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How to change shoe color?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Ok I know this is against everything in the forum but I'd like to take a brown shoe and make it black or as close to black as possible to wear on an interview if needed.

I need a black pair for dress purposes but I found a pair of brown shoes in the style I want for very cheap on ebay and figured it would be best if I can just snap them up and as a project change to black if possible.

I have black polish and all the typical kit items, would it be as easy as using conditioner a bunch of times to dull the finish and then applying and rubbing in 10+ coats of black or would the shoe need to be entirely stripped first (which I would like to avoid)?

Thanks
post #2 of 17
doesn't sound like a good idea.

if you are just doing a one time thing, just grab the cheapest pair of black dress shoes and go with those.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
In regards to how the layers above the actual leather work is it like a car where you have the base (the leather), color, then a clear on top of that? If you remove the top clear are you at the actual color and if you apply a different color does it merge wit the preexisting one?
post #4 of 17
There was a thread where a user took a pair of John Lobb chukkas and changed them from brown to black.

Do a search for it; there are multiple threads on this.....

http://www.styleforum.net/search.php?searchid=641972

I believe you use acetone to strip the leather down as much as you can.
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Yeah I did find a few threads but most were about changing black to brown, didn't see anything regarding brown to black since most go the other way. The theads mentioned either acetone or alcohol which I guess depending on the leather quality will either just take off the polish or go right down to the bare leather.
post #6 of 17
What you would have to do depends a lot on how the leather is actually made. Some "leather" is so coated that you'd have a hard time getting anything but some kind of spray paint to stick, while other leather could be stripped and dyed pretty easily. If you're stuck on doing this, the best thing to do is take them to a good cobbler and ask him to do it.
post #7 of 17
Visionology: try polishing them with black shoe polish. I do this to most of my brown shoes and they turn out a really dark brown, almost black. A bit like shell cordovan but a little darker. I do this not because I wish my shoes were black but because I think it gives them visual interest. The only thing you should be aware of is that if you scuff your shoes, it will show. For a short-term, cheap, and easy fix, however, I think this is the way to go. For what it's worth, I usually melt the polish (with a lighter) before applying it, and then use a stiff brush to apply it.
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by markr View Post
Visionology: try polishing them with black shoe polish. I do this to most of my brown shoes and they turn out a really dark brown, almost black. A bit like shell cordovan but a little darker. I do this not because I wish my shoes were black but because I think it gives them visual interest. The only thing you should be aware of is that if you scuff your shoes, it will show. For a short-term, cheap, and easy fix, however, I think this is the way to go.

For what it's worth, I usually melt the polish (with a lighter) before applying it, and then use a stiff brush to apply it.

If you take off the polish that already exists on the shoe and apply a few coats of black creme to the shoe first, let dry then apply maybe 10 coats of black polish would the color be more scratch resistant? I think a little brown showing through wouldn't be a horrible thing and would add some character but from a glance I would like it to appear mostly black.

Thanks
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by visionology View Post
If you take off the polish that already exists on the shoe and apply a few coats of black creme to the shoe first, let dry then apply maybe 10 coats of black polish would the color be more scratch resistant? I think a little brown showing through wouldn't be a horrible thing and would add some character but from a glance I would like it to appear mostly black.

Thanks

I don't have any experience with shoe cream (plenty others here do though, so hopefully they'll chime in). On the other hand, I'm not sure that multiple coats of black polish will get you anything. My experience is that if you try to apply polish over polish, the new takes off the old. For what it's worth, I recently wore a pair of brown shoes polished black for an interview in another city. After the interview, I spent the whole day walking around the city. At the end of the day, the shoes still looked great -- no scuffs whatsoever. I think if you apply one thick coat of black polish and then spit shine/buff the hell out of them, you'll be good to go.
post #10 of 17
I've been experimenting with shoe cream. It is thinner than a coat of Kiwi polish. Some creams do "layer" without much chewing up the deeper layers (my black and white creams) while others seem to stir them up the earlier layers (my neutral cream). I can get very dark to black using a few layers of the black cream.

However after a 20 minute commute under an umbrella, the cream proved it wasn't waterproof. I re-polished the shoes at work with a cloth, and the original brown showed through on the corners and in some waterlogged creases. A cool rust-like effect, and a nice shine, but maybe not so professional.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
What makes the finish on a shoe you buy in the store hardened to the point of the color not rubbing off? Is it a sealant or glaze on the top? Tampan, have you tried to put a few clear polish or wax coats on top of the cream to see if this seals the color in better and makes it more impervious to weather? I might buy these shoes, take the polish off with some rubbing alcohol and work in a few layers of a black cream then perhaps a few layers on top of that to see what happens. I almost wish there was a polish sealant, I know Allen Edmonds makes a water repellant polish for some shoes, perhaps that may work. I guess trial and error is the key.
post #12 of 17
Wax polish is the sealant. It is water repellant. The finish that is on shoes when they are new is generally either aniline dye (heavy duty chemicals) or some plastic type coating (corrected grain, bookbinder, plasticky KC leather, etc.) (I'm sure someone will correct/expand this part, but it is AFAIK mostly right. There are also other finishes of leather.)

What kind of shoes are you starting with? If you need to change the color, you need to change your method depending on what kind of leather you're working with.

A layer of shoe cream is not a good permanent way of changing color. It is rare that shoe cream will absorb and leave enough color that it can be polished over, and putting enough on there that it dries to a layer generally looks like crap. Letting a lot of shoe cream soak in may impart some color, but it's not going to turn brown completely to black. The same applies to polish.

If you're starting with a good leather in the first place, you can strip it of polish and get shoe dye, and this will be the most permanent and best looking solution. If it's less good leather, you'll need another method.

If you're using these for interviews, I'd suggest a good method, because you don't want a giant question mark appearing over your interviewer's head when he notices your shoes.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
They are just some Allen Edmonds calf leather shoes. I normally dislike AE but they are cheap and plain enough for interviews. The leather appears almost new so I am assuming they haven't been polished yet. Perhaps this is all more work than it is worth and perhaps I am just sick of working and needed a side project. I think I really wouldn't care if the color wasn't a solid black, maybe if it had some depth to it, it would be good however I don't know how well this would fly for an interview. Maybe I should just rename these a project shoe instead of an interview shoe. I need to find a car to restore or something....
post #14 of 17
Ah, I understand. Well, those are probably a good starting point, if they're not AE's coated leather. If you want to do it right and make them black, you can buy some Lincoln Dye Preparer and some dye, and go at it. If you just want to add some interest/depth, read my posts on antiquing the Loake chelsea boots, and go through that process. It's pretty reliable and easy to do, and turns out a great product IMO.

http://www.styleforum.net/showthread...ots#post193313

http://www.styleforum.net/showpost.p...3&postcount=12

Edit: if you want to do something crazier, try Marc Guyot's method of making black cherry shoes, which I've always wanted to do - in short, strip them, dye them dark red, dye them black, strip a bit of the black from the toe and quarters or wherever you want highlights, touch up those spots with more red, then polish. There is a pictorial on it somewhere on his site, do a search here, should be a link.
post #15 of 17
Why don't you just take them to a good cobbler and have the cobbler dye them black?
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