Perhaps the reason Elvis Presley was so weary of people stepping on his blue suede shoes was that, like many of us, he had heard how notoriously difficult they are to retain in good condition. For sure, suede is a material that requires a special form of care, but commonly held notions about their very short lifespan and near-impossibility of preservation are not really true. It is perfectly possible to keep a pair of suede shoes looking good, but you will need the right technique and the right tools.
Generally speaking, the problems that befall suede shoes are the same as those that befall any other pair of footwear – they are susceptible to rain damage, being scuffed, losing their shape, or simply becoming dirty. And there are many general shoe care duties that apply as much to suede shoes as any other kind. For example, you should certainly invest in a shoe odor eliminator, such as that by ShoeFresh, to give your suede shoes a quick spray whenever a smell arises. Moreover, just like leather shoes, using a shoe tree nightly will help suede shoes retain their shape for longer. They will also need to be properly stored, aired out, and so on.
The Uniqueness of Suede
Of the most unique features of suede – at least where footwear is concerned – is the unique texture of the material. Suede has a nap and grain, and will attain a mottled, maculate appearance if these are brushed in inconsistent directions or if either is dirtied in some way. For this reason, suede shoes require a special brush, and care must be taken to ensure that the suede is brushed smoothly against the grain before finishing.
Tools and Tricks
Suede certainly requires a unique brushing method, but there are other suede-specific tools that you will require to either preserve or restore a pair of suede shoes. Here follow the most important – as well what you should do with them:
A suede eraser is perfectly formulated for spot cleaning suede, and it is usually used to tackle the tougher stains and watermarks that are sticking to the material. Spot cleaning with a suede eraser should be carried out in advance of any general clean. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to neglect to clean the areas with no obvious blemishes.
In order to use it properly, it’s important to remember that, in contrast to leather equivalents, only a little amount of pressure is required to tackle the stain. It should also be applied only to the stained areas and not overall.
If spot cleaning doesn’t work (or of the shoes are covered with dirt) then you should use a suede cleaner. To use properly, you will need to brush the shoes down before sponging them slightly with a damp – not wet – cloth. Then you can spray the cleaner all over and start brushing. Again, remember that only moderate pressure is required.
Once you have restored your old suede shoes (or if you have a new pair), the emphasis should be on preventing them getting dirty in the first place. For this, you can use a suede protector, which provides a waterproof coating for the shoes while also preventing color fade.
There are further things you can do to protect your suede shoes, such as simply avoiding wet weather and using a shoe tree. To prevent fading, it is also wise to keep them out of direct sunlight. With these good practices in conjunction with your suede-care kit, you can keep even this most infamous of materials looking its best for years.