Not long ago, Will from A Suitable Wardrobe provided us with one of their Groom Shoe Shine Kits for review.
It comes in a nice wooden box that measures roughly 9” x 7.5” x 6.5” (23 cm x 19 cm x 15cm). We received the edition in black varnish, which allows some of the wood to remain visible. It has a simple silver clasp closure mechanism and a black leather handle which comes with clean white contrast stitching. Alternatively the kit comes is a rosewood varnish or in a honey colored finish.
Pig Bristle Brushes
On the inside, there are three compartments for shoe care supplies and two elastic straps which hold the smaller brushes is place. In total, it includes a total of 7 brushes: 2 polishing brushes, 2 application brushes for putting the shoe polish on the leather, a suede brush and 2 little brushes. Although the latter are not much larger than a toothbrush, the bristles are considerably longer and hence you reach every corner of your shoe. All of these brushes come in white and black bristles so you can use one for darker colors and one for neutral shoe polish. The polishing brushes are not very large and for my hands I would have preferred a slightly wider brush, however that mostly comes down to personal preference. Users with a smaller hand may prefer this size. All brushes seem to be constructed with pig bristles.
The suede leather brush is made with partly pig and partly brass bristles. It is used to give the suede an even texture after it has been cleaned and to create uniformity in spots that have become a little dull. As you probably know, suede / nubuck / velour leather is never to be treated with regular shoe polish. In case the suede is stained, you usually have to make the entire shoe wet, clean it and let it dry. Part of the set is a La Cordonnerie Anglais “Suede Cleaner Shampoo,” which is basically a foam. Once is is gently put on the brush or applied to the suede, you just brush the stain and let it evaporate. I had a visible stain on one of my St. Crispin Chukka boots and so I tried the cleaner. After 10 minutes, the stain was not visible anymore and I only used a very small amount of foam. This is certainly much easier and less labor intensive than utilizing the aforementioned process of wetting and drying the whole shoe.
Boxcalf & Smooth Leathers
For regular smooth leathers, you should use the other brushes in combination with the La Cordonnerie “Shoe Cream” or the turpentine wax polishing pastes. The shoe cream only comes in neutral and it is absorbed by the leather rather quickly. All of the polishing accoutrements are private label products from Saphir Medaille d’Or, and the cream nourishes the leather and keeps it smooth over the years. For a neat shine, you should use either the black or neutral turpentine wax pastes. Unlike the cream, they are very hard and the product is not really absorbed by the leather. However, with a little water and the right technique, you can achieve a brilliant shoe shine with a certain kind of depth by applying it to the shoe with cloth that comes with the kit. It should be noted that the box does not come with directions for the shoe cream and the turpentine wax; everyone has their own secret recipe for shoe polishing. I achieved the best results by applying the cream first, following with several layers of the turpentine wax, and wearing the shoes until a polish was required again. The shoe horn is made of metal, curved and serves its purpose well. However, it is not really special in my opinion.
Overall, this kit is very beautiful and would make a perfect gift for a loved one who appreciates a properly shined shoe. Furthermore, the wooden box would make a nice showpiece on a shelf. In the US, you can purchase it from A Suitable Wardrobe for $450.