How to Patina Leather Shoes

A good pair of leather shoes are a real treasure, something to be taken care of and worn on such occasions where making an impression is desired. But even more than just looking great and being composed of fine material, leather shoes are perhaps pretty unique among footwear in that, once purchased they will begin a life with the wearer which no other pair will ever emulate.

When we talk of this “life”, we are referring to the development of the look of the shoe, specifically the patina that leather develops over time. Far from being a form of degradation, this type of leather “aging” can have a shoe looking more elegant and distinguished as time goes on. But of course, it has to be done right.

What is Leather Patina?

Most generally speaking, a patina is a thin layer that accumulates on a surface of something (think of the green oxidation that occurs on copper roofs, for example) and changes the overall appearance. When we talk about leather shoes, the patina refers to both the layers of wax and polish built up over time, and all the marks of wear the shoes will accumulate. A leather patina not only adds a distinguished elegance to the shoes, but it also gives them a real personal value, as no two patinas are ever the same.

Leather Shoe Care

The most important thing to ensure your shoes build up an attractive patina (and don’t just become worn) is to make sure that you follow all the usual leather care tips in addition to allowing the shoes to build up the elements of wear that contribute to the distinct patina. ShoeFresh, a company specializing in shoe care products, recommend that you ensure your leather shoes maintain their shape, are stored correctly, and are kept fresh with a decent shoe deodorizer spray. In addition to this, regular cleaning, waxing, and polishing ensure that it is the patina that is built up and not layers of dirt collecting in the scuff grooves, which will simply have your leather shoes looking shabby.

How to Patina Your Shoes

So, keeping in mind that ensuring the shoes are well cared for and cleaned is vital for building up an attractive patina, here are a couple of further tips:

Apply Shoe Cream (Properly)

Applying shoe cream, which seeps into the leather and contributes to the patina effect, is one of the best ways to build up an attractive patina. However, you have to apply it properly. The trick is to remove obstacles which would prevent the shoe cream from getting to the leather itself. Accordingly, it is important to apply a leather cleaner with a microfiber brush first. This will leave you with something of a blank canvas, and you can apply the cream properly. Add as much or as little as you like, bearing in mind that more will create a darker effect.

Pay Attention to the Areas Which Naturally Darken

One of the easiest ways to notice a patina on leather shoes will be around the heel counter and the toe. These are the areas which receive the most wear and therefore darken more in time. Accordingly, you should pay attention to these areas and make sure they are kept clean. A good tip is to clean these areas more often. Getting scuffed and experiencing wear is a good thing, but only if dirt is not involved in the process.

Ultimately, a leather patina isn’t just a sign of high-quality shoes that have seen some wearing, it’s also a sign that they have been taken care of, too.

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