Pro Tips: How to Keep Your Shoes in Tip-Top Shape

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Up until recently, I didn't take great care of my shoes. All of that changed after a recent dinner with a friend, when she walked in with what looked like a brand new pair of heels. I complimented her and didn't believe her when she told me they were twelve years old. That's when I decided to seek out Arturo Azinian of Arturo's. Azinian has been Los Angeles' "King of Sling" since 1964 – the last seventeen of which he's worked alongside his grandson, Ari. These master crafters have rescued the torn, stained, and broken shoes (and purses) of their devoted clients – extending the life of many Manolos and Louboutins. Here, Arturo and Ari share their tips on keeping your favorite shoes pristine, along with a great purse tip!

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1.Check on your shoe’s “health." "Be diligent about checking the bottom of your shoes. People oftentimes forget to do this and will run their shoes into the ground. What could have been minor fixes become major ones. Things you should look out for include a nail peeking out out of the heel of your stiletto, or severely scratched soles. Most dressy heels have thin soles that will wear down easily. The preventative measure here is to add a thin layer of protective rubber. This is called a dancer’s sole, and if you plan on wearing your shoes frequently, this is your best bet. The amount of wear goes up exponentially with a dancer’s sole and when we do this for a customer, we usually don't see them for months."

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2.Try on shoes for 10 minutes before buying them. "When people go to a store to buy shoes, they usually try them on and do one quick back and forth walk. This is not enough time. I’d recommend spending 5-10 minutes in the shoes. If you get the wrong size, it doesn’t matter how much you stretch or tighten them, they will never fit correctly. It is impossible to stretch even a half size, so if they’re too small, leave them."

3.Beware of escalators, decks, and grates. "We get so many torn up heel covers. You can replace the leather covers on the heel of course, but it’ll never be exactly the same as the original." 

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4.Pets love expensive shoes. "If you have a dog, do not leave your expensive shoes on the floor. There have been shoes that we’ve had to rebuild from scratch because a dog chewed through the entire back heel and stiletto. And for cat owners: Don’t let them sleep in your purse. If they go to the bathroom in it, you won't ever be able to get the smell out."

5.Leather and rubber needs to be exercised. "If you haven’t worn a shoe for over a year or longer, the rubber heel tap and leather can dry out. We’ve seen heel taps disintegrate as soon as a customer puts shoes on after a long break and the leather upper can crack just by flexing them. lf you have shoes you love and only wear on rare occasion, you should either condition them ever so often, or wear them around the house so that the rubber and leather have a chance to flex and move."  

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6.Storelight-colored patent leathers separately. "Your light colored patent leather shoes and purses should never be stored with any other colored leather or plastics. They will absorb the other color, and it will be impossible to take it out. I would even recommend wrapping them in tissue, especially when you travel and carry multiple shoes in a suitcase. (If there is color transfer, you do have the option to dye the shoe black.)" 

7. A trick for one-time wear. "You can dye light to dark, but not dark to light...except for one-time use. If you want to use the shoes for one day (maybe your wedding day or any other one-day event), and never plan on wearing them again, this could be the option for you. Just keep in mind that if you scuff them, the dark color will show underneath."

And one last thing!

Your denim is like sandpaper to purses. "We get a lot of customers that come in with stained purses. If you have a light colored purse, please don’t let it rub against your jeans. For leather, we can clean it and add a little polish or dye, but it will never look exactly as it once did. For suede and canvas purses, we have to scrub the stain out so the suede can change colors where the stain once was. You must remember that the material of your denim is grooved like sandpaper - so not only does the dye transfer onto your purse, but your denim is literally sanding your purse."

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