It’s All About Shoe Patina & Polishing!
I enjoy interviews with gifted people so much. While social media is often a facade and everything is all fun and smiles on the altar of success, you sometimes stumble upon genuine heroes of the modern age. People that work tirelessly behind the scenes and can manage a loving family, hobbies and work. One of these people is my good friend Mbshoedoc from the US who is here today to talk a little about his passion for Shoe Patina and Restoration.
His reputation is steadily growing and the results of his restorations are remarkable. He was kind enough to give me an interview which I can present to you today!
Let’s get this started!
1. Welcome Mike! I am so happy to have you here. Please tell us a bit about yourself!
A little about myself that some may not know is that I am a full time Optometrist in the “real world” so the Instagram name ShoeDoc has a bit of a double meaning…aren’t I the clever one. I am married with 3 kids, two boys and a girl 9,8 and 3. A fun fact is that I am also a Sax player! I haven’t played as much as I used to before the kids but I still do a little music at church from time to time.
2. How where you introduced in the quality shoe world? What fascinates you about it?
My introduction into the quality shoe world was ironically because of some of my patients that came in. Bankers and Lawyers from uptown Charlotte often came in looking really nice. Nice to the point that I was feeling rather self conscious about my own attire. I was wearing some hideous square toe Frankenstein looking Kenneth Cole shoes at the time. Well I started asking patients about their shoes and the name Allen Edmonds came up more than once.
Naturally I started looking into those and literally just googled for top quality dress shoes for men and best bang for buck shoes, and how to identify quality men’s shoes among others. I started looking on sites like Styleforum and Dappered for style tips and advice.
3. I find fascinating how you coined the nickname Mbshoedoc.
MB is just my initials. Of course I was trying to be clever with the Shoe Doc part not only because I am Dr. B during the week but also enjoy “doctoring up” shoes.
4. Nice! You have a special relationship with shoe restoration, bringing them back from the dead! How did that start?
Well once I started looking into the shoes like Allen Edmonds I was a bit dismayed to find that they were $400. Remember I wore some $40 Kenneth Cole monstrosities at the time. I always enjoy looking for deals on eBay so I started to search on there for some AE shoes. I really wanted to find out if I could tell a difference in the quality. Would these higher end brands look and feel better? However I just couldn’t go full price.
So I purchased my first pair of Allen Edmonds Strands for about $80 on eBay. I reasoned if I’m going to get these nicer shoes I should really learn how to take care of them. I researched shoe care for weeks and weeks reading articles and watching videos. This is probably about 4-5 years ago now. After cleaning up that first pair of Strands I was amazed at how much better they could look after some work. They looked like a brand new pair. I immediately started looking on eBay for more pairs in my size. I eventually started a nice little collection and began fixing them all up!
5. A common passion we share is shoe patina and giving them a new lease of life! What attracted you to this? Any inspiration?
I started with cream and polish type revivals at first but then one day I stumbled across a thread on Styleforum discussing patina. Ron Rider wrote most of it back in 2007 or so. Well when I saw the before and after shots it literally blew my mind! It opened up an entire world of possibilities for me. So Ron was probably my original inspiration and when I learned more about how it was done I couldn’t wait to try. Which means I went back to eBay for some experimental pairs. I started by doing some patinas on my own personal pairs and eventually grew into doing work for others.
6. And look at you now! You actually won a restoration challenge on the popular Styleforum. Take us through the story.
While browsing Styleforum I ran across the revival challenge in early 2018. The idea was you could only spend $15 on a pair and had to fix them up. I spent $8 on those rough looking To boot New York, fixed them up and won the challenge. Styleforum was posting my before and after photos on Instagram and I think it was their top post for the year.
Someone messaged me and said “hey your photo is blowing up on Instagram!”. Well I had never even been on Instagram before so I created an account just to follow that post. I decided to post a few other pairs I had worked on and it wasn’t long before people started to ask me to work on their pairs. It was the first time I had ever worked on a pair that didn’t belong to me and I was super nervous! Now I have a steady flow of work with a lot of repeat clients. So that’s how it all began.
