Three top tips to help keep your shoes in great shape.
Britain’s most infamous and influential dandy, Mr Beau Brummell, was said to have polished his boots with champagne. Whether true or not (probably not), the rumour hits upon an essential truth: nice leather shoes are worth looking after.
“Look after your shoes and your shoes will look after you,” says Mr George Glasgow of London shoemakers George Cleverley. And hand-lasted shoes, like the ones you’ll find at George Cleverley, if cared for properly, can last decades, looking as good – if not better – than when brand new.
According to Mr Glasgow, shoe care comes to down to three things: shoe trees, resoling, and polish. So here are his tips for keeping your shoes in tip-top condition.
Ironically, one of the worst things you can do to your shoes is to wear them. Mr Glasgow recommends wearing brand-new shoes for only a few hours at a time initially, so as to break them in a bit. Most crucially, whether new or not, it’s essential to put them into a well-fitting cedarwood shoe trees immediately after taking them off. “You must do it when the shoe is still warm. Our ones can be adjusted to fit the forepart of the shoe to minimise creases. Cedarwood shoe trees are best because they’re lightweight, meaning you can travel with them. If you neglect to use shoe trees, creases will form, the shoe will lose its shape and the leather will crack.”
Just because your soles are worn through does not mean that they are ready for the bin. The beauty of British-made shoes is that they can be resoled many times over. Any good shoemaker worthy of the name will offer an extensive aftercare service. “We always recommend returning the shoes back to us,” says Mr Glasgow, “as we’ll repair them on the original last using the same materials, in the same way that they were made.”
According to Mr Glasgow, more often than not, the heels will need replacing before the sole. “Just turn the shoe over and take a look. The sole will look a little thinner or there might be a hole. Or press down on it and see if it feels soft. The shoe itself will talk to you and say, ‘I need some TLC. Repair me!’”
“Shoe-polishing is always done in a hurry,” says Mr Glasgow. “The problem is you end up wiping most of the polish off after a couple of minutes, when actually, you need to let it feed into the leather for at least two hours, or even overnight.” Shoe polish not only gives your shoes a pleasing lustre and shine, it nourishes and moisturises the leather and prevents it from cracking.
With that in mind, the rest of the process is pretty simple:
01. Use a horsehair brush to get rid of any excess dirt and dust off the shoe.
02. Get an old rag to apply the polish in a small circular motion, and leave it on for a few hours.
03. Use a toothbrush or similar sized brush to get polish into the stitching in between the welt and the shoe, as this can also get dry and crack.
04. Use the horsehair brush to buff your shoes to a high shine.
05. Finally, for an extra bit of shine, get a piece of selvyt cloth, which is the same type of cloth used by diamond merchants and silversmiths, for a final once-over.
Summer is here, which means it’s officially sandal season! While flip-flops are a staple every woman needs in her closet, espadrilles are a chic and fun way to change things up a bit.
Although espadrilles have been around for centuries, they’ve been especially popular over the last few years — so much so that even the Duchess of Cambridge was recently spotted wearing a pair!
If you’re wanting to channel the former Kate Middleton this summer, we found some options to add a royal touch to your wardrobe. Whether you’re looking for a pair of flirty wedge espadrilles or some colorful espadrille mules to add a pop of color to your outfit, there are plenty of trendy options to choose from.
New technologies for a circular economy Technologies – MU Sustainable Innovation
The link between clothing and agriculture is ancient. The cultivation of natural fibers has provided raw materials for the textile industry for centuries. Today the aim to cut waste has triggered the development of new materials from agro-food waste, suitable for use in the textile and clothing industry.
It is not a naive, new-age, or DIY phenomenon, however. It is about research developed by universities and laboratories and then industrialized. Let’s see some non-exhaustive examples of the range of new materials of this type.
Piñatex is a company based in England that transforms waste from pineapple production. The fibers are extracted from the leaves of the pineapple plant through a decortication process. Once the leaves have been stripped of the fibers, the remaining biomass can be used as a natural nutrient-rich fertilizer or biofuel, so nothing is wasted. The fibers are then degreased and undergo an industrial process to become a non-woven fabric, which forms the basis of Piñatex®. The material is then transformed with finishes that give it a similar look to the leather, creating a flexible but resistant fabric. (www.ananas-anam.com)
Frumat, an Italian company from South Tyrol, recycles apple waste. The flour obtained by drying apple peels and cores is mixed with water and natural glue and compacted. The final material, similar to leather, is a mixture of apple fibers (50%) and polyurethane (50%), mainly used in footwear and accessories, but also for clothing.
