New year, new soles
It’s easy to find negativity in this time of year: you have to go back to work, everyone is pressuring you to give something up, your new gym membership has resulted only in bodily pain, and there is absolutely nothing fun about removing Christmas decorations.
However, in the interests of keeping you distracted from what is truly the cruelest month, now is a great time to perform a ‘shoe M.O.T’ on your current collection: remind yourself of the styles you may have neglected last year and make a new year’s resolution to wear them more often; give them all a nice clean, and check whether any need to be repaired.
How to know when your shoes need a repair
All of our goodyear welted footwear can be refurbished at our factory in Desborough, provided that they haven’t been repaired elsewhere and the uppers are in good enough condition.
No sole will last forever, and their lifespan depends entirely on how often (and in what conditions) they are worn.
With leather soles, you will know when they’re reaching the end of their natural life when they start to feel thin and papery. With the sole facing you, run your thumb from the toe to the heel, applying some pressure – if your thumb sinks into any soft spots on the sole, it’s best to get them into us for a repair.
Sometimes you may not notice this happening, and the next (somewhat more obvious) signifier is that there will be a hole in the sole. For the sake of the shoes, your socks, and your dignity, send them to us as soon as you can for refurbishment.
Rubber soles will last longer between repairs than leather. You can use a similar technique to the one above to check for soft spots in the sole, however you can treat rubber soles like car tyres: once they start to lose their tread, it’s a good idea to bring them in.
Heels need to be repaired once they get close to the first layer of leather that creates the heel stack. It’s never a good idea to wear your heels down too much or you start walking more predominantly on one side of the shoe, which will wear down the soles faster. Generally speaking, once the heels need to be repaired, the sole isn’t far off, but this isn’t always the case. All Cheaney shops will happily take a look at your shoes and advise on any necessary repairs.
When you’ve successfully diagnosed that your shoes are in need of repair, the next step is to get them to our factory via our website or by dropping them into one of our stores.
After an inspection, our factory wizards will get to work by putting the shoes back on the lasts they were made on, restoring some shape. The old sole and heel is then carefully removed, along with the welt, cork filler, shank, and even the insoles if necessary.
At this point, the shoes can be put back on the assembly line and go through the same processes as when they were made. New welts are stitched on before fresh cork filler is applied in the cavity, along with a new shank. The new sole can then be stitched through to the welt, completing the goodyear welt construction.
But wait, there’s more! The uppers are given a good clean before getting a bit of a burnish to restore the original colour.
You also get new laces, replacement heel socks (the padded section under your heels) and a clean conscience through knowing you’ve done the responsible thing by repairing your footwear. In the space of 6-8 weeks, you now have what is essentially a new shoe without the wearing-in process.
When your shoes are being repaired, you don’t have to have the same sole that you had on there originally. Within reason, you have a choice of other sole units to choose from which offer different properties.
If you’d like your previously leather-soled shoes to be more waterproof and durable, our diamond rubber and stud soles are popular choices for dressier shoes. For more rugged styles, you could look at Commando, Vibram and Britgrip soles which all offer different looks as well as varying levels of tread.
Alternatively, footwear on rubber soles can usually be repaired onto a double leather option if you wanted to dress them up a little.
Start 2023 on the right foot
Checking over your footwear as part of a good aftercare routine is the best way to avoid damage going forward. The value of good shoes is in no small part down to the fact that you can have them repaired time and time again, so let’s all make the conscious decision in 2023 to look after what we have, starting from the ground up.