• We would like to welcome Craftsman Clothing back as an official Affiliate Vendor. Craftsman Clothing is a brand for the refined men who want to look good with minimal effort, and care about products that are well-made. In additon to being a go-to brand for all things essential, Craftsman Clothing also offers bespoke outerwear that’s uniquely crafted for you. Please visit their thread and give them a warm welcome.


    Bored of counting likes on social networks? At Styleforum, you’ll find rousing discussions that go beyond strings of emojis.

    Click Here to join Styleforum's thousands of style enthusiasts today!

2019 shoe revival challenge - submit entries HERE


Senior Member
Sep 8, 2015
Reaction score
Some amazing work so far. I had a pair that I had done some work on beforehand but these came into my possession in the last few days. I had previously only seen 1 pair of so. Being a proud Canadian I had to support and use a pair of Dack's. For those of you that dont know give it a search in google, at one point was one of the oldest companies in Canada. I found these at a local thrift and always loved the look of the u-wing along with exotic 'zebu' grain hides.

When I got them they were in fairly reasonable shape. Followed my tried and true process.

1) Wipe down with a soft haired brush and then a round of saddle soap, including in the soles. I also tend to use a lighter to fix any loose threads
2) After the saddle soap I will go for a cleaning using mineral spirits. I like using them (although it should be noted the smell is awful and you need ventilation) because they are not as harsh as an acetone. For these they had some big buildup on the front.
3) I used an electronic toothbrush and q-tips to clean the welts, this was the most exhausting process.
4) After letting them sit overnight I ran through a few rounds of leather conditioner. I like to condition the soles as well as I find this helps, and I specifically have a less expensive crappier conditioner for this one reason.
5) After this I used saphir cream polish on the toes and rear heels to cover up a few lights scuffs. I then used a hard way on the entire shoe and did some heavier detailing on the toes. I am not a huge advocate for mirror shine but want the front to pop a little.
6) New laces and used snow seal on the soles. I find that sometimes it keeps water out.

Hopefully my entry will result in a bit more knowledge about this fantastic company as well as the use of an odd hide in its construction, I would think these date from the 1950s



Distinguished Member
Oct 31, 2017
Reaction score
I'm not a cobbler by any means but this pair needed revival. I picked it up as the 'before' photos; uneven wear and heavy abrasion on the sides near the toe and heel. This has definitely seen better days.

- Alcohol swab the insides
- Light sanding of the shoe so it's more uniform and level canvas for the coloring
- Lexol conditioning and Autoglym leather balm to restore moisture of the leather
- Applied a custom mix color of AE Walnut/Black/Cordovan polish for the color
- Red laces and some mink oil to add that 'wet' look. Also helps darken the light spots for uniformity


Last edited:


Distinguished Member
Jan 11, 2012
Reaction score
I am heading to bed soon. Can't wait to wake up to the rest of the entries. Within one year, it looks like people have really increased their knowledge and ability to revive shoes. Thanks for participating!


Senior Member
Feb 23, 2019
Reaction score
I wasn't originally planning to compete, but then I had quite the haul at the thrift store this weekend. (50% off EVERYTHING.)

View attachment 1235811

One of my favorite things is taking something utterly destroyed and making it absolutely gorgeous. For example, I interviewed for my current job wearing a pair that I'd brought back from the grave.

So when I found these - for $3! - I knew I had to do something with them.

View attachment 1235818

This was an utterly ruined pair of Florsheims. I don't even know why they were put up for sale, and not just binned.

There are no identifying markings left anywhere on the uppers or insoles. I only know they're Florsheim based on the heel logo, though I've never seen another pair of Florsheims with that logo on the heel. I figure that means either they're old, or they were unpopular.

View attachment 1235813

And speaking of the sole, it's cemented and it was starting to come off in places.

View attachment 1235814

In spite of their appearance, they were smooth leather - not suede or nubuck. The finish was simply destroyed. And they're unlined, so they had even less internal structure than you might expect.

View attachment 1235816

The surface was a complete mess. Stains were everywhere.

View attachment 1235815

These shoes had very clearly NEVER been cared for.

View attachment 1235817

And did I mention they were in bad shape?

View attachment 1235812

This is the most miserable pair of shoes I've ever worked on, which also means it was one of the most interesting challenges.

