„Rinse shoes with water, before salt stains occur“

December 15, 2015


Interview with bespoke shoemaker Matthias Vickermann of Vickermann & Stoya, Baden-Baden, about shoe care during winter, tips and tricks and which shoes can be worn the whole year.

Shoe maker Matthias Vickermann and Christian Frosch, Men's Individual Fashion, at the workshop in Baden-Baden. Photo: Men's Individual Fashion.
Shoe maker Matthias Vickermann and Christian Frosch, Men's Individual Fashion, at the workshop in Baden-Baden. Photo: Men's Individual Fashion.

Mr. Vickermann, when it gets cold, when winter is coming, what do I do with my shoes?


There are three topics: protection against the cold, protection against slipping and special care during winter. The question about warmth usually is at the forefront. When it grows cold, the cold from the ground gets into the shoe. It gets through leather soles very quickly, thus a rubber sole is recommendable.


Of course, a leather sole is more exquisite, but it is too cold during winter and also not necessary. Rubber soles are less breathable than leather soles, but during winter, the wearer is sweating less, so that this does not cause a problem. A different matter is that the cold gets in around the ankle. If it is that cold, ankle boots and boots covering the ankle nicely are recommendable.


So how do rubber soles differ from each other?


Rubber soles with a more distinctive tread become cold later than such with a less distinctive tread. The wearer just walks with the tread, the walk surface is smaller and the cold needs more time to enter the shoe. A sole made of one piece of rubber helps for sure, but is rather lumpy.


The shape of the tread is important, too. V-shaped treads gather up less gravel than horizontal shaped treads. Besides, a v-shaped tread accommodates movement more. But certainly how the tread looks like plays a role, too.


What can wearers do, if they do not want to walk without their leather soles?


Galoshes are very popular. They are overshoes, which are made wholly out of rubber. They come in different colours; we sell them chiefly in black, dark brown and orange. Especially orange ones are funny, if you wear something like that. Besides, galoshes have the great advantage, that they also protect the uppers. Sadly, they are not available in my size (laughs). (note MIF: Matthias Vickermann has shoe size 14.5)


What else can help during winter?


When it is really cold, even a good tread will not help anymore. Then additional insoles are recommended. They are made of lambskin, aluminium or felt.


Are there insoles for every type of shoe?


Yes, there are very thin ones; two millimetres, with body weight only one millimetre. They fit into every shoe.


What else should be minded?


The topic of warmth also depends on the sock. They are made of all sorts of materials, wool, cotton, even cashmere. That makes a big difference. As to expensive cashmere socks, you should pay attention to caring for them properly, otherwise they become damaged quickly. You can also consider the leather inside the shoe: Uncreased leather produces less friction warmth. By contrast, a little rough surface causes warmth during the walking, since the feet move a little bit inside the shoe. Some people simply have issues with the blood circulation in the feet, in this case alternate hot and cold water baths for the feet can help.


What is special about the winter shoe care?


Nourish the shoe well! A lot of shoe polish, especially in the frame region is important. Shoe trees are always important, but of particular significance in winter. There is so much more moisture, additionally to the feet sweat. 


What shall be avoided?


Never ever put the shoes on a radiator or near a source of warmth!


What can you do against salt stains on the shoes?


This is often just rinsed out tannic acid. My best advice is to rise the shoes with clear water shortly after arrival home. Then stuff the shoe with newspaper and lay by the shoe, enabling air coming to the sole. If the salt stains are eventually in the upperleather, it becomes difficult. Then you need leather cleanser, sattle soap or just go directly to a shoe maker, in order that he might save the shoe.

The tread is important. Photo: Men's Individual Fashion.
The tread is important. Photo: Men's Individual Fashion.

„There are chains for the shoes. They work pretty much like snow chains for cars.“


What can you do against slipperiness?


Apart from a good tread, there are chains for the shoes. They works pretty much like a snow chain for cars. This is your top seller in winter, costs 25 Euro. A rubber cap at the pointed toe and at the back of the shoe hold two chains under the sole. The chains have more grip than a galosh, particulary when it is very cold and freezed. By contrast, the advantage of the galoshes are that they protect the upper leather. 


What can you do to avoid nasty surprises in winter?


I recommend to have a shoe with rubber sole before it is time for ankle boots. If somebody really does not want to have rubber soles, you might be prepared with galoshes.


What do I have to consider when the winter is over?


My recommendation is to repair the shoes after the winter. Then the tread is worn-down. Having repaired the shoes early, the man has flawless shoes when it turns suddenly cold. Many guys come to shoemakers when they need the shoes most and then repairing them might last a bit.


Which kind of shoes do a man really need to walk through the whole year?


I would say four. A plain summer shoe, let’s say a loafer and a plain winter shoe, for example an ankle boot. Furthermore a black oxford with leather sole and maybe a derby full brogue having a sole with a less distinctive tread. Then you have a plain shoe for winter and summer and two you can wear always. With this selection you can change throughout the week in every season. 


What is the price for such a selection?


Between 1000 and 1500 Euros for four pairs of shoes that last you have to calculate. 


Mr. Vickermann, thanks you very much for these valueable information.


You are welcome.



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By Christian Frosch. Christine Fröhlich contributed research and support



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