Have been lurking this thread for a while and have been learning a lot. Walking through the thrift a couple weeks back I found a candidate to get some hands on training. A solid pair of Church's Stafford in dark brown size 10D. A google search produced absolutely no information on these shoes and no pics either, I contacted Church's CS and found that these were made for the US market in the early 80s and then discontinued.
There was blatant cracking at the creases which I thought was too much wax and thought this would be a solid project shoe.
Up close you can see a bit of discoloration in the cracked wax. Didn't think much of it and for $8 I was willing to get aggressive with the fix
Used Lexol cleaner and it did virtually nothing so I had read nail polish (non-acetate) would get the job done and as long as I used lexol conditioner after it would be fine. Started taking off the polish and look what I found!
Is this normal? Layering on enough dark wax to cover up the true color of the shoe???
I tried to go easy on the nail polish but for some reason the polish seemed to soak into the leather and darken it in spots. Didn't think it would be a huge deal because the Lexol would darken the light leather a bit (in my experience). It did not work, the leather would not absorb the lexol and I soon realized (and with confirmation through Church's CS) that this was made of bookbinder and not calf. Was a bit concerned I wouldn't be able to save these as they were looking dry and boring so I went and tried a bunch of things.
I realize that what I did next is not the recommended SF SOP but it has improved the shoes quite a bit. So because the shoes would not absorb Lexol, I assumed that cream would not work either. A layer of brown kiwi wax polish helped bring back the shine. For no good reason I placed a bit of brown shoe cream on it afterwards and it absorbed/dried well, did a full coat and this is how they came out.
Project isn't done yet. I have tried Lexol again and in small quantities it is absorbing so will ad a couple of coats and then another coat of brown cream and maybe another layer of wax. The discoloration is still there but it is growing on me, a pseudo-antiquing if you will. The pics highlight the contrast between the different shades of leather but is a lot more subtle and blended IRL. I will update in a couple weeks after some work gets done.
Essentially, i have done the conditioner>cream>polish in reverse order and it seems to be working?! Maybe the lesson is doing any kind of upkeep to your quality footwear can help.
FYI, I typically follow the SF approved "normal" conditioner, cream, wax routine on my other footwear.
I know Church's doesn't get much love on SF but I for one am impressed that a 30 year old pair of shoes (with bookbinder leather no less) is still in solid condition and look forward to putting it into my rotation. These are definitely a bit aggressive and busy in terms of styling but a lot more fun then my plain captoes.
I absolutely adore them!!!! they're not exactly wearable with everything but they're the perfect shoes to combine with jeans and a shirt on weekend and look supercool having something no one has!