using nail varnish remover) can damage your finish.
To apply patent creme, you simply pour a little liquid onto the shoe and polish it in until it disappears. This should keep the leather supple and very shiny! As with suede protector, always purchase a colourless liquid – not only is it better, but it also means you only need one bottle for all your patent (or suede) products!
Now, if only I could buy something to get rid of marks inside the shoes! Pro-tip – this is what happens when you remove your shoes wearing tights, and stand on the dusty ground, and then get back in your shoes again. Where possible, do not do this…