Oliver Sweeney Shoe repair service
BRANDS / SHOE REPAIR / OLIVER SWEENEY
I have this thing with suede. Don’t ask me why. I love leather too but my shoe wardrobe reveals a partizan penchant for a brushed velvety nap. Historically I’d throw out suedes that had seen better days, but I’d heard about Oliver Sweeney’s shoe repair service and was keen to see if this would inspire a sense of shoe sustainability within me.
Sweeney apply the same skilled techniques and attention to detail in their shoe repair service as they do when your shoes are first made, so as to achieve their exacting high standards of finish they expect from brand new shoes.
I arrange to drop my Sweeney’s off at their Marylebone store. Daniel Matos, deputising for store manager Ian Osborne, is expecting me. We discuss, either side of cobbler’s musings, our mutual love of northern Portugal, from where he hails. I hand him my beloved brown suede monkstraps. Well worn soles displaying more holes than a swiss cheese, sides spliced like a cricket bat that’s borne the brunt of a West Indies pace attack, not to mention upper ‘s peppered with stains and scuffs.
I was intrigued, not only to see the soles metamorphosise in a matter of weeks, but how the suede would resurrect with the deep clean Daniel had just described. I outline my vision of expectation and snap some ‘before’ pictures, then my go to monk straps disappear into the back room. From here they will make their way to a family run factory in Suffolk, to be re-made on their original lasts by hand. The main components required for repair are provided by Sweeney’s factory in Italy, as well as select tanneries, last manufacturers and sole suppliers within the UK.
Sweeney offer repairs to both Blake Stitched and Goodyear Welted models. If you’re unsure as to which category yours fall in to, read on further below.
2 weeks later I’m notified that my monks are back in town, ready for collection. I’m impressed, I was sure it would take longer. Daniel is there once again, handing me a Sweeney shoe box to peruse its contents. I have to say I am thrilled by what lies inside:
“My monks (pictured below), neatly wrapped in swaddling tissue, are back from their staycay in rural Suffolk, ready to hit the streets of London once again. They are resplendent, unrecognisable from the pair I left behind, scrubbed, brushed and resoled, back from the brink. They are about as good as new as I could have imagined.”
Do your bit for sustainability. You know you want to. What better way to extend the life of a favourite pair of Sweeney’s? They have moulded to your foot over the years and months afterall, so comfort-wise you’re already one step ahead of a box fresh pair. Plus you have smart new soles and a suede buff to boot. For particularly stubborn suede stains an advanced clean can be administered, but in my case it wasn’t needed.
For £125, you can give Blake stitched models like my monkstraps, a new lease of life. For a Goodyear welted shoe, such as a brogue, the cost is even less at £85. I am converted and urge you to do the same.
Above left: Blake stitch shoe remake / Above right: Goodyear welted
BLAKE STITCHED SHOE REMAKE The stitching that attaches the upper to the sole is inside the shoe, enabling a sleeker finish. The Italian artisan’s speciality, Blake-stitched shoes are made by attaching a lasted leather upper to a leather insole, and then stitching this through the sole, directly to it. This construction results in shoes with a sleek, slimmed-down profile, as the sole can be closely trimmed to the upper, and it’s the signature style of our family-run Italian factory.
GOODYEAR WELTED SHOE REPAIR The main stitching that attaches the upper to the sole is on the edge of the sole, creating a distinctive stepped edge. Constructed by sewing the upper and insole to a leather welt which runs around the edge of the shoe, and then stitching the welt itself directly to the sole, creating a tight seal. Goodyear Welted shoes are known for being hardwearing and easily-reparable, and feature a distinctive sewn detail that makes the quality of the construction clearly visible to all.