The Other Kind of Shoe Care

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If you’ve read menswear blogs for any length of time, you’re probably well acquainted with the basics of proper shoe care. Give your shoes a day of rest in between each wear and insert cedar shoe trees when they’re not in use. When the leather starts to look a bit dry, apply leather conditioner and use some polish to help raise a shine. If you have the time and inclination, you can also bull the toe caps and heel cups in order to give your shoes a bit of flashy detailing.

There’s another shoe care technique – wear your shoes as often as possible, put them through hell, apply leather conditioner sparingly, and do little else. This is particularly good for workboots, where you want the age to show. The best example of this might be a pair of service boots Andrew Chen (3sixteen’s co-founder) bought from Viberg two years ago. You can see them here new and here after eighteen months of wear. Andrew tells me he did little to take care of his shoes except wipe them down with a damp cloth every once in a while. Truthfully, they don’t seem like they were even wiped down that often, and that’s probably why they look so great.

I liked how Andrew’s shoes looked so much that I recently picked up these service boots his company made with Viberg as part of their Decade Collection (a special line of products made in celebration of 3sixteen’s tenth year anniversary). These were modeled after Andrew’s original service boots, only this time, they come in black and olive. Mine are the second, though olive is a strange name for the color. They’re more like the dirty brown shown on 3sixteen’s site. The leather is Horween’s Chromepak, which is a pull-up leather that’s considerably more oily and stuffed than the company’s famous Chromexcel. That means the material is exceptionally soft and pliable, and that scuffs come out easier than your regular pull-ups.

The olive Chromepak is unfortunately all sold out, and probably won’t be made again since Horween has run out of the material. I actually bought the last pair (sorry) and it was the sample, which is why the tongue is made from a matching olive Chromepak leather, rather than the contrasting black you see on the final design. However, a few sizes of the black version are left (be sure to size down a full size), and Andrew tells me that they’ll be continuing this boot into the future with other materials. The price isn’t cheap, but the quality is outstanding. Once well-aged, these are the kind of shoes that would look perfect with a pair of faded, raw jeans; an old, white cotton t-shirt; and a beat-up leather jacket. I don’t think I’ve ever looked so forward to destroying an expensive purchase

(Pictured above: My 3sixteen SL-100x jeans, 3sixteen x Viberg service boots, Flathead mid-length wallet, and Self Edge x J. Mace double feather necklace. Pictured below: Andrew’s 3sixteen boots and jeans, and the new 3sixteen x Viberg boots)


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  1. wylamsoo reblogged this from dieworkwear
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  3. boknowsclothes reblogged this from dieworkwear and added:
    A great post from Die, Workwear! The best way to care for boots is, sometimes, hardly any care at all. Something to keep...
  4. birchboxman reblogged this from dieworkwear and added:
    A monthly shine is one approach to shoe care. Derek of Die Workwear presents another.
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