1. Think: quality first. The most effective way of making sure your shoes last longer is to invest in them in the first place.
2. Protect the soles. The first place you’ll see wear on your shoes is the soles (obvs) but you can give them a longer life span by wearing removable sticky sole protectors.
3. Spray with a water protector. Suede or leather are vulnerable when wet but there are loads of sprays out there that can stop any damage happening. Simply spray before you wear them, and follow the instructions on the bottle to top up the protection every few months.
4. Use a wooden shoe tree. These will stretch the shoes to their original size preventing creasing and allowing the leather to breath. The wooden shoe trees will also absorb any sweat/moisture which can age your shoes (and smell nasty).
5. Stuff them with newspaper. If your shoe addiction would leave you taking out a small mortgage on shoe trees, use newspaper as an alternative. Don’t be afraid to be generous and really pad out the shoes as much as possible.
6. Keep them in dust bags. If you’ve splashed out on an expensive pair of shoes, chances are they will already come with a handy dust bag to protect them when in storage. If you aren’t lucky enough to own any, a pillowcase acts as a great dust bag substitute.
7. Store in a dry place. Shoes + moisture = bad so try and find a play that is cool and dry for your shoes to sleep at night.
8. Rotate your shoes. We KNOW they’re your fave pair of shoes but srsly, if you wear them every day for the next month they are going to age super quick. Try not to wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row.
Sex and The City
9. Polish your leather shoes. It might seem old school but a slick of polish really can work wonders in bringing your leather shoes back to life. You’ll also be able to notice any wears or tears that might need repairing from your closer inspection.
10. Use a shoe horn. Struggle to get your shoes on every day? The more you shove your feet into your shoes, the more you’ll damage the backs of the heels and cut years from their life span.
11. Replace the soles. If the soles are starting to look like they’re on the way out, take them to a cobbler and get new ones. The more you wear down the soles, the more it will effect the rest of the shoe and make them unfixable.
Jess Edwards Digital Editor Jess Edwards is the Editor of Cosmopolitan.com/UK, overseeing all things digital.
- 10 Clever Ways You Can Make Your Shoes Last Longer
- 10. Condition your shoes
- What to do when your smart shoes get soggy
- How to make leather shoes last longer—or the best way to polish your smart shoes
- Here’s How To Keep Your Shoes In Tip-Top Shape
- 1. Cleaning Shoes
- 2. Packing
- 3. Stretching Shoes
- 4. Drying
- 5. Fighting stench
- Related Stories
- How Long Do Running Shoes Last?
- How to Tell if Running Shoes are Worn Out
- How Do I Know When It Is Time To Replace My Athletic Shoes?
- If You’re Running…
- If You’re Weightlifting…
- If You’re Training…
- Anatomy of a Running Shoe
- 10 Ways to Make Your Shoes Last Longer
- 1. Invest in Quality From the Get-go
- 2. Protect the Soles
- 3. Don’t Use the Washing Machine
- 4. Stuff With Newspaper
- 5. Spray With a Water Repellent
- 6. Repair Before You Replace
- 7. Store in a Safe Place
- 8. Use a Shoehorn
- 9. Buff and Shine Your Dress Shoes
- 10. Apply a Moisturizer
- Shoe cleaning essentials
10 Clever Ways You Can Make Your Shoes Last Longer
Each pair might vary in flexibility — your penny loafers, for example, will be easier to stretch than calf-high boots — but it’s worth going to a cobbler if you really love your shoes. Just make sure you enlist a professional to complete this task. Stretching your shoes sounds easy, but it can cause more harm than good. As for shoes that are too big? Try inserting a padded insole.
10. Condition your shoes
Take the time to care for your leather kicks. | iStock.com/grinvalds
Leather isn’t some all-powerful fabric that can withstand even the most wear and tear. When you think about it, it’s a species’ skin. And like our own skin, it cracks and weakens whenever its exposed to cold, dry climates. If you want to extend the life of your favorite leather shoes, you might want to consider applying some leather conditioner once a month. (Yes, that’s a thing.)
According to Yael Steren, lathering your shoes in some special cream will keep your pair crack-free. But where do you pick up a leather conditioner? Leather Honey’s conditioner has nearly 4,000 exceptional reviews on Amazon as well as a 4.4/5 rating on the site. Seems like a good place to start.