7. This would not be a proper interview if I did not ask you about shoe shine! You make some sparkling toes!
Haha yes I do like to keep my toes rather shiny. That also is something that developed a lot over the past four years or so. It began with my own pairs and then for a while I was purchasing and reselling pairs after fixing them up. So after shining literally hundreds and hundreds of shoes I naturally got a little better at it.
Seeing some of the work of true shine masters on Instagram and from shine competitions (I previously never knew there was such a thing) I picked up a few more tips and tricks that I didn’t know before and using higher quality polishes made a difference too.
8. Polishing is quite a complex art. do you have a routine or steps?
I do have some steps and a routine to some degree but every pair is slightly different. I always start by removing the laces, placing shoe trees in and giving the shoes a good brushing. Then I usually will use some Saphir Renovateur or Zoes Venetian shoe cream over the entire shoe to hydrate the leather and it cleans it some too. Afterwards I will use cream polish (typically Saphir) over the entire shoe and this usually will give a decent soft shine after brushing.
The final step is the wax polish. For this I like to build a solid base of wax just on the toes and heels using either Pure Polish High Shine paste or Saphir Mirror Gloss both in neutral. I buff on the wax with a single drop of water using circular motions. For me a plain old cut up cotton t-shirt is the best polishing cloth for this. I often get the question how many coats to use and I don’t have an answer. Firstly I don’t count and secondly it is different for every pair. I just keep adding layers until it starts to shine up well and the pores in the leather start to fill up.
Then I usually switch to Saphir Pate de Luxe in a color to add some burnishing to the toes and heel. Usually colors such as dark brown or black. Same thing here buffing with a drop of water. The final step is a single drop of water, no wax and a high speed buff with front to back motions. This is the magic ingredient that I had been missing for years and has really elevated my shines to the next level. I will use a t-shirt for this but recently tried the high shine chamois from The Hanger Project and really like it for the last step.
9. Sounds so complex and time consuming. Unfortunately not everyone has hours to spend doing a patina or achieving a mirror shine. How should someone take care of their shoes and ensure their longevity?
You are right about that one. It does indeed take many hours for a patina and an additional hour sometimes for a mirror shine. I think you can do 90% of what’s needed in 20-30 minutes though. A solid brushing is always the place to start. I like the conditioning lotions to keep the leather from drying out and I feel it helps with the creasing on the vamp. Just use a bit of cream polish over the entire shoe and then brush again since it really makes a shoe look good. Just a little wax on the toe and heel and you already look better than 90% of the people out there. You can always do it over multiple nights too. Do that one night then next night go another 20 minutes just on the mirror shine and now your better than 98% of the people out there.
Now for a DIY (Do It Yourself) patina. That one is going to require a true passion as it needs quite a bit more time, practice and materials to do. But this one is completely optional and is not really a way to increase a shoe’s longevity. It’s only necessary when a shoe is completely wrecked…mostly it’s just for aesthetic reasons.
10. You are also famous for using colours in various ways. By replacing laces or using colorful socks. Is there a story behind this?
There isn’t really much of a story here. I just like bold colors in accessories like socks and the fun laces. It’s something that my patients seem to really enjoy and get a kick out of too. I have a number of them that will come in and say “Let’s see what kind of fun socks and shoes Dr. B has on today!”.
I will also say that as I was growing my Instagram page I started a collaboration with Fintoco. They started to supply me with some of their fun and colorful laces to use on my restorations. So I typically will include a set on my clients pairs when I send them back and of course I use some on my personal pairs as well. It’s just a fun and unique touch I feel. The client can experiment and see how they feel about the bold laces without having to spend any extra money to do so and Fintoco gets some advertising out of it. It’s a solid win-win scenario. But truth be told even before that collaboration I was still rocking some fun laces. In fact I just swapped in some fun laces for for tomorrow’s outfit 🙂
11. With a job, kids and multiple shoe interests, how do you keep up and retain a balance in your life? I know many dads would look for inspiration!
Truthfully this is a tough one and I’m not entirely convinced I have done this one the best way possible. I usually don’t work on the shoes until the kids are in bed but they still will catch me responding to question or posting something on Instagram or working on a pair on a Saturday afternoon for a moment. My wife is usually happy to watch some TV shows in the evening while I do some shoe work. Some shows I will join her to watch but when it comes to things like House Wives of wherever…I’m gone.