Vegea, an Italian company, whose brand derives from the combination of VEG (Vegan) and GEA (Mother Earth), is engaged in the research and production of a new generation of bio-based materials. These include a material produced from the marc, skins, seeds, and stems of the bunch of grapes discarded in the production of wine. A bio-oil is extracted from the seeds, polymerized using a patented process. Skins and stems are used in a compound, also patented, for the production of fabrics with advanced technical properties. (www.vegeacompany.com)
Nanollose, an Australian company, produces cellulose from nanometric fibers using a bacterium (AcetobacterXylinum), not dangerous for human health, and capable of metabolizing agricultural waste. It is, therefore, an alternative to producing cellulose, the primary material of viscose, from wood. (nanollose.com)
The VTT research center of the Finnish University of Aalto, also active in the research on alternative cellulose production methods, adopts a different approach to fixing cellulose nanofibrils obtained from wood pulp with proteins taken from the cobweb threads. The result: vegetable spider silk. (bit.ly/vttresearch)
Sustainability is becoming more important in consumer choices overall.
Generation Z is generation green.
The cohort of shoppers typically 22 and under is more willing to pay up for sustainable brands compared to other demographics, according to a study by First Insight. The findings by the digital research company found that 73 percent of those it surveyed would pay more for sustainable items, with the majority of that chunk willing to pay a 10 percent price premium.
“With Generation Z on track to becoming the largest generation of consumers this year, retailers and brands must start supercharging sustainability practices now if they are to keep pace,” says First Insight CEO Greg Petro. “With every generation, sustainability is becoming further embedded in purchase decisions.”
Retailers are racing to meet rising consumer demand for sustainable or environmentally-friendly products. Apparel is a notoriously wasteful industry, sucking up vast amounts of water and easily discarding clothing. Some retailers like Gap and Everlane have invested in sustainable business practices while others have built their business models around it. The second-hand apparel market comprised of companies like the RealReal and ThredUP that buy and sell high-quality used clothes are gaining in popularity as environmental concerns gain traction.
The study of 1,000 U.S. respondents showed the Gen Z population beat out the preceding cohort known as Millennials, as well as Generation X, which refers to the group of people born after the Baby Boomers, in terms of preference for sustainable items. The Baby Boomer demographic, often the grandparents of Gen Z, were the “hold outs,” according to the study. Still, sustainability is becoming more important in consumer choices overall and the majority of respondents expect brands and retailers to become more sustainable, according to First Insight.
White sneakers are everything that is good in the world. They go with basically everything, they are always in style, and they make everything you wear feel just a touch cooler. That is, at least, when those white sneakers are actually white. The obvious and detrimental downside to a great white sneaker is that it gets dirty and it gets dirty fast.
There are a few simple things you can do to make sure they stay looking fresh. Don’t wear them near dirt, mud, or any kind of sketchy grime. Don’t wear them in the rain (especially canvas!) or just after the rain. Puddles are not your friend, not in white sneakers they’re not. White workout sneakers are pretty, too, but might we suggest staying away from outdoor runs and keeping them for indoor workouts only.
There is also the issue of fabrics on the shoe. Maybe you manage to keep the uppers clean but the soles look like trash. Or maybe you have some scuffing around the toes, but the tongue and heels look great. When it comes to keeping sneakers clean, it’s important to take note of these things. Is the sneaker made of leather, canvas, or some other material? Is the sole rubber or foam? And is every part of the sneaker a single fabric, or will you be looking to spot treat different areas for different reasons?
Take a minute to survey your sneaker stains—or sneakers you would like to never become stained—and take note. Here’s how to clean your white sneakers, according to experts.