Follow Kelsey on Twitter @Kmulvs and Instagram @Kmulvs
What to do when your smart shoes get soggy
What with our current stream of wind, sleet and rain, your leather shoes might be suffering along with your mood. So we put together a guide to two things: What to do when your smart shoes get soggy, and how to keep them lasting longer than usual.
Before any of that, though, here are two main things to remember:
1. “You need to think of leather like skin,” says Oliver Sweeney’s “cobbler in chief,” Tim Cooper. “If you don’t do anything with it, it dries out. If you moisturise it, it looks better longer. Moisturiser puts all the life back into it.”
2. Switch out your shoes so you don’t wear the same pair two days in a row. This will keep the soles from wearing out, and—if you use shoe trees—keep the shoes in general good nick.
I know it seems unrealistic and lifestyle blog-y, but we’re going to advocate shoe trees. Here’s why: they add at least six months to the life of your shoes. “It’s really simple,” says Cooper. “They allow the shoe to dry out in the right shape, rather than curling up at the toe like Turkish slippers.”
Photographed: Oliver Sweeney shoe trees (£49), Oliver Sweeney (£199)
Cedarwood is the best shoe tree material because it absorbs moisture; plastic shoe trees aren’t absorptive and therefore aren’t worth their salt. If you can’t stomach buying them, crumpled newspaper is an alternative. And whatever you do, don’t plop them by the radiator. “The soles will crack,” Cooper explains, “and they’ll get dried and crackly.”
What if your shoes get those white marks on them? “That’s not salt from the street, but actually the salt in the leather,” Cooper explains. “You can get it off using distilled white vinegar on a cotton bud.”
How to make leather shoes last longer—or the best way to polish your smart shoes
Step 1. Wrap a cloth around two fingers and apply polish to the shoe, going from the heel to the toe.
Photographed: Oliver Sweeney shoe polish (£15)
Step 2. Make sure to get the bits between the sole and the upper, and around the heel. You can use a toothbrush to get into those smaller places if you like.
Step 3. If possible, put the shoes in shoe trees and leave them for a while to let the polish sink in. With time—an hour or two, or even overnight—this will provide the most moisture.
Step 5. Take any excess polish off with a shoe brush.
Photographed: Oliver Sweeney shoe brush (£20)
Step 5. Polish the shoes in little circles to make them shine. Use an old t-shirt or a pair of women’s tights; sounds weird, but the texture helps get shoes to a high polish.
Step 6. Voilà! Good as new.
Here’s how to make your shoes last longer with a few quick and easy steps.
Have a cobbler put sole guards on leather-soled shoes. The thin pieces of rubber protect soles and prevent water from penetrating the leather.
Be sure to waterproof leather and suede shoes. Silicone sprays provide superior waterproofing, making them ideal for use on heavy boots that must withstand the elements. They do tend to darken light to midtone leathers and leave an oily residue, so for more delicate leather, suede or even fabric shoes, use a nonsilicone spray. Remove any dirt or dust from shoes before you spray them, and let them dry overnight.
Clean and protect your shoes, no matter the material.
Leather: Polish leather shoes every third or fourth time you wear them. Apply shoe polish with a horsehair applicator. Let polish set, and then buff shoes with a soft cotton cloth. Over time, the wax polish will dull the sheen of the shoes and block the pores of the leather. To remove buildup, use a cleaning solvent designed to dissolve oil-based stains. Apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Follow the cleaning with another application of waterproofing spray. After the shoes have dried, polish them once more to restore the oils.
Suede: Carefully remove dust from the shoes’ surfaces using a nylon brush. With a soft cotton cloth, apply a liquid cleanser made specifically for suede. Cover the shoes’ surfaces completely. Once the shoes are dry, use the brush to restore the nap. Suede erasers can be used to clean scuff marks.
Patent leather: To keep it clean and supple, polish with spray-on furniture polish. For an occasional quick fix, you can restore the shine to patent-leather shoes with an ammonia-based glass cleaner and a soft cotton cloth. (It may also be worth investing in a special patent-leather cleaner, which won’t dry out shoes.)
MORE MAINTENANCE TIPS
Don’t wear your shoes on consecutive days. Moisture from your feet can damage leather and distort the shape. Leave shoes out for a day in a well-ventilated place before returning them to storage or wearing them again.
Keep shoes free of dust, which can damage leather by drying it out or by trapping moisture. Give your closet a once-over every four months or so.