For a while I posted on Instagram multiple times a day. I would do a morning post with a flat lay and an evening post with a pair of shoes. Or maybe a pair I wore in the morning and a restoration pair in the evening. Practically 7 days a week. That really was a little too much. I have since cut back to posting only once daily and only Monday-Friday while taking the weekends off.
That has been a big help but it still does take up a decent amount of time. Reducing the number of people I follow and the pages I comment on also helped. I try to be supportive of others pages but I really just can’t do it sometimes. So this is still a work in progress for me and I definitely think I need to do better yet.
12. You have a growing strong fan base on Instagram. How does this affect your life? Is it stressful? Exciting?
Instagram is both stressful and exciting. Like I said earlier it got to be a bit out of hand for a while. Posting every day multiple times just wasn’t sustainable. Following so many pages and trying to support all of them was also impossible. Toning it down a bit had thankfully no negative effect on the growth and it’s definitely more enjoyable and healthier for me.
The growth has certainly been exciting. And it’s not just about getting likes on a post. That is of course nice and it does indeed make you feel good. However what I love the most is meeting different people and collaborations with different brands and companies that I never knew about before and wouldn’t meet otherwise. It opened a lot of doors to different possibilities and certainly helped grow my patina and restoration hobby/business.
13. What is the next step for the doc? With long queues of shoes for restoration and patinas, do you have any plan going forward?
What’s next is still in the air. I do have a steady influx of patina work which is nice and is almost on maximum capacity for me (sometimes even gone over capacity). I really need to get to finishing my website! The plan is to use it to showcase some of my work like on Instagram but to have something not directly tied to Instagram.
If my account got locked or hacked or something like that I would be done for. I really need something that is truly mine. My intentions is also to do a blog on there as well and do more shoe reviews. I can do the unboxings on Instagram but it’s not really the platform for a full written review. Finally I would like to be able to sell some products there too. Maybe start with some shoe care products like polish, shoe trees, some fun laces. Maybe some socks and eventually a shoe line if I’m really feeling adventurous. We shall see…stay tuned!
14. We talked about value a lot. I would like you to pick one pair of shoes and socks for value/quality!
For value pair of shoes I think I would have to go with Meermin. I really do love their shoes. They have some fantastic styles and colors and I just don’t think you can beat their prices. Socks are truthfully a tougher call. I think Boardroom Socks are great value with Merino Wool OTC pairs coming in at $15. That’s hard to beat if you prefer the wool socks and more classic styling. However as you know I do like some bolder patterned socks and for just a few dollars more I really love some of Viccel’s styles but they won’t be wool at that price.
15. Mike, classic menswear has evolved a lot over the last 2 decades. What’s your advice towards the younger generation?
My advice for the younger generation is to learn to take care of your shoes!! I still see so many young guys wearing nice clothes, well styled and often good quality shoes but they are wrecked. Like I saw a guy wearing Allen Edmonds Park Avenue, a classic black cap toe business shoe but they looked grey because the leather was so dry, scuffed and wrinkled. Like they literally took them straight out of the box, put them on and just wore them like that for a year. Never touched by a brush, a shoe tree, or any creams or polish. To me at that point the entire look is ruined. So that’s my advice. Buy quality but for goodness sake take care of your investment!
Although if everyone starts taking great care of their shoes the ShoeDoc will be out of business! I may need to rethink my answer here hehe!
16. That was super educational. Thank you so much Mike. Got any last words?
That should be all! I really appreciate it and am honored that you would be interested in interviewing me. I hope my answers were informative and at least a little entertaining. See ya on the IG Kostas!
I Love Meeting Talented People
Well this concludes our interview with Mbshoedoc! It was an educational article about shoe patina, restoring old shoes and polishing tips. You also get an insight how it is to be more famous on Instagram and how it can affect your daily life. Try to strike a good balance between your hobbies and remember that family comes first.
Mike is one of the best people I met on the platform however and a testament that some things that shine truly are gold. Give him a follow, he deserves it!
Of course for previous interviews please check out inspiring Emil, talented Nataliia and gentleman Philippe! In the meantime, remember to subscribe for more weekly content. Next week we are back with a bang with more shoe reviews! I am also working tirelessly behind the scenes to review my first exotic leather shoe!
Thank you for reading,