A good pair of shoes is often described as "an investment", but unlike most investments this is one that you put your feet into and then hit repeatedly against the ground. Small wonder, then, that even the best-made pairs can eventually end up looking somewhat sub-prime.
Having said that, only the most obsessive footwear nut would advocate wrapping your shoes up in cotton wool, and in our opinion a pair of lovingly worn old Oxfords says something about a man that box-fresh sneakers never could. So, unless you're planning on spending the rest of your life indoors, you'd best come to terms with the universal truth that all shoes, however treasured, must age.
With this in mind, don't forget that there are steps you can take to revive even the most beaten-up pair. One man who knows more about this than most is Mr Costas Xenophontos, director of Classic Shoe Repairs (classicshoerepairs.com). Tucked away on an unassuming street in North London, his workshop was founded in 1963 and has since built a reputation as the finest cobbler in the city, entrusted with repairing worn and damaged shoes from some of the world's best designers.
Here, he shares some of his wisdom.
This is a great way to ruin your shoes, making the leather brittle and causing it to crack. If they're really drenched, stuff them with absorbent material - newspaper works well - and let them dry naturally.
A tempting option, but it's the worst stuff for leather. It's impossible to take it off without damaging the surface underneath, and if a shoe needs stitching the needle won't be able to pierce it.
Your average high-street cobbler might not be used to handling classic, handmade shoes on a regular basis. It's worth the expense to avoid the risk of seeing your favourite pair come back to you with a cheap plastic heel, or worse.