Clean muddy or worn footwear. Use a gentle leather cleaner, such as Lexol-pH (oily leather cleaners, such as saddle soap, leave a sticky residue). You may be able to treat some stains on your own, depending on the type of stain and the severity. Baby wipes are terrific for removing dark scuffs from leather shoes. For water-based stains on suede or nubuck, use a suede eraser, or go over the affected area very lightly with an emery board, being careful not to disturb the grain of the suede.
Keep shoes in a dry area, free from dust and direct sunlight.
Use flannel shoe bags. Avoid plastic containers. They don’t let air circulate around the shoes, which can lead to mold or dryness. Cardboard shoe boxes are not up to the job either. They can trap moisture and allow mold to grow. Some shoes come with flannel bags, but you can also buy them from a shoe-repair shop.
Use shoe trees and toe shapers to maintain the shape of your shoes and control odors and moisture. For sturdy leather styles such as men’s dress shoes, use cedar shoe trees — the cedar naturally absorbs dampness and unpleasant odors. For more delicate women’s shoes, use toe shapers. They are particularly handy for pointy footwear and other styles that can lose their shape.
Use boot shapers to keep your leather and suede boots from slouching.
Replace soles. To determine whether a shoe needs a new sole, press its center with your thumb; if it feels springy, it’s time to visit a cobbler. When considering professional repairs, note the value of your shoes. It may not be worth investing $70 to resole a $40 pair of shoes.
Replace heels. If you break a heel or decide you’d like to change the look of your shoes, your cobbler can increase or decrease the height of your shoes up to a half-inch when reheeling. A cobbler can also add a different style of heel.
Adjust the size. If your shoes are snug, they can be stretched up to half a size; some cobblers can take in the calves on a loose pair of boots.
Dye the leather. This is a great way to give new life to old shoes. In general, you should dye shoes to a darker shade; some suede and fragile or worn leathers may not be suitable for dyeing.
Questions may be sent to [email protected] or Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 11 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036. Sorry, no personal replies.
Here’s How To Keep Your Shoes In Tip-Top Shape
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Let’s be honest: We don’t always buy shoes because we need them. Sometimes a certain pair of shoes will just speak to you and you know that the two of you were meant to be together. That’s why it’s so important to make these shoes last. You don’t want to just throw away a pair of shoes you have had a long standing relationship with. You have already been through too much together.
So if you want your shoes to stick around, you will need to take care of them from the start. These five strategies will enhance the longevity of your shoes and keep you looking good together for years to come.
1. Cleaning Shoes
Try to avoid throwing your shoes in the washer and dryer as this will add to the wear and tear. Washing your shoes by hand will give them the longest life possible. There are several tips and strategies depending upon the material of your shoes.
- Nail polish remover takes almost anything off your shoes including the color so make sure to only use this method on white canvas shoes.
- Patent leather is guaranteed to shine when a little vaseline is rubbed onto scuffs and scrapes.
- As for your standard run of the mill sneaker remove and soak the laces, brush off any excess dirt and then scrub your shoes with warm soapy water. An old toothbrush and baking soda are great tools for cleaning the soles.
Nice Shoes Expert
When packing shoes, it’s important to make sure that they are packed tight. You don’t want to leave any room for movement that could add scrapes and scuffs. It is also a good idea to have the outside of your shoes completely covered so no loose items will nick them.
There are several strategies for accomplishing this. UPack suggests making a “shoe burrito” by wrapping shoes in packing paper until one is completely covered then wrapping another. When going on a short trip, you may want to just use a towel or even a piece of clothing to get the most use of your space. Swifty suggests placing shoes in a disposable shower cap which accomplishes the aforementioned goal as well as keeps dirt from getting on your clothing.
You also want to make sure to stuff your shoes to avoid creasing them, especially with your leather pairs. It can be worth investing in shoe trees to help keep your dress shoes in tip-top shape. One hack when packing is to stuff your socks inside your shoes both to save space and retain their shape.
3. Stretching Shoes
If your foot has grown or you purchase a pair of shoes that are just a wee big snug, try wearing your shoes with thick socks for short periods of time. Sometimes wearing them around the house will be enough to get you the extra wiggle room you need.
