The Staff
of Valet.
Foot Work
I just bought my first nice pair of lace-ups and I'm concerned about making them last in this economy. How should I be caring for them?
- Matt, Chicago

We asked Derrick Miller, creative director for Barker Black—the 128-year-old British brand specializing in the top-notch handmade shoes for which the English are known—for his top three tips.

  • Derrick Miller, like a handful of popular menswear designers, used to work at Ralph Lauren.

Archdale wing tip, $850, at Barker Black, New York and Neiman Marcus

Dry 'em Out

Miller recommends shelving shoes for at least 24 hours after wearing. "Shoes need to dry out, but never put your shoes on, under or anywhere near a radiator with the intention of drying them out quickly, it will dry out the leather and basically melt the shoe from the inside out."

Use Shoe Trees

Shoe trees will extend the life of your shoes, especially if you're sporting shoes sockless. But they don't have to be fancy. "For me, it is not the material that makes a good shoe tree but the shape. It needs to retain the shoe's original shape so it should come as close as possible to the shape of that last the shoe was made on. At Barker Black we have trees that are made to fit a particular shoe exactly."

Buff Regularly

Miller's ritual for shining his shoes? Sunday in front of the TV. "I lay a coat of polish on each shoe letting it sit until I am done with all of them, before buffing them all off with a brush. Shoes that are in really tough shape get an extra coat of polish and are left overnight and buffed off in the morning."


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