How to Clean White Leather Sneakers
White leather sneakers are the easiest of the fabric bunch to clean and keep clean. Bernie Gross, the creative director at Extra Butter, recommends sticking to his favorite: Jason Markk sneaker cleaner. “It’s become the industry standard for footwear maintenance,” he says. “And being that it’s almost completely all natural and biodegradable, it’s safe on all materials.” There are some household DIYs you can test out, if you’re feeling up to the challenge: mix water with baking soda, use laundry detergent, or even spot clean with toothpaste—just make sure it also has baking soda in it.
The experts at Koio recommend spot cleaning your shoes before going all out. Not only is this a good way to get an even clean, but it also ensures whatever cleaner you’re using works well with the fabric. Megan Defeo, Koio’s marketing associate, recommends using Crep’s cleaning kit—the cleaning solution, a microfiber towel, and a brush—for the most productive clean. Brush the diluted solution into the leather gently. No. Scrubbing. Going too hard can break up the leather.
Wil Wispin, the U.S. Brand Director at Sneakersnstuff, adds mild dish soap into the mix: “I love a good microfiber cloth with a little mild dish soap—not too wet,” he says. “Get one hand inside of the shoe and wipe away, putting a little more elbow grease on the soles where you can scrub harder. Wipe with a dry cloth or towel.
As for the Magic Eraser trick you might’ve seen around the internet? Save it for the rubber soles and skip it on the leather. “Magic Erasers contain chemicals that can be too harsh and even ruin the natural finish on the sneaker,” Gross says. “You want to preserve that varnish as much as you can to keep the integrity of the leather.” That goes for other household cleaning products that might seem to work but will really do more damage.
“When I first met my current girlfriend, she was Windex-ing her white shoes,” says Gross. “They barely made it 3 months, the leather basically started peeling. They deserved better.”
How to Clean White Canvas Sneakers
White canvas sneakers need a little bit different of a treatment. The canvas is porous, so the same leather pastes and cleaners are going to seep into the stains instead of pulling them out. “I’ve seen YouTube’s of people suggesting to let the paste dry out in the sun for a full effect,” says Gross. “That’s basically asking for the baking soda to try and get caught in the tight weave of the canvas.”
Instead? “Do a dry pass on the canvas first with a sturdy brush to get any loose dirt off,” says Gross. “When using a wet solution, keep the water content low so the canvas doesn’t soak it up too much. Work quick, and dry off as much as you can with a fiber towel.”
How to Prevent White Sneaker Stains
Of course, the best way to keep white sneakers clean is to prevent them from getting spotty in the first place. Koio likes shielding them with Crep’s protect spray, which helps avert dirt, stains, and liquid from getting in.
Make sure your shoes are dry, spray from 20 cm away, let them dry for 10 minutes, and repeat. Let the sneakers breathe for a day before wearing them again, and make sure they’re dry before you do.
Also on the list of “hacks” to leave on the internet: drying via direct sunlight or using a hairdryer to get the shoes drier faster. Koio experts say it can cause the materials to crease, crack, or dry out.
Other Tips for Sneaker Maintenance
White shoes are a good test in keeping your clothing maintenance in check. We buy nice things and we take care of them. Good care! Ready to level up? Koio recommends conditioning your sneakers once a month to help them live a long and fruitful life. Put a little bit on a cloth and work it into the leather.
For workout sneakers? Wispin sometimes puts them in the washing machine with a towel and a cold setting, regular detergent. Do this at your own risk—and definitely don’t put them in the drier.
For a quick refresh—and a total cleaning overhaul—don’t skip on the power of a fresh new pair of laces. Laces often look beat up real fast and are basically impossible to get 100% clean. A new pair is worth the money, every time.
Lastly, Wispin recommends the most tried and true method of keeping white sneakers white: “Literally, physically, keep everyone at arm’s length. Just a basic reinforcement of personal space.” It’s good for public health and good for your sneakers.
If there were ever a time for fashion to reinvent itself, it is now. The industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Billions of dollars of clothing orders placed with manufacturers around the world have been cancelled. Major physical retailers have shuttered. Online sales are down by as much as 30-40% in the US. A majority of fashion businesses are likely to suffer financial distress over the coming months. Many will not survive.