If there are still places where the shoe is tight then get out the blow dryer. Temperature plays a key factor in forming shoes to your feet. Extreme temperatures will assist in making the shoes material more pliable. Warm the area that is tight while trying to push against it. This should help to stretch the shoe. Another strategy is to fill one fourth of a ziploc bag with water then place it inside the shoe and place the shoe into the freezer. As the water freezes it should expand and stretch out the shoe.
Krazy Coupon Lady
Before they even get wet you should protect your shoes from the elements with a water repellent. This will help you to avoid any water stains from puddles and rain.
If they do get wet, the dryer is not the best option. Try placing the them out in the sun with paper towels stuck into the shoes. The paper towels will absorb the water from the inside while the sun dries them from the outside. This strategy is not recommended for leather as the sun may cause the leather to crack.
5. Fighting stench
Here are a few tips for controlling your sweaty feet and saving your shoes from stench. The Krazy Coupon Lady suggests inserting a panty liner into the bottom of your shoe. This will absorb the moisture coming off your feet. Baking soda is also very absorbent and will take care of odors as well as moisture. A less drastic solution is to spray dry shampoo into your shoes. It’s intended purpose is to soak up oils without leaving residue behind.
Krazy Coupon Lady
Up until recently, I didn’t take great care of my shoes. All of that changed after a recent dinner with a friend, when she walked in with what looked like a brand new pair of heels. I complimented her and didn’t believe her when she told me they were twelve years old. That’s when I decided to seek out Arturo Azinian of Arturo’s. Azinian has been Los Angeles’ “King of Sling” since 1964 – the last seventeen of which he’s worked alongside his grandson, Ari. These master crafters have rescued the torn, stained, and broken shoes (and purses) of their devoted clients – extending the life of many Manolos and Louboutins. Here, Arturo and Ari share their tips on keeping your favorite shoes pristine, along with a great purse tip!
1.Check on your shoe’s “health.” “Be diligent about checking the bottom of your shoes. People oftentimes forget to do this and will run their shoes into the ground. What could have been minor fixes become major ones. Things you should look out for include a nail peeking out out of the heel of your stiletto, or severely scratched soles. Most dressy heels have thin soles that will wear down easily. The preventative measure here is to add a thin layer of protective rubber. This is called a dancer’s sole, and if you plan on wearing your shoes frequently, this is your best bet. The amount of wear goes up exponentially with a dancer’s sole and when we do this for a customer, we usually don’t see them for months.”
2.Try on shoes for 10 minutes before buying them. “When people go to a store to buy shoes, they usually try them on and do one quick back and forth walk. This is not enough time. I’d recommend spending 5-10 minutes in the shoes. If you get the wrong size, it doesn’t matter how much you stretch or tighten them, they will never fit correctly. It is impossible to stretch even a half size, so if they’re too small, leave them.”
3.Beware of escalators, decks, and grates. “We get so many torn up heel covers. You can replace the leather covers on the heel of course, but it’ll never be exactly the same as the original.”
4.Pets love expensive shoes. “If you have a dog, do not leave your expensive shoes on the floor. There have been shoes that we’ve had to rebuild from scratch because a dog chewed through the entire back heel and stiletto. And for cat owners: Don’t let them sleep in your purse. If they go to the bathroom in it, you won’t ever be able to get the smell out.”
5.Leather and rubber needs to be exercised. “If you haven’t worn a shoe for over a year or longer, the rubber heel tap and leather can dry out. We’ve seen heel taps disintegrate as soon as a customer puts shoes on after a long break and the leather upper can crack just by flexing them. lf you have shoes you love and only wear on rare occasion, you should either condition them ever so often, or wear them around the house so that the rubber and leather have a chance to flex and move.”
6.Storelight-colored patent leathers separately. “Your light colored patent leather shoes and purses should never be stored with any other colored leather or plastics. They will absorb the other color, and it will be impossible to take it out. I would even recommend wrapping them in tissue, especially when you travel and carry multiple shoes in a suitcase. (If there is color transfer, you do have the option to dye the shoe black.)”
7. A trick for one-time wear. “You can dye light to dark, but not dark to light…except for one-time use. If you want to use the shoes for one day (maybe your wedding day or any other one-day event), and never plan on wearing them again, this could be the option for you. Just keep in mind that if you scuff them, the dark color will show underneath.”
And one last thing!
