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Saphir Shoe Care Products

Roger

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In responding to Meaculpa's recent thread on shoe care sites, I mentioned Franco's as one possibility for the Saphir line. A while back, Ron Rider sent me some brochure materials on Saphir that Franco's were going to be stocking. I haven't yet purchased anything from this line mainly because I wasn't sure of which of their products corresponded to the North American standards, such as Allen-Edmonds, Kiwi (I know, I know, it's English), etc. Despite being a lifelong Canadian, I must confess that I'm not bilingual (living in Western Canada), and much of Saphir's prose escaped me. However, since people have raved about Saphir products, I'd like to learn more.

As far as I can tell, they offer the full line of care products: conditioner (Renovateur, and possibly Special Reptile), cream (Pommadier and possibly Pate de Luxe), and paste wax (Brosse Polissoir). These products all have the words Saphir Medaille D'Or 1925 on their labels. Therefore, can we assume that they correspond to similar products from other suppliers like, for example, Allen-Edmonds, who supply cleaner/conditioner, cream, and wax polish? I recall a thread contributed to by Ron Rider (now undoubtedly lost in the ether of cyberspace--the thread that is, not Ron), in which he noted the way in which Saphir polish differed from other wax polishes, and I vaguely recall that it might have had something to do with the base being a different chemical.

So...can anyone:

1. Tell us the ways in which the Saphir products are superior to those in common use in North America?

2. Describe his experiences with the various Saphir products?

3. Describe his shoe-care drill when using Saphir products?

Note: This is not a short-answer question on which you will be graded.
 

whoopee

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Saphir products use a natural turpentine base as opposed to some more chemical intensive polishes. This is supposedly better for the shoes.

I am very happy with Saphir waxes. They give a deeper, more lustrous shine - it seems to sink into the shoe, instad of being superficial. Avel creams are very nice, too, but I rarely use them myself.
 

Demeter

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I guess I can weigh in on this from what little experience I have. 1. What whoopee said. Essentially Saphir MÃ
daille d'Or waxes (the rest of their product line is far too varied for this would-be short comparison, and besides, what else do we care about besides creams and waxes?) use an 8.6% beeswax base, along with turpentine, carnuba wax, and mink, seal and oxfoot oils. They say this is instrumental in not drying out your shoes, but I've never heard of shoes using Kiwi polishes drying out. Maybe someone else can opine here? Lattanzi uses Kiwi, from what I know. Avel (Saphir's mama bird) products are repackaged as (and used by) Saphir, Berluti, Hermes, Lobb, Weston, and a few others, I'm sure. 2. I'll have to get back to you on this one.
A few of my clients swear by it, but it's possible that it may just be out of habit and comfort. 3. More or less the same drill as with any other product. I'll be trying out Saphir on a couple of new belt models I'm envisaging - will be creating a patina. Hopefully sometime next week. Again, I'llhave to get back to you on this one. D
 

sysdoc

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I don't believe much in mysticism when it comes to anything, which naturally includes the polishing of shoes as well as the polishing wax utilized in the process. While my knowledge of organic chemistry is somewhat greater than zero, it certainly does not extend at all far into the realms of preserving or even enhancing the collagen fibers that make up most of what we happen to call leather.

I believe in empiricism however.

My experience with Saphir wax is entirely positive and in fact delightful. No other wax seems to produce the same shine. I water polish my shoes and I have yet to find a wax that creates the ultimate spit/water polishing as easily and as pleasantly as Saphir Pate de luxe. This experience is the reason why I predominantly polish my shoes with Saphir Pate de luxe.

I have also noticed that Saphir Pate de luxe is softer than e.g. Kiwi or Burgol wax and that it seems to sink into the leather while the others don't. I would not claim however that this observation provides any proof for an alleged superiority of Saphir wax when it comes to the nourishing of leather.

There is an additional reason why I prefer Saphir waxes over all others. Only Pate de luxe is blessed with an actual pleasant scent. Kiwi smells rather nasty, Burgol wax actually stinks and gives me a headache after about 30 minutes of polishing.

As far as other shoe care products go, I never saw any use in them. Shoes are no pets that need to be fed and watered, nor do they require psychological attention or counsel (sometimes required by the owners). I have learned that one should merely keep them clean, dry and well polished and they will accompany their lucky owner for decades.
 

Roger

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Sysdoc, I too am an empiricist! It's true, though, that we often encounter a somewhat more, let's say, intuitive attitude on the part of some towards certain products. Given that you have probably the most extensive collection of fine shoes of anyone on this forum (with the possible exception of Ken Pollock if he posts here), let me ask you this: Does your shoe care regimen include just cleaning (with, perhaps, a damp cloth) followed by a wax polish? In other words, do you dispense with any moisturizing steps (like leather conditioner or shoe creams), except for the nourishing provided by Saphir polish? Have you ever noticed a drying-out or cracking of the leather after long periods of non-use (and hence non-polishing)?
 

lionel

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If you need a global view of the Avel products, go to valmour.fr. By the way, Avel produces an amazing range of woodcare products called "Louis XIII". I highly recommend their "Pâte de Luxe" for wood, which is available in a variety of colours.

I don't know if Mr. Vallez, the owner, accepts international orders in this moment though.
 