Here's everything I did, in order. Note that whenever I applied a coat of something, it was with my bare finger unless otherwise specified; all brushing/shining/buffing was with a Red Wing brand horsehair shoe brush (no rags or daubers or anything).
  • Cleaned and reshaped shoes
    1. Brushed the shoes and soles thoroughly
    2. Immersed the shoes in a tub of water for around 30 minutes
    3. Removed shoes from water, gently dried with a terrycloth towel
    4. Inserted form-fitting spring-form cedar shoe trees
    5. Placed shoes at a 30-degree incline over a wire mesh next to a cold-air vent for 24 hours (the incline is necessary to prevent the leather soles from getting damaged)
    6. After about two hours, removed cedar shoe trees and inserted form-fitting rigid hardwood trees (and placed cedar trees in front of the vent next to the shoes)
    7. Waited a day; shoes and soles and cedar trees had completely dried (inside and out)
    8. Swapped the cedar spring-form shoe trees back in
    9. Gently sanded the worst/roughest spots - mainly the left toe, the left vamp, and a couple smaller spots around the side/back.
    10. Wiped the shoes gently with acetone, partly to remove some stands and partly in case there happened to be any old polish to strip off. (There wasn't.)
    11. Using rotary face brush, applied a generous amount of Bick 1 leather cleaner to uppers
    12. Waited for shoes to air-dry
    13. Brushed thoroughly
  • Dyed shoes
    1. Applied three generous coats of Angelus brand Jade (green) leather dye with dauber
    2. Waited several minutes for shoes to dry and dye to begin to set
    3. Applied one very thin coat of neutral VSC
    4. Brushed gently
    5. Applied one very thin coat of neutral Tarrago cream polish
    6. Brushed a little less gently
    7. Saturated shoes with Fiebling's neatsfoot oil - I'm talking really, really saturated them. I applied many coats using a rag; I'd go over one shoe, then the other, then continued back and forth until no more was getting absorbed and the oil started to pool on the surface
    8. Left shoes to rest for a full day, to allow the last of the oil to absorb in and all the color to even out
I've developed this dying technique over time to help balance the color and to make it really penetrate the leather. The neatsfoot blends with the dye and drags it deeper in, while simultaneously spreading the dye around as the oil spreads - it's sort of like how CXL leather works, but without the hot stuffing and without quite as much permanence.

Anyway, continuing:
  • Polished shoes
    1. Applied thin coat of neutral VSC
    2. Buffed
    3. Applied thin coat of neutral Tarrago cream
    4. Buffed
    5. Applied thin coat of neutral Collonil 1909
    6. Buffed
    7. Applied another thin coat of neutral Collonil 1909
    8. Waited for product to dry
    9. Buffed
  • Shined shoes
    • At this point, I started to work more based on feel/sight
    • I repeatedly applied many, many very thin coats of neutral VSS, Tarrago cream, Collonil 1909, and Allen Edmonds carnauba wax
    • I brushed heavily between each coat, so spread it around evenly and really work it into the leather.
    • I chose each product based on how the shoes appeared after the previous coat, how dry/tacky the shoes felt, and what I wanted to gain from the next coat: suppleness, pure shine, or smoothness.
    • I probably did this for a couple hours, not including time waiting for the Collonil to dry. I lost count of the number of coats I applied.
    • I did this because the leather had been in such rough shape, I wanted to ensure I gave the shoes a lots of waxes to absorb, as well as a durable but flexible coating.
    • Finished with two final coats of Collonil, then lots of buffing.
  • Waited another day for shoes to dry
At this point, I had thought about sanding down the entire sole edge to the natural leather, but I realized the sole edges would've absorbed too much green dye. So I came up with a plan B.
  • Dressed sole edges
    1. Wrapped low-tack painter's tape around both shoes
    2. Gently sanded edges all around
    3. Coarsely sanded heel risers, partly by hand and partly with dremel, to remove dark brown dressing around riser
    4. Removed painter's tape from shoes; wrapped masking tape around all except the very top of heel risers
    5. Applied three coats of black edge dressing around soles' edges
    6. Waited for edge dressing to dry
    7. Removed masking tape from heels
    8. Applied a generous coat of Bick 4 to now-bare heel risers
    9. Buffed
    10. Applied a coat of neutral Tarrago cream to heel risers
    11. Buffed
    12. Applied another coat of Bick 4 to heel risers
    13. Buffed
  • Finished up
    • Pushed a little Barge into the loose parts of the sole, to reattach (fortunately, there weren't any deep spots)
    • Applied two more coats of Collonil; buffed briskly after each coat
    • Laced shoes
    • Decided I didn't like the lacing; laced them again, differently
And the result?

View attachment 1235825

I'd wear these on a job interview, if only they were my size.

View attachment 1235820

Now, all the texture adds interest. The darker and lighter areas, the peaks and valleys - they create a unique patina, so the shoes look different from every angle.

View attachment 1235824
View attachment 1235822

The heels transition from green leather to black edges, then natural leather stacks, then finally to the tan rubber pad.

View attachment 1235821

These looked stunning in sunlight yesterday, but it was overcast today, so unfortunately I couldn't get photos of the light reflecting off. (If anyone wants to see, I'll try to grab more photos this weekend.)

