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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Team - I recently purchased a pair of Varvatos shoes (incidentally at a screamin' deal for handmade in Italy; anyone know the maker?). They were advertised online as dark brown, with no mention of "vintage" or "aged" or "distressed". Although the leather color may indeed be dark brown, I was a bit surprised and disappointed to find what appears to be a waxy film or finish covering the leather. It makes them look almost grey in some lights. So, basic question: how to remove it? Assuming, of course, it can be easily removed without damaging the leather. Thanks in advance, and no: these will not be worn with a suit or anything approaching dressy wear. On with the shoe porn:







 

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Have you tried anything thus far? I know digital pictures are really inaccurate finish wise but it looks like whatever is on the shoe isn't on it by the top lace holes on the right side of the right shoe but it is on the shoe tongue. You might want to test different "removers" on the tongue under the laces where it might not show as much. I would try a tiny bit of brown shoe polish on the tongue, just a spot rubbed in and then let it sit and then buff the hell out of the spot and see if the polish itself doesn't dissolve the finish.

Whatever it is appears to be either worn off in some areas or incompletely applied but I base that on the photos shown so you would have to judge.

testing the finish with shoe polish or a bit of soap and water would almost certainly not harm the shoe and it would eliminate the easiest of solutions before moving to bigger guns.
 

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RipRoar:

I think eagle2250 is right on here (let's hope) that it's just Spewing, a natural milky residue of wax, which forms on new shoes (especially cordovan).

This is a normal residue from the tanning of the leather. Wipe it off with a soft cloth or brush the shoe. To remove the spewing in difficult areas, such as between stitches, use a toothbrush.
 

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RipRoar:

I think eagle2250 is right on here (let's hope) that it's just Spewing, a natural milky residue of wax, which forms on new shoes (especially cordovan).

This is a normal residue from the tanning of the leather. Wipe it off with a soft cloth or brush the shoe. To remove the spewing in difficult areas, such as between stitches, use a toothbrush.
Isn't that a bit unhygenic?

W_B
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for your input - that is quite helpful and informative. I had never heard of spewing, and now I do hope that is the cause of the waxy film. I'll try wiping off with a soft slightly damp cloth.

If it does turn out to be an intentionally applied substance or finish, it may take more than a cloth wiping to remove. I have seen mention of using rubbing alcohol to remove finish from leather - would this be recommended as a recourse? If I do have to use a brief swab of rubbing alcohol, would I then need to follow up with a paste or wax to restore the leather?
 

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To me that looks like the leather has deliberately been waxed - or stuffed - to give it that waxy finish. It's the sort of thing that would suit the rocky rolly John Varvatos aesthetic. If thats the case and its not just (yuk) spewing...i dont know what the solution woult be but to stuff a flat color in after the plain wax and hope the new color eventually wins.
 

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Dear RR,

Of course, I would follow Andy's advice. He is the expert.

Speaking from experience with Varvatos shoes, the pair I have also has a finish to it. I think that trying to remove whatever patina the shoe was intended to come with would end up damaging the leather or ruining the look of the shoe.

From your icon I assume you cycle? I can't wait until it is warmer here in NJ so that I can hit the road again. Cycling indoors gets somewhat tiresome.

Best,

Jonathan
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
To me that looks like the leather has deliberately been waxed - or stuffed - to give it that waxy finish. It's the sort of thing that would suit the rocky rolly John Varvatos aesthetic. If thats the case and its not just (yuk) spewing...i dont know what the solution woult be but to stuff a flat color in after the plain wax and hope the new color eventually wins.
This is my thinking too - Varvatos has ruined plenty of perfectly good shoes with (yech) distressing. Not sure what it means to stuff leather, though...enlighten me? Shoe care is not an an area of expertise for me, but I am interpreting your advice to mean: with shoes in their current state, apply brown wax-based shoe polish?

Dear RR,

Of course, I would follow Andy's advice. He is the expert.

Speaking from experience with Varvatos shoes, the pair I have also has a finish to it. I think that trying to remove whatever patina the shoe was intended to come with would end up damaging the leather or ruining the look of the shoe.

From your icon I assume you cycle? I can't wait until it is warmer here in NJ so that I can hit the road again. Cycling indoors gets somewhat tiresome.

Best,

Jonathan
Yep, prime cycling season is fast approaching. And I, for one, could not be more excited to be doing it outdoors. Trainers are for the birds. :(
 

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This is my thinking too - Varvatos has ruined plenty of perfectly good shoes with (yech) distressing. Not sure what it means to stuff leather, though...enlighten me? Shoe care is not an an area of expertise for me, but I am interpreting your advice to mean: with shoes in their current state, apply brown wax-based shoe polish?
My area of expertise runs out pretty close to yours im afraid. I have seen waxed leather shoes before - winter versions of deck shoes (sebago perhaps) that had a similar finish.
I remember the term 'stuffing' being used, referring to the leather being literally stuffed (via application with a cloth i guess) with wax until it cant absorb any more (thereby rendering it partially waterproof). I pray an actual shoe expert might step in here....as im not entirely convinced that is what happened here.
 
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