Luke Vaccaro of venerated Vaccaro’s Shoe Repair in Scarsdale has been repairing failing footwear for 38 years. However, he does concede that “you get what you pay for. You have to be prepared to spend a little money on shoes to have them last a long time—at least two-hundred dollars for women’s styles, three-hundred dollars for men’s.”
And while the lifespan of a particular shoe depends on a host of factors such as usage, materials, preventive care, etc., Vaccaro says that properly maintained, well-made leather shoes should last on average 20 years. “Shoes are like cars,” he says. “Maintain them appropriately and they can last a long time.” He adds, “If you take proper care of them, they can last a lifetime.”
But no matter the price tag, there are certain steps you can take to extend the lifespan of your shoes. Here, the cobbler shares his top tips.
1) Never wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. “Giving shoes a day off to breathe,” says Vaccaro, “helps them retain their shape and not become stretched out; they won’t wear out as fast.”
2) Designate an old pair of shoes as bad-weather footwear to protect newer ones from the elements. Like perspiration, moisture in any form—dew, rain, ice, or snow (plus the salt used to melt the latter)—can destroy such materials as leather and suede and cause mold and mildew to develop. And what about using water-resistant sprays and creams shoe stores frequently reccomend? “There is no product that will make shoes totally water-resistant,” says Vaccaro. “But there are some that will help protect them against minor dampness like light rain.” He recommends using Meltonian Water & Stain Protector, particularly on suede, fabric, and light-colored shoes.
3) Place wooden shoe “trees” in your shoes. Or stuff them with clean old white T-shirts or white tissues—before storing. This helps them keep their shape. “Never use old newspapers,” advises Vaccaro. “The ink from the newsprint can come off and stain your shoes.”
4) Store shoes in a dry, cool place and avoid exposure to direct sunlight, heat, and humidity. “Heat can cause stretching and crinkling of materials like leather,” says the cobbler. So never dry out wet shoes by placing them beneath a radiator, he says. Just let them air-dry in a cool spot.
5) If you drive a lot, use one pair of shoes just for that purpose. Not only does driving wear down the backs of your shoes and scuff them up, shoes you wear in a car are exposed to everything you’ve ever tracked into it that builds up over time in its carpeting. // LY