Your denim is like sandpaper to purses. “We get a lot of customers that come in with stained purses. If you have a light colored purse, please don’t let it rub against your jeans. For leather, we can clean it and add a little polish or dye, but it will never look exactly as it once did. For suede and canvas purses, we have to scrub the stain out so the suede can change colors where the stain once was. You must remember that the material of your denim is grooved like sandpaper – so not only does the dye transfer onto your purse, but your denim is literally sanding your purse.”
How Long Do Running Shoes Last?
How to Tell if Running Shoes are Worn Out
Sometimes the eyeball test will tell you all you need to know about the age of your shoes, but other times worn out shoes might not be so obvious. If your shoes aren’t telling you they’re ready to be retired, your body might provide clues.
Here are some signs that your running shoes are ready for a slower life of mowing the lawn:
- Your shoes will feel flat. The bouncy midsole foam in a pair of new shoes will absorb impact associated with running, saving your feet and joints from taking a pounding. As your shoes age, though, the foam loses some of its ability to rebound, like if you put a brick on top of a marshmallow.
- Nagging aches and pains. Hard workouts or increased mileage can make you feel sore the next day, but if little pains persist even after a normal run, it might be time for a refresh.
- Worn soles. The outsoles of your running shoes have tread just like the tires on your car, which helps cushion your landings and grip the pavement. But the ground is abrasive, especially if you primarily run on concrete and asphalt. If your soles sport bald patches and excessive wear, they won’t serve you as well as a new pair.
- Uneven wear. If your worn soles are uneven, this can signal an even greater problem than just needing new shoes. It could mean you need different types of shoes to better support your feet. If that’s the case, take them with you when you go to get fitted for your next pair.
How Do I Know When It Is Time To Replace My Athletic Shoes?
by Ayne Furman, DPM Fellow, AAPSM
When athletic shoes should be replaced depends upon amount of usage, signs of wear and age of the shoe. The four main components of an athletic that can break down or wear out: outer sole, midsole, heel counter and shank or cut out area of the shoe.
The outer sole material is made of a carbon rubber, which is meant to be very abrasion resistant. Some athletic shoes will have a harder and more resilient rubber at the heel of the shoe since this is where most of the wear will occur. Once the outersole has worn through to midsole or there is more than 4mm difference from the other side of the heel the shoe should be replaced. Refer to image A.
The mid-sole is normally composed of a foam material: Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA), Polyurethane (PU) or a blend of both materials. The midsole is intended to be shock absorbing and in some shoes serves to control excessive foot motion. After certain amount of repetitive load is placed on the midsole it will compress not rebound and absorb shock or control the foot as well as it did when new. In some cases, the midsole can deform and compress unevenly which can create an alignment change of the foot. This can lead to over use type injuries.
Midsoles should be considered worn out:
- After 300-500 miles of running or walking, 45-60 hours of basketball, aerobic dance or tennis.
- Shows signs of unevenness when placed on flat surface.
- Display noticeable creasing.
Refer to image B and C.
The heel counter of the shoe helps hold the heel on top of the midsole and prevents excessive heel motion. The heel counter should be considered broken down when it feels flexible when compressed side to side, or appears deviate to one side when viewing from the rear of the shoe. Refer to image D and E.
The shank or mid cut area of the shoe can fatigue with use. This area of the shoe should be inspected periodically.
Even without use shoes can “wear out”. Depending upon the environment the shoes are kept in; the outsole, midsole and some of the upper materials can dry out and not function optimally. Therefore, it is best to replace athletic shoes that are over a year old whether they are worn out or not.
Replacing athletic shoes when necessary maybe costly in the short term, but will prevent injuries and keep you active in “the long run”.
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Buying new sneakers is a lot like changing the oil in your car. You have to pull the trigger depending on either time or mileage, and even though it’s easy to forget, it’s essential for overall function. Whether you’ve been tackling HIIT classes on the regular, pounding pavement, or spending more time at the squat rack, your workout is only as good as the shoes you do it in.
“Having a solid pair of shoes is important because of your foot health,” says Ben Sweeney, coach at Brick New York. “When your shoes wear down, the molding for your foot becomes flatter and flatter. This can cause stress on the foot and ankle leading to injury, and even change your gait—that’s how your foot comes into contact with the ground—over time.”
It’s fair to have a love affair with the lucky sneaks you tackled a half-marathon in last year. But your feet could suffer if you’re a sucker for sneaker symbolism. Put those puppies in a special keepsake box if you must, and ask yourself: Are you overdue for a sneaker swap? Check out these guidelines on the right time to splurge on new kicks.
