Save Your Soles: Expert Shoe Tips From LA’s Top Cobbler

The heart and soul of a woman’s closet, shoes lay the fashionably, functional foundation of our outfits while asking little in return. Thus we propose: before walking a mile in them, or even a few feet, show your soles a little love. Today, we talk with one of LA’s top cobblers, shoe whisperer Sam (Smbat Bedrossian) of Fast & Best Shoe Repair, about the best methods for preserving your precious pairs.

The first thing to do after you’ve bought a pair of expensive shoes… “Buy shoe trees for the shoes (unless you already have a pair at home). Shoe trees help keep the shoes in their original shape and they also absorb the moisture from the shoes. Another helpful thing to do would be to have your cobbler add rubber soles and spray the shoes with water and stain protection. The rubber soles give your shoes a longer life and they also add cushion to your feet.”

The best way to break in a new pair… “Wear them around the house. Don’t wear them outside right away because you will scratch the bottoms, which will make it hard to return them if they are too tight. Although stretching helps, it will only give you about a half a size more so try not to buy shoes that are too small just because they look nice.”

Common shoe mistakes people make… “The most common mistake people make is wearing their shoes until they have completely damaged the soles. To prevent that from happening, you should have the bottoms protected with rubber soles before wearing them. When you see them wearing again, bring them in before they are completely destroyed.”

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The best way to protect your shoes in the snow and rain… “During rainy or snowy conditions you should avoid wearing your favorite shoes. If you are going out, try not to wear any suede shoes unless they have been treated. Leather shoes are preferable for rainy days because leather does a better job at repelling water.”

How to restore shoes with weather-related damage… “It all depends on how bad the damage is. For example, dark leather shoes are much easier to bring back to life than light ones. Suede is a different story. It takes significant effort to fix damaged suede. Just remember that having your shoes protected beforehand will be really helpful. Furthermore, time also matters. Try getting your damaged shoes to the cobbler as soon as possible.”

The best method for at-home shoe cleaning… “I have seen too many people damage their shoes by trying to wash them at home. The best advice I could give is to take them to a professional. The only time that you should try cleaning them yourself is if the dirt on the shoes is just mud or sand. Try cleaning leather shoes with a leather cleaning and conditioning cream that you can purchase from almost any market. As for the suede shoes, you can buy a special suede brush from most shoe stores or cobblers. And never put any shoes in the washer even if they are just sneakers!”

Elena Braghieri

Photo: Getty Images

How to keep shoes looking like new… “A few habits to make: Have your new shoes protected even before wearing them because you never know when it might suddenly start raining. For leather shoes, have them polished and conditioned at least twice a month. Keep your shoes away from sunlight while you are not wearing them and remember to keep the shoe trees in the shoes.”

How to pack shoes for travel… “If you want to travel light, place your shoes in linen dust bags and try to place the shoes in between your clothes so that they don’t get damaged at the airport from any sort of impact. As soon as you get to your destination, unpack the shoes to prevent damage to the shape. Also avoid placing them under any sunlight to prevent discoloration.”

What to look for in an investment shoe… “The most important thing to look for in a long-term shoe is quality. But remember that just because a shoe is expensive, it does not mean the quality matches the price. You should also take the precautions I mentioned to make sure that you keep the shoes for as long as possible. I would choose a black pair of leather shoes over any other color or material because black leather is the easiest to take care of.”

Visit Fast & Best Shoe Repair at 150 N. Sweetzer Ave. Los Angeles, CA.

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