Shoes 201 – Shoe Care – Suede Shoes

This is an excellent video and article by videojug about the proper care, cleaning and revival of suede leather shoes. Peter Schweiger,  the 5th generation owner of the British bespoke shoemakers James Taylor & Son, , demonstrates the techniques.

How To Clean Suede Shoes

How to Clean and Care For Suede Shoes - Video

How to Clean and Care For Suede Shoes – Video

Step 1: You will need:

  • 1 suede protector spray
  • 1 suede cleaning brush
  • 1 small knife
  • 1 nail brush
  • 1 sponge
  • 1 shoe tree/ white tissue paper
  • 1 crepe rubber/ pencil eraser

Step 2: Introduction

Suede is a kind of leather with a soft raised surface called a ‘nap’. It can spoil more easily than leather so needs a special level of care. It makes sense to always spray new shoes with a protecting spray.

Step 3: Protection spray

These sprays can be bought from footwear shops, and will protect your shoes from the water damage and staining. Before applying the spray, lightly brush your shoes to remove any dust or dirt. Always brush in the same direction to lift the nap. Make sure you follow the manufactures instructions on the side of the aerosol can. Shake well, spray away from your face, and as with all aerosols, only use in a well ventilated area.

Step 4: Scuff marks

Even with a protection spray, shiny marks can still appear if you scuff suede shoes, flattening down their surface. Restore by brushing back and forth with a suede brush. If the shoes are very worn, scrape with a sharp knife to lift the nap.

If your suede has dirty marks, try removing them with one of the sides of a suede brush

Experts recommend using a little crêpe rubber, or even a pencil eraser to ‘lift’ the marks from you shoes. The dirt will transfer from the suede to the rubber

Step 5: Removing mud

If your shoes get muddy, wait till the mud dries, then use a stiff brush, such as a nail brush to remove the dirt. Move with a sweeping action, and keep all your strokes in the same direction. Work all the way around the shoe, including the edges of the sole. Pay special attention to any dirt stuck in detailing.

Step 6: Wet suede

If part of the shoe gets gets wet, the water can leave a tide mark and dry a different colour. So wet the shoes all over, sponge off any excess water and insert a shoe tree to keep the shoe in shape as it dries. If you don’t have a shoe tree, stuff the toes shoes with white tissue paper, or any white paper to hold them firm.

Don’t use newspaper if your shoes are very wet, as the print may leech into the shoes

Leave the shoes to dry overnight. Then gently brush to restore the texture.

Step 7: Stains

Stains like oil and grease are almost impossible to remove.
Work into the area with a suede brush to see if that lifts the stain, treating it as you would a scuff.
If not, remove the laces, and wash the shoes with a little water and a stiff brush.

If this doesn’t work, it may be time to say goodbye to your dirty shoes

Step 8: Storing suede

When you’re not wearing your shoe, wrap them in tissue paper and put in a shoe box, heel to toe. Don’t keep them in plastic bags or airtight boxes and avoid humidity, which can make them mouldy and avoid bright light, which can discolour suede. Keep them in a dark dry place.

The Birth of a Hat – Stetson


When this film was made around 1920, hats were an essential item of everyday dress and few people ventured outside without one. Birth of a Hat: The Art and Mystery of Making Fur Felt Hats gives an insider’s tour of what was then the largest hat-making operation in the world, the John B. Stetson Company. The company’s founder and namesake John B. Stetson (1830-1906) was best known as the inventor of the cowboy hat — the wide-brimmed waterproof-felt “Boss of the Plains” classic introduced in 1865. As the legend goes, the young man went to Colorado for his health and there developed the prototype from beaver pelts collected on a hunting trip. A hatter by training, Stetson set up shop in Philadelphia and, with unerring marketing savvy, sent samples to merchants throughout the Southwest, demanding a minimum order of a dozen. He also branded his hats, embossing his name on every sweatband. The “Boss” became an overnight success.

Humphrey Bogart wearing a Royal Stetson Fedora

Humphrey Bogart wearing a Royal Stetson Fedora

Stetson expanded into other styles — bowlers, derbies, top hats, boaters, cavalry hats, and woolen caps. At its peak, the nine-acre Stetson facility in the Philadelphia outskirts annually processed 16 million animal pelts into felt and churned out 3.3 million hats. The factory employed 5,400 people and send product around the world. After the United States, the firm’s largest markets were Argentina, Mexico, Canada, and South Africa. In true Western fashion, each felt hat, although carefully styled, could be steamed and reshaped by its owner. Among the more famous customizers was Buster Keaton, who restyled Stetson’s fedora into his trademark porkpie hat.

Vintage Stetson Fedora Hat Advertisement

Vintage Stetson Fedora Hat Advertisement

The Stetson plant was a model of industrial efficiency, with men cutting, shaping, and dying the hats and women weaving straw, finishing, and making boxes. To command worker loyalty — and fight off unionization — the company offered a hospital, school, park, and housing as well as a panoply of employee services, from paid vacations, life insurance, and pension plans to Americanization classes, holiday turkeys, and baseball leagues. In the 1950s, as demand for headgear began to falter, production waned. The complex closed in 1971.

