Problems w/ Allen Edmonds 'Webgem'/ need advice on shoe polish color...

Nathan Detroit

Senior Member
628
Comrades,

Recently I bought a pair of AE Dundees - one of their “Webgems”, the shoes are made of cordovan leather, dyed to “Cappuccino,” a light brown they don’t offer in their standard, off-the-rack shoes. Judge for yourself: http://heirandloom.com/allen-edmonds-cappuccino-cordovans/. Well, what color to use to polish them? AE doesn’t offer a cappuccino cordovan polish, instead said to use “AE Cordovan Care Cream in Brown”: http://answers.allenedmonds.com/answers/7512-en_us/product/SF3671/special-edition-webgem-cappuccino-cordovan-dundee-questions-answers/questions.htm.

Alas, this darkened the shoe, really diminishing the appeal of the design, which was all about the color, esp. in re contrast w/ the color of the double oak soles… Time to polish the shoes again, but I don’t want to use the same cream, making them even darker… any suggestions for a polish for cordovan that is light brown or “English tan”? Or other ideas? Thanks in advance…
 

maximar

Super Member
1,331
United States
CA
OC
For my light colored shoes, I just use neutral cream. It will darken the shoe a bit but not as much as a colored one. Brush and buff is all you need really. Waxing and cream would be just about 4 times a year for me on shells.

Have you tried Alden's leather defender? They work wonders.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
29,388
Harmony, FL
United States
Florida
Harmony
Apply neutral toned Venetian Cream to your AE Dundees twice per year and buff like crazy before and after each wearing. You will preserve the cappuccino color that you "oh-so-love" and your Chukkas will radiate light like a pair of second suns! ;)
 

Andy

Site Creator/ Administrator
Staff member
10,868
United States
California
Palm Desert
Have you reviewed the Perfect Shoeshine article linked from the Home Page?

http://www.askandyaboutclothes.com/Clothes Articles/perfect_shoeshine.htm

CARE INSTRUCTIONS FOR SPECIAL SHOES:

Cordovan shoes (real shell cordovan, made from horse hide, not just shoes that are burgundy color) need some special care.

Neutral cream or paste polish tends to leave a white film on Cordovan leather. Most cordovan shoe makers recommend using cordovan color paste wax polish, and not shoe cream. Also beware that the shell cordovan creases are usually lighter, not darker, in color.
Cordovan leather is vegetable tanned instead of the modern method of "chrome" tanning. Since cordovan leather already contains a large amount of oil/wax, the polishing requirements are different from calfskin.Use a damp soft cloth for cleaning shell cordovan shoes. The most common mistake in shining cordovan shoes is using too much polish.

The excess polish creates a layer of build-up, which has three negative effects:

1) it covers the natural beauty of the leather,

2) it creates a grainy texture in the creases of the shoes,

3) and the build-up of polish scuffs easily and attracts dust.

To avoid these effects, use only the thinnest film of polish when polishing your cordovan shoes. Just a very small amount, spread very thin over the shoe, is all that is needed to restore the color and luster.

You should not have to polish your cordovan shoes frequently, and often all that is needed is to brush and cloth them in order to remove scuffs and restore the shine.
After the polish is applied, let it dry, then brush it off with a horsehair brush. Next, wipe the final film of polish away with a soft buffing cloth.

Here are the "don'ts" of shell cordovan care:

1. Do not use "neutral" polish
2. Do not clean cordovan shoes using saddle soap
3. Do not attempt to clean cordovan shoes using petroleum distillates or cleaning fluids
4. Do not use any spray shines or aerosol type waterproofs
5. Do not attempt to dry wet shell cordovan shoes with heat or a heater. Wipe them dry, and allow them to dry naturally
6. Do not attempt to polish shell cordovan shoes while wet


Contact with water can sometimes cause cordovan leather to form small raised areas called "welts" (tiny bumps). This is normal, and the welts will recede once the shoes are allowed to dry.

Wipe the shoes dry as soon as convenient, and allow them to dry naturally.
Spewing, a natural milky residue of wax will often form on new shell cordovan shoes. This is a normal residue from the tanning of the leather.