The Lifespan of an Athletic Shoe
If You’re Running…
Shoe lifespan: 300 to 450 miles, or every six months
How can you tell? This is one sneaker you can put a mileage count on. Still, you know it’s time to replace your kicks when they begin to have less “pop” (or response) upon contact, there are visible signs of wear on the sole, and the upper (the part covering your foot) shows signs of breaking down, says Ted Fitzpatrick, director of product footwear running and training at Reebok.
Factors to take into account: “A heavier runner might break the shoe down faster than a lighter runner,” says Fitzpatrick. “Surface matters, too. Someone who runs on soft surfaces might get more miles than someone who exclusively runs on cement or pavement.”
If You’re Weightlifting…
Shoe lifespan: Roughly 12 months
How can you tell? Since you wear weightlifting shoes dramatically less than other sneakers, they’re going to take a lot more time to wear down. They will also show fewer visible exterior signs of wear. You may not see substantial breakage on the sole of a lifting shoe, but the upper will lose some rigidity. “Listen to their body,” advises Joe Nguyen, senior merchandiser at Asics. “If the cushioning is off or you feel like it’s not giving you the same experience, then it’s time to switch.”
Factors to take into account: “They may not break down all that fast,” says Sweeney, “but once they start to really smell, it’s time to ditch them.”
If You’re Training…
Shoe lifespan: Roughly 6 months
How can you tell? Like running shoes, training shoes will shoe signs of wear on the sole and upper. Training (like banging out box jumps and tackling lunges) involves a lot of lateral movement, so look specifically at the lining of the sneaker for fraying and ripping. If you’re seeing the inner materials, it’s time to toss ’em.
Factors to take into account: “If you work out all the time, it’s smart to have a couple pairs you alternate between,” says Sweeney. “If you don’t, you could bust through a pair of training sneakers much sooner.”
Related Story Emily Abbate Emily Abbate is a freelance writer, certified fitness trainer, and host of the podcast Hurdle.
Each issue of Lapham’s Quarterly, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, addresses a theme—States of War, States of Mind, Food, Youth, Animals—by drawing on primary sources throughout history, finding the rhymes and dissonances in how these topics have played out and been perceived over the centuries. In this new series, we open up the sleuthing beyond our staff and four annual themes by letting historians and writers share what they have come across in their recent visits to the archives.
This week’s selection comes from Nicholas Smith, author of Kicks: The Great American Story of Sneakers, out now from the Crown Publishing Group.
In 1964 a University of Oregon sprinter named David Blunt ran the sixty-yard dash in the Portland Indoor Meet. The most notable thing about this performance wasn’t the college student’s time of 6.1 seconds but the shoes that he wore, a pair of track spikes handmade for him by his coach Bill Bowerman.
Every track coach wants the best from their athletes, but Coach Bowerman went the extra mile. He would experiment in his backyard by mixing different combinations of rubber to create a better running surface, fashion featherweight running outfits, or concoct his own (poor tasting) sports drink of tea, lemonade, and salt in an effort to shave every possible second off his racer’s times. Yet his most indelible contribution to the sport revolved around his experiments with making custom running shoes for his athletes.
When Bowerman began to turn his mind toward shoemaking in the mid-1950s, there weren’t many options for quality running shoes; the best track spikes of the day were German engineered and durable, yet expensive. None of the shoe companies he wrote to seemed to take his shoe suggestions seriously. The coach surmised that shoes tailored to each individual athlete would prevent injury and save weight, thereby producing faster times. Using his runners as guinea pigs, Bowerman would experiment with different materials and construction methods while taking copious feedback from his athletes, especially if a shoe fell apart mid-race.
When one of Bowerman’s former runners, Phil Knight, returned from an overseas trip with a business opportunity, he remembered his old coach’s fascination with running shoes. The pair founded a company that began as an importer for the Japanese athletic shoemaker Onitsuka Tiger. When Knight and Bowerman’s little import company started growing and producing its own shoes, it renamed itself Nike and the shoe, as it were, fit.