Birth of a Hat showcases the production-line methods that Stetson brought to the ancient craft of hatmaking. After a brief history of headgear through the ages, the film moves step by step through the modern process, showing how the felt is made, shaped, styled, and finished into a dress hat. The Stetson factory still relied at this time on a good deal of handwork but dramatically increased efficiency and delivered a consistently high-quality product.

While the company’s founder is said to have claimed, “there’s no advertisement equal to a well-pleased customer,” this film comes mighty close. Birth of a Hat was circulated to distributors and merchants to drum up sales and was also released as a longer two-reeler, giving more information about the raw materials, factory, and distribution. The updated video The Making of a Stetson Hat is still viewable on the firm’s website today.

(Many thanks to Jessica Getman, a graduate student of Caryl Flinn at the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor, for her informative paper about this film.)

About the Preservation
Birth of a Hat was preserved under the direction of UCLA Film & Television Archive from a 35mm tinted nitrate print discovered in 2010 at the New Zealand Film Archive. The source material was scanned at a high resolution and output to 35mm polyester film stock at Colorlab. The work was funded through the support of a Save America’s Treasures Grant secured by the NFPF in 2011.

Like many American industrial giants, Stetson made films to sell its products and edited major titles for different markets. Birth of a Hat was the perennial favorite for Stetson. We know that some version screened at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco and was promoted in a 1918 advertising flyer. Although the New Zealand copy carries no release date, we can date the film from around 1920, when the nitrate filmstock was manufactured.

Further Reading
The Philadelphia Historical Society gives a history of the Stetson plant site at

Television Program of Note – Downton Abbey

The Well Dressed Cast of Downton Abbey

The Well Dressed Cast of Downton Abbey

From the BBC comes a well written and well costumed drama series, Downton Abbey. Set in post-Edwardian England, the television series follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants during the reign of King George V.

The main male characters exhibit all the sense of style expected from an Englishman in the jaunty manner of the county manor. There is the patriarch, Robert Crawley;

Robert, Earl of Grantham

Robert, Earl of Grantham

the interloper heir Matthew Crawley;

Matthew, third cousin, once removed, of Lord Grantham

Matthew, third cousin, once removed, and heir of Lord Grantham

and the gentleman caller, Sir Richard Carlisle;

Sir Richard, Suitor to the Crawley Women

Sir Richard, Suitor to the Crawley Women

There are several other notable characters that I am sure will be gracing this blog soon enough!

There is even a parody of the opening credits of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that sets up the basic premise of the program:

and lest ye think it’s all a black tie and velvet affair, feast your eyes on yonder tweed and despair from envy,

The Characters on Downton Abbey in Hunting Tweed

The Characters on Downton Abbey in Hunting Tweed

Fitzgerald, DiCaprio and Luhrmann – The Great Gatsby is Coming! (In 3D!!)

Help Kingpin be named the sharpest man in Canada by voting here!!

Few film events excite the sartorially inclined for reasons solely of style and clothing. But when they do… Bammo!

The buzz about Baz Luhrmann‘s 3D film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby has been steadily growing among the dandy set since the project was announced and is expected to only grow until it’s release. Starring as the titular Gatsby is Leonardo DiCaprio, along side Carey MulliganIsla Fisher and Tobey Maguire among others.

American Dandy, Author and Poster Boy for the Lost Generation - F. Scott Fitzgerald

American Dandy, Author and Poster Boy for the Lost Generation – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s story is many things, and in Luhrmann’s lush, ocular hands, is expected to be the style experience of the season. The few photos from the production that have been released teasingly promise a treasure trove of well dressed gentlemen in fine dandy style.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby Looking Sharp as He Walks Past a Duesenberg

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby Looking Sharp as He Walks Past a Duesenberg

There is also a full length trailer that is even more alluring, much like the stories of Fitzgerald himself.

And keep in mind you’ll be able to experience all this gentlemen dress and style in 3D. I’m off to mix a batch of mint juleps in anticipation! I suspect the only thing that could make this movie even more amazing would be a surprise cameo by Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling as Imagined in a Surprise Cameo in The Great Gatsby

Ryan Gosling as Imagined in a Surprise Cameo in The Great Gatsby

Kingpin Music – Electro Swing in Toronto, Friday April 13th at the Gladstone Hotel

Electro Swing in Toronto, Friday April 13th at the Gladstone Hotel

Electro Swing Club is a global network, operating sold-out events in London, Paris, Turin, Vancouver and beyond. It is coming to Toronto as the one and only monthly event dedicated to the genre. The launch event is this Friday, April 13, 2012 at the Gladstone Hotel on Queen West in Toronto.

Electro Swing Club Canada Party Guests

Electro Swing Club Canada Party Guests

The electro swing sound is a fusion of old and new, combining traditional swing with electronic music such as house, electro, dubstep, drum & bass and hip hop. I would consider it a solid branch of the victrolacore music tree.

This event will feature DJs, live acts, burlesque performers, visuals and décor and, together with a vintage dress code, will evoke the sounds, spirit and fashion of the 1920s – 40s, giving them a modern edge.

You can check out their website at