Etienne

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Originally Posted by Roger
These products all have the words Saphir Medaille D'Or 1925 on their labels.
They have a "mÃ
daille d'or" line and a basic line, as far as I know. I use the basic one with great success.
 

DocHolliday

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Originally Posted by sysdoc
As far as other shoe care products go, I never saw any use in them. Shoes are no pets that need to be fed and watered, nor do they require psychological attention or counsel (sometimes required by the owners). I have learned that one should merely keep them clean, dry and well polished and they will accompany their lucky owner for decades.

No leather conditioner? I have had several pairs benefit greatly from a treatment.
 

Teacher

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Originally Posted by DocHolliday
No leather conditioner? I have had several pairs benefit greatly from a treatment.

How often? I never use it and have become skeptical, but then again....
 

DocHolliday

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Originally Posted by Teacher
How often? I never use it and have become skeptical, but then again....

Depends on the shoe, really. I have a pair of thin Italian leather shoes that seem to like quite a lot. They're almost glove soft, and the conditioner really improves the surface appearance. I also have a pair of inexpensive beater shoes that take a good bit. It makes the leather much softer, and I'm pretty sure I've extended the life of the shoes significantly by regular application.

I condition pretty much every shoe I buy before wearing.
 

Roger

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Originally Posted by DocHolliday
I condition pretty much every shoe I buy before wearing.
Doc, do you apply conditioner during each regular shoe-care session--i.e., to be then followed by polish--or only before the first wearing? It seems to me that the optimal shoe-care procedure would be to: (a) clean the leather with a damp cloth and let dry, (b) rub in conditioner (to soften and nourish the leather and keep it supple), (c) fix any scuffs that have acquired a lighter color with cream (Meltonian, A-E, etc.), (d) apply a coat of polish with wax (Kiwi, Lincoln, A-E), and (e) do the sole edges and heels with edge dressing. This would presumably not be necessary any more frequently than, say, 6-8 wearings, with a simple wipe-down sufficient after each wearing. However, it would be a time-consuming drill.

You could reduce the time somewhat by droppng the cream step, using the conditioner to do the nourishing that some use cream for, and you could drop the edge-dressing step by including the sole edges and heel edges in the polishing step (being careful to keep the polish off the bottom).

However, having said all that, I have observed that most owners of fine shoes and the makers themselves seem to feel that that the only really necessary step is the polishing with a product that contains wax, for protection against the elements. Presumably, the moisturizing step--via conditioner or cream--is seen as unnecessary, although it's hard to see how most polishes provide much moisturizing.
 

sysdoc

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Originally Posted by Roger
Sysdoc, I too am an empiricist! It's true, though, that we often encounter a somewhat more, let's say, intuitive attitude on the part of some towards certain products. Given that you have probably the most extensive collection of fine shoes of anyone on this forum (with the possible exception of Ken Pollock if he posts here), let me ask you this: Does your shoe care regimen include just cleaning (with, perhaps, a damp cloth) followed by a wax polish? In other words, do you dispense with any moisturizing steps (like leather conditioner or shoe creams), except for the nourishing provided by Saphir polish? Have you ever noticed a drying-out or cracking of the leather after long periods of non-use (and hence non-polishing)?
Roger, please forgive my extremely delayed return to this thread.
In a way, my shoe regimen entails "whatever it takes".
  • Normally, I start by leaving my shoes to dry and rest for several days.
  • The next procedure is to clean the shoe. Normally this is done with a reasonably soft brush for the upper, sometimes a soft damp cloth for stuff that sticks to the surface and a stiffer brush for the welts. In fact, especially walks in the rain make the welt at the tip the dirtiest area of the shoe and it takes a bit of an effort to remove that dirt. I also use an actual super stiff 'vegetable brush' for the sole of the shoe. It is even capable of removing the tiny little stones that sometimes get stuck in the sole.
  • The next step depends on the condition of the polishing. If the shoe has only got some minor scuffs, I simply go ahead and repolish the whole shoe with special focus on those areas that have lost the mirror shine. If the polishing job has been severely damaged, I remove all the old wax with a special leather cleaner that removes wax within minutes. After that I give the pair an intensive new mirror polish, maybe with some new kind of antiquing.
  • Like Whoopee I also polish the sole in the area between the front and the heel that doesn't touch the ground. Occasionally I treat the sole with leather grease in case it's been subjected to long walks in the rain.
I've got a pair of Vass U-last New Norwegians that got a lot of reasonably nasty water marks from a long and rainy day in the city (something that never happened to any of my JLs or EGs btw). This pair will require a full bath. I'm planning to photo-document this procedure once I have the time for it. After this bath I do agree that the shoe will require some kind of moisturizing. I have never experienced any drying out or cracking of any of my shoes.
 

Roger

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Sysdoc, thanks for this. It is comforting to learn that once one moves into the realm of really good shoes, he doesn't have to worry too, too much about care--relying on only a good polishing regimen like the one you describe. I'm learning too that leaving shoes for a long time without attention (when they aren't being worn) doesn't lead to a drying-out of the leather and potential cracking. Perhaps when we buy our first EGs or JLs, we worry too much that they will go to rat***t if we don't baby them.
 

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