Are You Guilty of One of These Shoe Crimes?
To make sure that you get maximum value out of your shoes, we've compiled a list of common reasons why your shoes might be wearing out earlier than they need to.
The Accused: The Marinator
The Crime: 'I love these shoes so much, and they're perfect for work AND weekends! I'm going to wear them to work EVERY day...and weekends...and sleep in them!'
'I'm a dude, I only need one pair of shoes'
The Sentence: You will have stinky shoes that break down from the inside out.
We've all had a pair of shoes that we love so much we want to wear them all the time - the perfect shoes that fit wonderfully, are perfectly comfortable and go with every outfit. But if they're that good, we suggest you get two pairs and alternate them from day to day.
When we wear shoes, our feet perspire, and that perspiration gets soaked up by the material of the shoes, leaving a wonderfully warm and damp environment full of dead skin cells (eew) which is the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. When you give them a day or two between wears, it allows the shoes to dry out. This will prevent perspiration from building up in the shoes (in the industry, we call this 'marinating'!), which can shorten the life of the lining and foot bed, and lead to some seriously funky smelling feet!
The Accused: Cinderella
The Crime: 'I love these shoes SOOO much that I'm going to keep them on their own shelf and only take them out to wear them to the fanciest ball in all the land!'
The Sentence: You will wear your shoes to the ball, only to have them disintegrate into a crumbly, sticky mess.
This strategy may have worked back in the good ol' days when shoes were made entirely of leather and stitched together. These days, we have all types of shoes that are made out of fancy new materials that provide better shock absorption, comfort and durability. However many of the new materials are designed to be worn, not to be kept in a museum. Blown polyurethane soles are a prime example of a component that doesn't like to be left on the shelf. When stored for long periods of time these soles can undergo a process called Hydrolysis, where small amounts of moisture become trapped in the tiny bubbles that give the sole it's comfortable spongy quality, and actually cause the material to break down. The result of this process is sticky, crumbly soles that you can pull apart in your hands.
The Accused: The Stylish Hiker
The Crime: 'I'm so stylish, that I'm going to do the Kokoda trail in this stylish pair of dress shoes. Don't worry, the leather's so soft that it won't hurt my feet.'
The Sentence: You will forever be angry about how quickly your shoes wear out.
The clever people who make shoes go to a lot of effort to ensure that shoes will be comfortable and durable - when used for the purpose for which they were intended.
If you're going to go hiking through rough terrain, wear hiking boots - not runners. Hiking boots are usually made from tough top grain leather treated with a waterproofing agent, as well as fabrics like GORETEX that are breathable, tough and water resistant, they are also usually given some sort of antimicrobial treatment to prevent the nasties that will cause your shoes to rot or even just smell bad when exposed to the elements. The same goes for dress shoes/heels versus a pair of proper walking shoes. Or fashion boots versus work boots. Or shoes that were designed to withstand orthotics versus shoes that weren't. Or shoes that are not the appropriate width for your feet.
You will get so much more value out of your shoes if you wear them the way they were intended.
The Accused: The low maintenance kind of guy.
The Crime: 'I don't polish my shoes! I'm going for the rugged and carefree look!'
The Sentence: Shoes that look scrappy, leather that breaks down. Leather shoes need a bit of love. Without going into too much detail about how to identify different types of leather, and the different types of products that should be used on them, we can simply state that all types of leather require some sort of care. If leather shoes aren't cleaned regularly, the small bits of dirt can abrade the strong surface of the leather. And without some sort of conditioning, the collagen that keeps leather supple and strong can breakdown, leading to excess stretching, loss of colour and shine, and breakage.