Want to read more? Here are some past posts from this series:
• Victoria Johnson, author of American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic
• Emily Ogden, author of Credulity: A Cultural History of U.S. Mesmerism
Anna Clark, author of The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy
• Jeff Biggers, author of Resistance: Reclaiming an American Tradition
• Randi Hutter Epstein, author of Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything
• Christopher Bonanos, author of Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous
• Anna-Lisa Cox, author of The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America’s Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality
• Philip Dray, author of The Fair Chase: The Epic Story of Hunting in America
• Elaine Weiss, author of The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote
• Linda Gordon, author of The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition
• Daegan Miller, author of This Radical Land: A Natural History of American Dissent
• Elizabeth Catte, author of What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia
• Ben Austen, author of High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing
Anatomy of a Running Shoe
by Super Dave, Industry Expert
A running shoe is made up of three parts: the upper, the midsole and the outsole.
1. Upper: Holds the foot in place, protects the foot from rocks and dirt, has synthetic leather for durability, mesh for breathability and reflective material for safety.
2. Midsole: The most important part of shoe. There are three materials that make up the midsole:
EVA: Lightweight, foam-based cushioning.
Dual-Density EVA: When you double the density of something it gets stronger, firmer and heavier (twice the mass in the same amount of space). The dual-density EVA is called a “medial post”. ‘Medial’ because it is on the inside of the shoe and ‘post’ because it has a beginning and an end. The length of the post determines the amount of control.
Polyurethane: Very durable cushioning. More durable/stable than EVA and weighs more than EVA.
*New forms of EVA or combinations of EVA and rubber midsoles are being developed at increasingly faster rates. These new foams are lighter and provide you with more durability. Look for brand name foams like Mogo, Solyte, Acteeva and others.
3) Outsole: Has tread for traction, flex grooves for flexibility and protects from dirt/rocks. The outsole is made of two materials:
Carbon Rubber: The most durable (same material as tires).
Blown Rubber: Lighter, more flexible and more cushioned, but not as durable.
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Get in Shape with Shoe Shape
Imagine a line running along the center of each of your feet from heel to toe. Looking down at your feet, these lines would probably be gentle arcs similar to parentheses¿ (). This is because feet are not perfectly straight like you might think, but have some degree of curve to them. Realizing this, shoe manufacturers make shoe models in shapes from almost completely straight to curved and points in between.
Shoe shape ties in with the shoe category: the straighter a shoe is the more stable it is. The shoe acts like a “steering wheel”, guiding your foot in the direction of the curve of the shoe. Here’s how it works:
1. Straight: Shape found in motion control shoes built for overpronators.
2. Semi-Curved: Shape found in stability shoes and most neutral shoes.
3. Curved: Shape found in lightweight neutral shoes for faster runners.
As you can see, the shape of the shoe actually helps it do what it does! Plus, these shapes generally match the shape of the feet in each of these shoe categories. And the fit will always be better when the shape of the shoe matches the shape of your foot.
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10 Ways to Make Your Shoes Last Longer
Wise Bread Picks
We spend a lot of our lives in shoes — and about $25 thousand in a lifetime — so it’s in the best interest of our bank accounts to properly care for them. (See also: 8 Ways to Help Your Clothes Last Longer)
With that in mind, take a look at these 10 ways to make your shoes last longer and your clothing budget go farther.
1. Invest in Quality From the Get-go
Like anything else you purchase, focusing on quality when you’re buying a new pair of shoes will pay off in the long run. Well-constructed shoes can handle much more wear and tear than a cheap pair, and you won’t have to keep replacing them so often. The materials used matter, too. Choose shoes made of natural materials like leather or suede.
2. Protect the Soles
The soles of your shoes are what take the brunt of the daily beating, so it’s important to protect them to ensure that your shoes last as long as possible. You can find protectors for all kinds of shoes online, like Sole Protectors for sneakers and KiiX for high heels.
3. Don’t Use the Washing Machine
For canvas shoes especially, it’s easy to toss them in the washer and dryer for a quick cleaning, but that will just wear them out faster. Scrub the shoes by hand instead, and do it immediately so the dirt doesn’t start to accumulate to a point of no return.
4. Stuff With Newspaper
There are several benefits to stuffing your shoes with newspaper, like alleviating odor, drying them out if they get wet, preventing dry rot, and preserving their shape.
5. Spray With a Water Repellent
“Always, always, always spray your shoes with water repellent,” pleads Sandra M. Einstein, an organizing and coaching consultant. Waterproofing your shoes will protect them from the elements, which is especially important when the winter weather rolls in. In addition, you also want to wash off salt that may get on your shoes to avoid stains.