A so-called “black swan,” COVID-19 has exposed a fundamental weakness in the traditional fashion system: matching supply and demand. Industry leaders have long known that the old way of doing things – i.e. seasonally manufacturing items abroad without any advance customer feedback and then, months later, hoping that these items sell in retail stores around the world – doesn’t work. Industry overproduction runs at an incredible 30 – 40% eachseason. For a business with $2.5 trillion in global annual revenues, fashion is ripe for an overhaul of how it produces and in what quantities.
Not only is the traditional fashion system financially wasteful, it is also very damaging to the environment. According to the 2019 Global Wellness Trends Report, fashion is the world’s second worst offender in terms of water pollution. It is also responsible for roughly 10% of all carbon emissions. The price of beauty on the planet is high and real.
So as the world sits on pause during this COVID-19 crisis, there exists a rare opportunity for the fashion world to rethink how it does things, financially and environmentally. This is certainly true of the major incumbents, fashion houses that control a large portion of the industry value chain. But it also applies to new entrants: innovators and disruptors that might find it the perfect time to shake things up and improve upon the status quo.
A growing number of industry experts believe that fast, on-demand manufacturing is an important part of the next normal for fashion.
One of these people is Kirby Best, CEO of OnPoint Manufacturing, based in Florence, Alabama. Having built a career in the publishing industry perfecting the on-demand manufacturing of books, Best, a decade ago, decided to apply his learnings to the apparel industry. He designed a technology and manufacturing facility that allows fashion brands to bring on-demand products to market quickly and cost effectively.
“By using an on-demand model, our customers no longer need to order hundreds of something that they may never sell. With on-demand manufacturing there is no inventory, no fabric waste, and no warehousing,” says Best.
On-demand is both more economical and sustainable. Waste in the industry is rampant and expensive. On-demand production allows fashion brands to reduce their upfront cash need and minimize excess inventory.
It is also more logical. Whereas traditional clothing manufacturing is done weeks or months in advance of sales — sometimes halfway around the world, without any guarantee that the product will sell at retail — on-demand is speedy and surgical: product is only made once the sale has been booked and it can ship in a matter of days. For brands, this means no costly leftover inventory to send to landfill at the end of each season – a win for the bottom line and the environment.
But will fast, on-demand manufacturing be transformative for the industry? Is the necessary investment in equipment and “cut and sew” skills prohibitively expensive and complex?
According to Best, the challenge is a change of mindset more than the investment in hard technology and labor. He believes it is only a matter of time: “Change requires patience. When on-demand first came to the book publishing industry, the publishers initially resisted the model. Now they have adopted it broadly alongside (traditional) long-run offset printing. I believe the same thing will happen in the fashion industry. And I believe the pressures from COVID-19 will accelerate this shift.”
Local Vs. Global
On-demand manufacturing is most efficient if production is done close to the end consumer. This allows brands to sell online and deliver to customers within days without holding inventory. For example, with its Alabama location, OnPoint can receive an order and get it to a customer’s doorstep just about anywhere in the U.S in a day or two.
But while a large portion of clothing manufacturing is done abroad, COVID-19 has also highlighted the benefits of brands manufacturing locally even under a traditional (i.e. non on-demand) model.
Pierre Mallevays, Managing Partner at Savigny Partners, a mergers and acquisitions firm focused on the luxury sector, notes that “the existing global supply chain model left many high and dry during the time of COVID due to factory closures and delays in international shipping.”
Local production and warehousing of inventory would therefore solve the crippling bottleneck caused by a crisis like a pandemic. However, manufacturing locally and holding inventory is only a solution if there is demand for the product – reinforcing the need for the industry to better match supply and demand.
The rationale most commonly given by the industry for manufacturing abroad is the cost advantage. Best thinks this logic is flawed, citing Asia as an example of a manufacturing location where the industry has underestimated the overall cost base: “When you look solely at the manufacturing cost per unit you are only getting part of the picture. You also have to consider other factors, such as warehousing, shipping and the risks associated with the value of time. When all of this is taken into account, I am not sure the cost of manufacturing in Asia is really lower. COVID-19 has brought this all into focus.” Manufacturing, according to Best, will eventually return closer to the customer, to be performed in a market near where he or she lives
However, some industry experts fear that a move towards “local only” production will hurt the industry in other ways, including the loss of specialized skills and techniques from a global workforce that depends on providing them.
