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[Leather Shoes Issue] Flaky texture on toe cap

SudoHalt

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Hello there, it's my first post here! I hope I'll be sticking around for a while!

I have a pair of Oxford shoes that I wear daily. I have always noticed that the toe cap of the left pair has an uneven surface. I'm not good at polishing, but I can get a much better shine on my right pair than I do on the left one.

It almost looks like someone unevenly splashed paint on it. The surface doesn't seem to be one layer and looks kind of flaky, but there's nothing at all that can be peeled off. I make sure to condition these shoes in due course.

I have tried rubbing it with alcohol for a solid half hour but nothing has changed. My nuclear option was to use fine sandpaper and going a few passes over the toe cap.

The sandpaper idea surprisingly worked, but I did not attempt to make it perfect for fear of damaging the shoes. I'm not even sure if this method is against the rule book.

May I ask if I am doing the right thing? If no, what is the proper remedy to this issue?
(In the picture, left pair was shined today, but the right pair was a week ago, yet it looks better IMO)
IMG_20200923_175554.jpg
 

Phileas Fogg

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How old are the shoes and how many layers of wax have been applied?

you may want to strip them both and then reapply. That might help.
 

SudoHalt

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How old are the shoes and how many layers of wax have been applied?

you may want to strip them both and then reapply. That might help.
Thanks a lot for offering help.
Sorry if I didn't clarify. The left toe cap came flaky out of the box. That was a year ago. I didn't bother with it at the time.

In the last few months I've attempted to strip it down twice, by rubbing alcohol for around half an hour. The flaky texture wasn't removed one bit in both attempts.
 

JFWR

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Sanding it down is a very bad idea because you're getting rid of the grain - you're basically making corrected grain leather out of full grain leather, which is a giant downgrade. It's super hard to tell if it was "flakey out of the box" in the sense of having a problem with the leather or with the finish, though.

Try this: Have you put any wax on it at all? If so, blow dry the toe cap for 5 minutes, moving the blow drier slowly over the surface so as not to burn it. See if it even things out.
 

SudoHalt

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Sanding it down is a very bad idea because you're getting rid of the grain - you're basically making corrected grain leather out of full grain leather, which is a giant downgrade. It's super hard to tell if it was "flakey out of the box" in the sense of having a problem with the leather or with the finish, though.

Try this: Have you put any wax on it at all? If so, blow dry the toe cap for 5 minutes, moving the blow drier slowly over the surface so as not to burn it. See if it even things out.
I have previously also tried the blow drying method. Unfortunately nothing has changed at all when I attempted.
 

JFWR

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I have previously also tried the blow drying method. Unfortunately nothing has changed at all when I attempted.
I don't know how they passed quality inspection off the factory floor, then, as clearly these are damaged if you can't remove the imperfection via anything other than sanding. It is not finish, it seems to be the hide.

You got a bad hide, man, nothing that can be done. You probably can't ruin them anymore than they already are ruined naturally, so go ahead and sand more and then just polish them heavily over that.
 

SudoHalt

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Good to know the reason nonetheless. I have been tirelessly trying to get the shine to be even on both pairs, but in vain. At least now I cannot be fooled again! I have also worn the heck out of them, and they are pretty comfortable apart from the defect.
 

JFWR

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Good to know the reason nonetheless. I have been tirelessly trying to get the shine to be even on both pairs, but in vain. At least now I cannot be fooled again! I have also worn the heck out of them, and they are pretty comfortable apart from the defect.
Yeah, I mean, you said you used alcohol and couldn't remove the finish. You'd have seen a difference if it was just the finish and not the leather.

I mean, the last thing you could try is acetone.
 

SudoHalt

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An update:
I have sanded down the toe cap, and it looked pretty good for a day. The exact same flaky like texture started to resurface. It is not something that can be peeled off or cleaned.

It turned out that this is due to water droplets. But why does this only happen to the left pair? Water droplets are impossible to avoid here in Hong Kong. The right pair handles droplets just perfectly.
 

JFWR

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An update:
I have sanded down the toe cap, and it looked pretty good for a day. The exact same flaky like texture started to resurface. It is not something that can be peeled off or cleaned.

It turned out that this is due to water droplets. But why does this only happen to the left pair? Water droplets are impossible to avoid here in Hong Kong. The right pair handles droplets just perfectly.
Maybe the leather was poorly tanned? I mean, this is so strange, I agree.
 

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