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Are Shoe Trees Important

MrTKN

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First post! I have read a lot of interesting posts on this forum and as a result I feel like a fundi of sorts compared to the layman on the street. I know there are a lot of posts on shoe trees but I was wondering...Are they really important? I recently purchased a pair of Magnanni and To Boot New York shoes for my corporate wardrobe and in attempting to ensure I keep my shoes in top notch I stumbled upon this forum. (Needless to say, I feel rather amateurish having bought those two brands to start with as they don't seem to be highly regarded).

Ok, enough on the background. First point, most people on SF agree that shoe trees mostly act as catalysts for moisture absorption and only absorb a little moisture themselves. Secondly, most members agree that shoe trees will lessen the appearance of wrinkles but they will not prevent or eliminate them. However, I have looked at a few pics that show older C&J, Church, AE, AS shoes etc with shoe trees and I do not imagine they could look any worse if they never had shoe trees. Here is my reasoning; If you start of with a good pair of shoes, say a pair of C&J (or insert your favourite here) having the highest quality leather and the best construction (Goodyear welt??) might it not be possible that those shoes would look good after many years regardless of whether or not they had shoe trees? Otherwise why pay a premium for those shoes if the difference in durability with cheaper shoes comes down to using a pair of shoe trees? Might shoe trees be the answer to a problem that never existed? What I contend is the case here is that people that can pay $400 on a pair of shoes will also be readily willing to pay an extra 30 bucks for a pair of shoe trees to 'protect' their investment without paying due consideration to the actual benefits that you derive from the additional purchase.

I also suppose that shoe trees have had advocates since time immemorial but no one ever stopped to question their importance. Is there anyone on SF that has a pair of shoes eg AE, Alden, Church etc that never used shoe trees and regrets that decision? Or anyone with a bad looking pair of reputable shoes who also believes those shoes look so bad due to not having shoe trees for all or part of their lives. Or anyone that has bought a 'shoe tree free' pair from ebay who can testify that shoe trees are really important. Would love to see pics. Otherwise I believe if you have a pair of MTO John Lobbs, your shoes will look good after 10 years even without shoe trees because 1) You don't wear them often 2) They have the best leather for uppers and sole 3) You give them a good polish and conditioning every now and then 4) When you wear them you do not walk for miles and miles in them. 5) You change your gait ever so slightly to ensure you don't wear them out too quickly (and a few other points I can't think of right now) but lo and behold..you attribute their 'good looking' state to shoe trees? Really? If anyone disagrees please feel free to enlighten me with pictorial evidence and some testimonies. Otherwise I will try to post pics of my not so high quality dress boots that have never seen a shoe tree in their life... and still look good, then again they are only a year old..

I know this is rather long; last point. Since shoes and indeed feet all have different sizes, I consider that shoe trees that are not identical to the last used to create the shoe or the owner's foot would add little or no substantial benefit to the shoe. I think people do themselves a great disservice by buying shoe trees that are in no way identical to their own feet. I think other SF members agree that if shoe trees are too big they will stretch the shoe. If they are too small they wouldn't reduce wrinkling. It's hard enough getting pair of shoes that fits and probably harder to get a pair of shoe trees that conform to the fit of your shoes unless your shoe trees come from the manufacturer of the shoe.
 
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Romain

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Yes.

Regarding the "too big or too small" issue, the fact is that shoe trees often (always) feature a spring, so they can adjust to the size of the shoe.
 

Mark Seitelman

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Shoes without shoe trees tend to have their soles curl slightly. The tree keeps the sole flat for the long periods of non-use.

Shoe trees made from the shoe's last not only retard curling, but they keep the shoe's overall shape.
 

MrTKN

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Thanks guys. Your replies are most appreciated. I must say, it is rather exciting to get a reply to your thread. Just a few more questions; How significant is the curling and does it justify having a shoe tree? More specifically have you found this to be true yourself? Your arguments are compelling but, are they founded? In this case the argument in support of shoe trees seems to have a logical basis but has anyone ever tested it out? I'm just trying to stop myself from buying something because of mob psychology.
 

Gdot

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Yes - they work. Yes personal experience.

If you want to see for yourself. Set a pair of leather soled shoes in 1/2" of water for 1/2 hour. Put a tree in one and not the other. Let dry. Learn your lesson and repeat the process with the one you didn't put a tree in but this time use the damned tree.
 

taxgenius

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Shoes without shoe trees tend to have their soles curl slightly. The tree keeps the sole flat for the long periods of non-use.
Shoe trees made from the shoe's last not only retard curling, but they keep the shoe's overall shape.

+1
 

Gdot

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When you buy shoes from $500-$1,500 a $30 shoe tree is cheap insurance.

And in that price range you should spend the change for lasted trees that match the shoes.
 

acridsheep

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Thanks guys. Your replies are most appreciated. I must say, it is rather exciting to get a reply to your thread. Just a few more questions; How significant is the curling and does it justify having a shoe tree? More specifically have you found this to be true yourself?  Your arguments are compelling but, are they founded?  In this case the argument in support of shoe trees seems to have a logical basis but has anyone ever tested it out? I'm just trying to stop myself from buying something because of mob psychology. 

Welcome. For your edification:

 

Quadcammer

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just buy them, or don't.

Honestly, the shoes won't look awful or die a massively premature death if you don't.

If you don't want to use them, don't
 

RDiaz

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Shoe trees won't prevent creasing, but they will minimize it and keep the shoes' shape. If you use trees, 10 year old shoes will have creases, but they will still look good. Without them, 10 year old shoes will be an unrecognizable mess of wrinkled leather. Your choice...
 
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Achilles_

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I will have to post some pictures of some Park Avenue AE's I bought over a year ago. (burgundy) I have worn them at least once a week, with trees in after every wear. Unless you look at the sole, they could pass as being worn once. Maybe it's that they are my perfect size, but I'm sure putting shoe trees in has saved them from more creasing.
 

viator

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First, I don't think anyone is saying using shoe trees is the only reason nice shoes will look good after 10 years. They are just one aspect of maintenance. Shoe trees, like polish, and rotating use, will extend the useful life of the shoes and keep them looking good for longer.

Second, if shoe trees are useless according to your hypothesis, why did they develop in the first place? Clearly shoemakers and shoe owners acknowledged long ago that taking off a pair of wet/sweaty shoes and just leaving them be does not lead to good results.

Third, you can get a pair of shoe trees for less than $20. Why would you want to take the risk of not using them on a pair of shoes that cost $300 or more?
 

jonnyt

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I started using trees about three years ago. Till that point, all my shoes looked quite creased, had curled soles and some cracking in the sole around the ball of my feet. Since using trees, I don't have any of these issues. Some of the shoes have almost no creasing despite wearing every week.
 

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