6. Repair Before You Replace
Think you’ve broken your shoes? You may just need a restoration. “Is the leather looking dull and you can’t find shoe polish in that color?” asks freelance writer and author Carol Gee. “Chances are your local shoe repair person does. I once scraped the toe of my favorite grape-colored pumps while walking up some concrete steps. I took them to shoe repair guy who matched the color, replaced the taps on the heels, and buffed them to look like brand-new.”
7. Store in a Safe Place
Damage to your shoes isn’t always done while they’re on your feet. Where you’re storing them after you take them off can contribute to their deterioration, so it’s important to find just the right spot. Women’s Health magazine says that keeping your shoes in the wrong places could cause fading, scratching, and other damage. Keep your shoes away from sunlight, and don’t just throw them in the closet. “Neatly line them up in pairs on your closet’s floor or on a shelf with ample breathing room between pairs,” the mag advises.
8. Use a Shoehorn
Your foot isn’t likely to slide effortlessly into a shoe with laces. You usually have to do a little work to get them on, which often results in crunching the heel collar with the bottom of your foot while you work your fingers in. You can avoid this entirely and keep the heel collars in good condition by always using a shoehorn, says Joe Rocco, owner of Jim’s Shoe Repair in New York City.
9. Buff and Shine Your Dress Shoes
Keep your dress shoes sparkling by spot cleaning them after every wear. After they’re clean, apply polish to any scuffs or marks that may have occurred. Once the polish is dry, buff them with a rag or an old T-shirt and. If you’re consistent in this practice, your shoes could last decades.
10. Apply a Moisturizer
Seriously — moisturizing your shoes is totally a thing. It mostly applies to leather shoes, and it helps prevent potential cracking due to damage from the elements. Just like you bought quality shoes, however, you want to get a quality shoe moisturizer. “A quality shoe cream will absorb into the leather, nourish your shoes, and keep them fresh,” says Andrea Mitchell, editor of the blog Fox in Flats. “Avoid shoe creams that sit on top of the leather — they provide a temporary solution only, and will rub off on the hem of your pants. Not cool.”
Do you have any tips on how to make shoes last longer? Please share in comments!
Who doesn’t love splashing out on new shoes? But if you’re not careful, the unpredictable British weather and the general daily grind can take the shine of your fabulous footwear. If you love your shoes, you want to make them last, so here’s how to keep them looking lovely for longer:
We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
1. Protect your suede
Before wearing any suede shoes, protect them with a suede protector. We rate this one by Liquiproof.
And invest in a suede brush (like this one from Kiwi) so you can clean any mud or marks from the material. Avoid wearing your favourite suede shoes if it’s raining, though!
2. Use a decent polish
Keep your shoes looking as good as new by polishing them often. Go for a neutral polish so that it can be used on all your shoes, no matter what their colour, without tainting them.
Our favourite is this one by Timpson.
3. Lose the sponge
Our team of experts say that sponges aren’t the best way to clean shoes as you often don’t know what they’re made of. Instead, opt for a good-quality brush. Having a variety of brushes (rough and soft) will help you care for lots of different shoes.
4. Dry out wet shoes
But never on the radiator! Do it as soon as possible by stuffing with newspaper or using a shoe horse, and then store them like this to help keep their shape. You should never keep leather near direct heat or else they can dry and crack. If you have any really precious shoes, keep them in their box or in a shoe bag so they don’t discolour or get damaged.
5. Add a rubber sole
Make your shoes last longer by adding a rubber sole to the leather sole of your shoes. This will give you a longer wear and more grip: especially in winter.
6. Make friends with the cobbler
Want to get damage repaired as quickly as possible? Take them to your local cobbler. They’ll be able to help you make shoes last longer and their adjustments will cost much less than a new pair.
Shoe cleaning essentials
Kiwi Suede and Nubuck Brush Kiwi amazon.co.uk £5.95 Kiwi Rain & Stain Protector 200ml Kiwi sainsburys.co.uk £3.70 Timpson Neutral Shoe Polish Timpson timpson.co.uk £1.95 Kiwi Sports Trainer Whitener Kiwi amazon.co.uk £3.89 Kiwi Suede & Nubuck Foam Cleaner 200ml Kiwi morrisons.com £3.50 Liquiproof Premium Protector Spray Liquiproof amazon.co.uk £9.99
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