Nicolas Lazaro of The Bengal Stripe: Caring for Footwear in a Recession


Nicolas Lazaro—who co-founded the Bengal Stripe in 2010—may be just months out of university, but his aesthetic is hardly collegiate. Here, he lends his clean, sophisticated taste to

Lately, I've seen a lot of advice about how to properly care for shoes—which, as Lawrence Schlossman of Sartorially Inclined recently wrote in his post about grooming, can be somewhat elitist. Not everyone can afford the most luxurious shoe care kits, and the truth is that you don't really need them, so I've rounded up some ways to get the job done on the cheap.

Canvas Sneakers
Technically, you're supposed to rotate your pairs so you don't wear the same ones two days in a row, but some weeks go by where a single pair is all I want to wear. Summertime heat calls for wearing your shoes sockless, and this can cause some nasty side effects including a build-up of odor and gunk. For mild cases, an overnight trip to the freezer can freshen things up, but I find it's best to take preemptive action by using a foot powder. I coat my feet and the inside of my shoes with Gold Bond Triple Action, which also reduces the friction between my skin and the shoes and helps stop blisters from forming.

Leather Shoes
The very first step you should take is investing in shoe bags, a shoehorn, and proper shoetrees—for the latter, I prefer natural cedar ones from the likes of Woodlore, which quickly soak up moisture and odor while maintaining the shape. If your shoes ever get wet during wear, it's best to dry them out as quick as possible, stuffing them with newspaper overnight before putting shoetrees back in them. For conditioning leather, many dress-shoe aficionados swear by Saphir Médaille d'Or and other fancy products, but I've found that a dose of Venetian Shoe Cream after each wear is a cheaper and perfectly suitable alternative. In addition to shoe cream, wax shoe polish in the color of your shoes may be required about once a month for covering up scuffs, evening out the patina, and keeping shoes shining and hardwearing. You will also need a couple of shoe brushes for cleaning your shoes and bringing out the natural oils in leather before polishing. Shoes that are too dirty to be properly cleaned with just brushes can be treated using saddle soap. For applying any sort of products to shoes, all you really need is a rag—a great use for old T-shirts. Finally, if you're looking for step-by-step tutorials, Allen Edmonds' YouTube channel has high-definition videos for various types of leather.

By Nicolas Lazaro

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