View attachment 1235823View attachment 1235824

So, that's my entry.

These shoes were once trash. Now they're not.


Senior Member
Apr 11, 2005
Reaction score
Amazing job by everyone.

Last year, I found a bargain price pair of black long wings and ordered them. They turned out to be practically unworn and in amazing shape. I had nothing to submit. So, this year, I went for the worst pair I could find on ebay. These are a pair of Stacy Adams spectators. Looks like the lighter color is a light grey but they just look very dirty. Cost was $6.78


The shoes arrived in horrible condition. Before photos:






I pulled out the heavy duty Lysol wipes, and put on a pair of gloves to wipe out the inside of the shoes. Layers of grime and dirt came off. I couldn’t believe how bad these were on the inside. Not that I want to post a photo of the gross wipes but…

After cleaning the inside, I used a damp cloth wipe of uppers x2. After that, it was clear that was some heavy dirt on the tongue of the shoe (see one of the photos above for the filth on the tongue) and some sticky residue and other mystery goo on the side that were not coming off.

Renomat. Each shoe was then wiped down with renomat. A little bit on an old white t-shirt and then scrub. Repeat until both shoes were completely done. This did the trick of pulling off most of the dirt on the tongue and also most of the residues.

Alcohol. I hate the smell of acetone so ended up using alcohol instead. Using cotton balls, I wiped the shoes down with alcohol and more dirt, grime and lots of coloring came off.

Drying time. After this, I let the shoes dry overnight. I was then left with a much cleaner pair of dull looking shoes.

Leather Dye. I decided to dye the light grey a light brown. From past experience playing with dye, I knew going with a darker color would be easier for me but I really wanted to see what I could do with a light brown. Not knowing where the dauber was, I decided to cut up some pieces of an old memory foam mattress topper that was going to go out in the trash and used that to apply the dye. I ended up using 4 coats of dye and rubbing like crazy in between.

Conditioner. Applied some conditioner. After conditioning and then brushing, the shoes looked much better. The conditioner I use has a tiny bit of wax in it so it starts to look much better even after the two rounds of conditioner.

Shoe cream. Applied some J&M dark brown shoe cream to the darker parts of the shoes and Saphir Crème Surfine in light brown to the lighter parts of the shoes. (Then more brushing and brushing and brushing). Finished it up with some Collonil 1909 clear.

Cleaned up dirty welts and edges as best I could and threw on some laces.


Quick note: Most of the shoe marks were dirt related. There was one spot however, where the leather was a bit gouged. Not too noticeable after applying the dye.

Tongues cleaned up pretty well after being filthy.

One step I skipped was an attempt at wrinkle reduction. I have done water soaks before but was concerned the shoes would not make it through. Anyways, the wrinkles are not too bad.

The toe areas of both shoes had lots of scratching after i removed a lot of the polishes, etc. I tried to blend in the darker toe areas with a bit of the lighter dye.

I forgot to take a before shot of the back. But, here they are after conditioning and shoe cream (no dye on them)


Senior Member
May 12, 2017
Reaction score
Sorry I’m late to the party. You guys blew me away.

This is my submission for my Dack’s anniversary wingtips.

They were purchased for $18.07 CAD.

The process for these were:

1) Wipe shoes inside and out with Disinfectant cloth.
2) Apply UV Shoe Sanitizer.
3) Insert shoe trees.
4) Apply heat gun all around the shoe to reduce creases.
5) Strip finish with Saphir Renomat.
6) Apply Saphir Renovateur.
7) Buff off excess conditioner.
8) Apply Saphir Medium Brown Cream Polish.
9) Apply Saphir Black Cream Polish to Toes and back of heels.
10) Buff off black cream polish.
11) Apply Black Wax Polish to toes and back of heels.
12) Repeat for multiple layers of wax and water.
13) Use drops of water and rub in circular motions until mirror shine is achieved.
14) Lace shoes!

Whoops I forgot to add that I wet sanded the heels using 3000 grit sandpaper and Lexol conditioner after applying the heat gun.

Hope to see more shoes on here!



New Member
Jun 3, 2018
Reaction score
here's my entry even though I've posted in the other thread.
This pair of To Boot New York I got for $17+shipping via E(vil)Bay.
They came to me in such condition:
- curled
- caked with cheap polish
- rounded toe tip
- sole stitching looks worn down.
- loose thread here and there.
- discoloration everywhere.
- heel top lifts are gone and loose.
What I did:
- straightened the shoes and removed most of the creases.
(- originally, I planned to hand stitch the outsoles but the finger and bent tests suggested not so nope)
- stripped off old polish and even out the colors.
- burnt loose threads.
- cleaned up the fray edges
- redyed the whole shoes with proper dark brown color.
- replaced heel top lifts.
- added solesavers/topys and flushed lulu toe taps.
- a few rounds of Bick 4 and 2 round of Saphir dark brown color cream.
- sanded the edge and refinished by hand in "antiqued" heel and edge finish.