Wipe it off with a soft cloth or brushing. To remove the wax in difficult areas, such as between stitches, use a toothbrush.
 

phyrpowr

Honors Member
3,161
United States
North Carolina
Charlotte
Either cream or polish in a lighter color should do the job. That's what I've used on shell and calf: it doesn't seem to change the color at all, as darker ones can
 

Nathan Detroit

Senior Member
628
Thanks to all - I took the shoes to a good cobbler, who did his best to fix them - & told me, like you, that I should only use neutral cream. Basically, in a shoe of the sort I bought, the color of the cream is absorbed into the leather and the darkening can never be completely undone... Perhaps I should have known that before I put on the dark cream, but then I am not a shoe expert, and for sure it seems like Allen Edmonds should be able to give advice on the care of its own shoes that doesn't wreck them.
 

Trad-ish

Senior Member
732
United States
Louisiana
Shreveport
Thanks to all - I took the shoes to a good cobbler, who did his best to fix them - & told me, like you, that I should only use neutral cream. Basically, in a shoe of the sort I bought, the color of the cream is absorbed into the leather and the darkening can never be completely undone... Perhaps I should have known that before I put on the dark cream, but then I am not a shoe expert, and for sure it seems like Allen Edmonds should be able to give advice on the care of its own shoes that doesn't wreck them.
I'd echo Nathan Detroit's advice to call Allen Edmonds. I called and spoke with a very nice older lady at their Customer Service number some months back while looking for a particular color polish. She asked what style and color shoes I had and she was able to give the polish recommendation. Barring that, you could just use Neutral polish.

eta: oops, didn't see these were actual Cordovan. Disregard my note to use Neutral.
 
Last edited:

Nathan Detroit

Senior Member
628
Thanks, Andy. What do you say to the Venetian cream that Eagle2250 recommended? You are both rather authoritative on this forum, so I'm wondering if what you said can be reconciled to his response... I do have some, have used it in very small amounts - am not sure about distinctions between waxes, creams, polishes, etc.

Have you reviewed the Perfect Shoeshine article linked from the Home Page?

http://www.askandyaboutclothes.com/Clothes Articles/perfect_shoeshine.htm

CARE INSTRUCTIONS FOR SPECIAL SHOES:

Cordovan shoes (real shell cordovan, made from horse hide, not just shoes that are burgundy color) need some special care.

Neutral cream or paste polish tends to leave a white film on Cordovan leather. Most cordovan shoe makers recommend using cordovan color paste wax polish, and not shoe cream. Also beware that the shell cordovan creases are usually lighter, not darker, in color.
Cordovan leather is vegetable tanned instead of the modern method of "chrome" tanning. Since cordovan leather already contains a large amount of oil/wax, the polishing requirements are different from calfskin.Use a damp soft cloth for cleaning shell cordovan shoes. The most common mistake in shining cordovan shoes is using too much polish.

The excess polish creates a layer of build-up, which has three negative effects:

1) it covers the natural beauty of the leather,

2) it creates a grainy texture in the creases of the shoes,

3) and the build-up of polish scuffs easily and attracts dust.

To avoid these effects, use only the thinnest film of polish when polishing your cordovan shoes. Just a very small amount, spread very thin over the shoe, is all that is needed to restore the color and luster.

You should not have to polish your cordovan shoes frequently, and often all that is needed is to brush and cloth them in order to remove scuffs and restore the shine.
After the polish is applied, let it dry, then brush it off with a horsehair brush. Next, wipe the final film of polish away with a soft buffing cloth.

Here are the "don'ts" of shell cordovan care:

1. Do not use "neutral" polish
2. Do not clean cordovan shoes using saddle soap
3. Do not attempt to clean cordovan shoes using petroleum distillates or cleaning fluids
4. Do not use any spray shines or aerosol type waterproofs
5. Do not attempt to dry wet shell cordovan shoes with heat or a heater. Wipe them dry, and allow them to dry naturally
6. Do not attempt to polish shell cordovan shoes while wet


Contact with water can sometimes cause cordovan leather to form small raised areas called "welts" (tiny bumps). This is normal, and the welts will recede once the shoes are allowed to dry.

Wipe the shoes dry as soon as convenient, and allow them to dry naturally.
Spewing, a natural milky residue of wax will often form on new shell cordovan shoes. This is a normal residue from the tanning of the leather.

Wipe it off with a soft cloth or brushing. To remove the wax in difficult areas, such as between stitches, use a toothbrush.