No man should ever need to endure a derelict pair of shoes. Not only do the shoes define the type of man you are, they can also determine whether or not you’ll get lucky with that cute bird at the bar.
Hence brings us to the lost art of shoe polishing. The practice has its modern origins with the military as part of a soldier’s dress standards.
In The Beginning
The production of shoe polish was at its peak during World War One where there was a need for soldiers taking part to polish their shoes. Following the wars, shoe polish entered the mainstream and was adopted by the wider public. These days a polished shoe is considered a fashion statement with spit shine and bull shine with its high gloss finish being the most desired look amongst the most discerning gents. Shoe polishes come in mostly wax, paste or cream forms and are designed to protect shoes, promote shine, and improve colour.
Many of the brands from the war era still exist today, producing products with many of the original ingredients that’s also steeped in tradition. It’s these brands that stick to the ways of old that dominate the market and are considered the best. Today they are the brands you need to know to keep you on your shiniest feet.
One brand that stands out above the rest is Kiwi. Kiwi has dominated the market since it launched in 1906 in Melbourne. The arrival of Kiwi shoe polish marked the beginning of modern shoe polish as we know it today, as it not only made leather shoes shine but also restored colour and preserved the shoe leather. Not only is it widely available in stores, it is also affordable and now sold in over 180 countries.
Famous for coining the old phrase, “You don’t know shit from Shinola”, the company has also been producing a wax shoe polish since 1907. Made popular during the World Wars for army personnel the polish has been handmade by experienced craftspeople ever since. Their signature shoe polish delivers excellent shine, waterproofing and protection. Interestingly the Shinola brand has seen a rise in popularity among the the hipster scene since it began producing leather goods such a watch straps and leather bound journals.
Alongside Kiwi, Cherry Blossom is another well known shoe polish brand. The product was produced in the early 1900s by brothers Dan and Charles Mason from a desire to create a polish that would not rub off on and stain clothing as many other products did at the time. Cherry Blossom is the Winner of the Best Shoe Care and Accessories Brand of the Year Award and has enjoyed double digit growth year on year for the last four years.
Unlike some shoe polish brands, Meltonian offers shoe polish in an array of colours with everything from navy to olive. Meltonian utilises essential oils and waxes in its polish to prevent the shoe leather drying and cracking over time. Not only will your shoes be provided with a great shine but remain protected from the elements while prolonging the life of the shoe.
When I speak of the best brands sticking to tradition, nowhere is that more true than with Angelus. Angelus shoe polish was created by Paul T Angelos in 1907 in his kitchen and the brand is still going strong today with his grandson now at the helm. The polish contains carnauba and bee’s wax to apply with ease and provide shine. Angelus brand of shoe polish brings life to old shoes while restoring the colour and preserving the leather.
How To Polish Your Shoes Like A Magnificent Bastard
Tag a clean rag or towel and dab it in the shoe polish so you have an adequate amount to work with. Next, place a mat or newspaper down on the floor so the polish doesn’t stain the floor. Simply take the polish soaked section of the rag and rub it into the leather of the dress shoe, ensuring the shoe is clean and dry first.
Once complete, continue to work the polish into the shoe over its entirety, working across all areas of the shoes evenly. When you’re pleased with the shine, allow to dry for several minutes before wearing.
Voila. Shine bright like a diamond, you magnificent bastard.