Senior Member
Jul 2, 2015
Reaction score
Congratulations to all of the entrants so far. Some truly astonishing work. I am glad that I am not a judge!


Distinguished Member
Jan 9, 2015
Reaction score
It has been great to see everyone’s work. There were some amazing improvements from every entry.

I expected that we might see a few more entries. Perhaps changing this from a popularity contest to a judged event discouraged a few entries (not that I’m opposed to the change).


Distinguished Member
Jan 11, 2012
Reaction score
It has been great to see everyone’s work. There were some amazing improvements from every entry.

I expected that we might see a few more entries. Perhaps changing this from a popularity contest to a judged event discouraged a few entries (not that I’m opposed to the change).
I will follow up to see why we have less entries this year. I assumed a standardized evaluation would be preferred. I am clearly wrong.


Distinguished Member
Oct 31, 2017
Reaction score
I think it's because it just popped up last minute. The entry page should've been given at least 2-3 weeks time especially since it deviated from the original revival page.


Aug 15, 2019
Reaction score
I don't think it's the judging format, I just think it's the time constraints. I'm not trying to be difficult or confrontational, just pointing out the timelines.

- You posted re: the start of the contest on August 6th, which was also the start of the purchase window.
- People who commented on the 2018 Challenge thread may have seen a notification re: this year's Challenge, but not everyone is going to see it as soon as it's posted, so some people lose a few days. Also, the original timeline was Sept/Oct so people may not have been paying close attention.
- Even if you started looking on the 6th, most people seem to be getting their shoes on Ebay. If you're super lucky, maybe you find something suitable, in your size, and under the max price as a Buy-It-Now, but if it's an auction you can lose a week+ waiting for it to end. And, of course, there's no guarantee you won't get outbid, at which point you're starting over.
- Once you buy some shoes, you're at the mercy of the seller's shipping. If they ship once a week, and they're on the opposite side of the country, it could be another ten days before you get the shoes. Hell, I bought a pair Aug 14th for which I'm now trying to get a refund because the a-hole seller never shipped them at all. So, you could easily be down to two weeks left before you even have a pair of shoes in your possession.
- If you didn't previously participate, and don't have a stock of shoe restoration supplies, you need to evaluate the shoes once you get them and buy the requisite restoration supplies. Some things are specialty items not available with Prime (and not everyone has Prime), so you're purchasing from a mom-n-pop online store that's not getting it to you in a day or two...e.g. it took nearly a week for my dyes to arrive after I purchased them.
- Some processes (e.g. glycerine treatment, or a water soak) can take days to perform and can have a "cooldown" period of several days while they dry, etc.
- As I mentioned in my case, my original plan proved unworkable, so I had to switch directions. That required another round of purchases/shipping/delays, so I simply ran out of time.
- And of course I don't think anyone here is a cobbler, so we're all doing this in our spare time. Like shoenoob, I have three kids who just went back to school so there's that and various other things that are challenging to juggle.

I don't really mind missing out on the contest, but I do think the timeline discourages really crazy modifications/restorations which are the kind of thing that add the most value to the community in terms of letting people know what's possible - e.g. "Jeez, these are cool old longwings but ____ is a problem. I wonder if that's fixable?" For example, I am probably going to rip off the rubber heel on my project shoes and construct a leather heel from some NOS leather heel stacks I bought on Ebay after switching direction. I may fail spectacularly, but if so it will at least be a cautionary tale for other people. If I succeed, then next time mreams99 might take the plunge and rip his heel off entirely to do the brown heel/edge treatment he really wanted.

I will add I'd love to know more about how florent redid the soles on his Church's as he did an awesome job.

Anyway, just my 2 cents. Lots of great work here, and thanks for running the Challenge!


Distinguished Member
Jan 9, 2015
Reaction score
There are many factors that may have led to fewer entries.
It’s even possible that someone completed a project, looked at the competition, and decided not to enter.
It’s all speculation at this point.


Senior Member
Jan 16, 2018
Reaction score
There are many factors that may have led to fewer entries.
It’s even possible that someone completed a project, looked at the competition, and decided not to enter.
It’s all speculation at this point.
That won't stop folks from having strong opinions on the Internet!

Featured Sponsor


  • I mainly buy my clothes online.

  • I shop online only if there is a sale.

  • I shop online when shipping and returns are free.

  • I shop in store only for very expensive items I want to try on.

  • I mainly shop in store.

Results are only viewable after voting.

Related Threads

Forum statistics

Latest member

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by