“Your blog is an entry drug for vintage shoes”. That’s been my favorite comment that I have received since starting this blog. Well, here is another hit. Not that I am advocating drug use. Just shoes. Although pot use is legal here in Seattle. As it is in many places. Which still surprises me at times since I grew up in the 80s. But times change.
Pot was definitely illegal when these shoes were produced. Nixon was likely the president. Margarine was good for you. And no one wanted to go to Vietnam.
I bought these shoes on eBay. The photos were fairly good and I didn’t see any Shell cracking but the shoes looked like they need some TLC.
Of the vintage shoes I own (and have owned), (and I have owned a lot), (really much too many), the Florsheim Imperial 93606 is in my top three. It’s just a great looking shoe. It’s a the perfect style for showing the beauty of vintage Shell Cordovan leather. I get a lot of compliments when I wear them.
I have previously posted on fixing up a similar pair. For this effort, I started with a good brushing and wipe with a damp cloth. I sprayed and wiped the inside of the shoes with isopropyl alcohol. There was quite a bit of old polish so I stripped the leather with that liquid hazmat site called Saphir Reno’Mat. Which is a wonder product for cleaning Shell. A little goes a long way and be gentle when applying it. I am probably shortening my life by using Reno’Mat. But it feels worth it.
Someone on Styleforum recently posted that they use Bickmore Bick 4 on Shell Cordovan. I had used Bick 4 on calf leather in the past so I gave it a go with this pair. I used it on the right shoe. I used Lexol NF for conditioning the left shoe. The Lexol NF treated shoe was a bit tacky while the Bick 4 shoe felt cool and smooth to the touch. The Lexol shoe was a bit darker which is hard to see in the photos or in person. My perception is that the Lexol penatrated the Shell deeper and that darkened the leather.
When I conditioned the shoes, I used the back of a metal spoon to smooth the leather. The conditioner acted as lubricant. This eases the Shell rolls a bit. While you can ease the Shell rolls, in my experience, you can’t eliminate the areas between the rolls where the Shell has darkened.
Both Lexol NF and Bick 4 left the shoes a bit dull. I gave the shoes a good brushing and polishing with a soft, cotton cloth. I followed that with a tiny bit of Allen Edmonds Cordovan Cream to the front of the shoe. You don’t need much of this product. And then more brushing and buffing.
This pair is for me. I wore them once this week and they were true to size and comfortable. I considered wearing them to the Bumbershoot music festival in Seattle this past weekend. But what if someone stepped on them? Or dropped their joint on them? Instead I wore my long wings and watched Billy Idol fist pumping his way through his hits. Billy was great. Some things don’t change.