Bibhu Mohapatra, a New York based fashion designer, highlights the danger of abandoning manufacturing abroad : “If we don’t think globally, certain skills and crafts are going to die, such as embroidery that comes out of India.” He also points to the human impact of a dramatic shift from global manufacturing: “I believe in supporting local businesses but we need to maintain a balance. We can’t leave people behind. As a creative I have a responsibility to pay attention to the artisans that have been supporting my business from the beginning.”
So while a return to local production is a likely scenario for the industry, it would seem this shift needs to happen carefully and thoughtfully or it may invite more problems than it solves. A balanced mix of global and local manufacturing is perhaps the best way forward.
The End Of Fashion Seasons
Industry leaders increasingly agree that brands adhering to “fashion seasons” – i.e. introducing a fixed number of collections each year according to a set schedule – makes less and less sense. This tradition can lead to brands and retailers being stuck with large amounts of inventory that does not sell through. Since manufacturing against this schedule is done months in advance, any hiccup along the way can throw off the success of the entire model.
Case in point is the current COVID-19 situation: due to sharp sudden decline in consumer demand, many brands and retailers are sitting on a huge surplus of clothing from the Spring/Summer 2020 season. This inventory will lose most of its value over the next couple of months and be removed from full price retail stores by the late summer.
According to Mallevays, this antiquated approach to selling is poised to change: “It is likely that brands will seek to reduce seasonality in favor of a core, repeatable range whilst focusing on their territory and point of difference. Range widths may be cut down.”
Mohapatra concurs, noting that he and many of his designer friends are rethinking their approach to seasonal collections: “Consumers are frustrated. Women go into a department store in the summer to look for a bathing suit and find nothing. All that is there is Fall merchandise”. Consequently, Mohapatra is leaning towards producing smaller drops of product each month: “I don’t think it is going to matter much anymore to follow the traditional schedule.”
Environmentally, a “seasonless” shift is much better, since it tamps down on the notion that any collection has a short shelf life that must be replaced with next season’s offering – which leads to more clothing being produced and waste. What the impact this shift would have on fashion creativity and how designers design remains to be seen.
The Consumer First
A silver lining to the current outbreak is the overall growth of online fashion shopping. Consumers who previously only shopped for garments in physical stores are purchasing online for the first time. Brands that hadn’t developed their e-commerce capabilities are now doing so. Direct relationships between brands and customers are being fostered like never before.
“The trend to go more digital creates a better, more direct dialogue between fashion brands and their customers — and it offers designers tools to better understand the tastes and preferences of shoppers,” says Mallevays.
Mohapatra echoes the notion that COVID-19 has placed the shopper squarely in the spotlight: “We have all been forced to hit the reset button. The old system wasn’t sustainable. We can no longer mindlessly produce things and hope the consumption will keep up. The focus, now more than ever, needs to be on the consumer.”
How this shift affects the multi-brand retailers is yet to be seen. Those for whom a bulk of their business is already online will clearly be at an advantage. “For multi-brand retailers it will be more important than ever to justify their point of difference, be it by curation, location or price,” states Mallevays.
Ultimately, any increased attention by the industry on a movement towards sustainability bodes well for brands and shoppers alike. Consumer interest in sustainable fashion has been on the rise, with Internet searches for “sustainable fashion” tripling between 2016 to 2019. This is reflected in the growing interest consumers are showing in buying sustainable and vintage clothing, and using clothing rental services – each of which is more eco-friendly than shopping seasonally. It was also demonstrated in the protests against wastefulness during London Fashion Week last September which received significant interest from the press.
Undoubtedly the COVID-19 pandemic has meaningfully affected the fashion industry. How the business responds in the longer term is the opportunity at hand. Will brands implement changes such as shifting to on-demand manufacturing via local companies? Will consumers demand a closer direct relationship to brands that shun excess production and focus on sustainability? If ever there were a moment for the industry to bear the time and cost of improving itself, it is now when tolerance of waste-producing business models is diminished and expectations for purpose-driven sustainable action is heightened. 2020 has been a chaotic year to date for the business, but chaos breeds opportunity.