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***Warning: I write direct, often crass, with lots of spelling and grammatical errors. I do not write this blog to become ‘an editor or great writer,’ I write it to share knowledge and am usually in a rush as I also run a shoe company that, to be honest, takes precedence in my life. If you like to take things personally, heed my warning before proceeding.

One would think that it is common sense to not wear brand new shoes on a rainy day, and of course, I won’t lie and say that I have never done it. But after doing it, and seeing the consequences of what ‘can’ happen, I have learned from my errors and hope to share those here so that you all do not make the same mistakes that I and countless others have as well.

Again, I won’t claim to be a scientist on why skin/leather reacts certain ways at certain times. But having had such vast experiences in my use of shoes and handling of nearly every brand under the sun, I can give you a very strong precaution that is not based on 100% fact, as there are always exceptions (like black calf), but will be based on enough merit to potentially save you from blunders that could have been prevented.

Picture courtesy of Shoegazing

All leathers are different. All react differently. Cheap leathers especially. Light colors even more so. But just because those are generally regarded as volatile, does not mean that one should be careless with their more expensive, darker leathers. The reason being is that not all rain is also the same. Different regions have rain with more salinity in it than other regions. I have had downpours turn my shoes black and then dry evenly. I have had one tiny spec of rain hit my shoe and leave a rain stain. Go figure, right?! And the reason is that when leather is new, and those pores have not opened, it is more susceptible to issue. Now I do not know why that is on a scientific level, but have dealt with it countless times in my life as a professional shoe shiner and also as someone that has owned more than a 1000 shoes in his lifetime by hundreds of makers, from cheap ones to the top of the spectrum. I have had shoes of the same leather take rain after the second wear and were fine. But a different pair, in the same leather, worn for the first time on a rainy day and blistered.

Therefore, while of course, you can do what you want. You can polish your brand new shoes, thinking that it will protect them from rain and take your own risk but it does not guarantee that you will actually be protecting your shoes. The best protection is prevention and the smartest thing you can do is wear your brand new shoes on a day that it is not scheduled to rain, break that leather in, open those pores up, and then give them a good shining and feel confident to face the rain. And I write with one agenda: to help you and nothing more. I will make all of the mistakes so you do not have to. I write based on the experience of dealing with things first hand. Not in theories.

Picture courtesy of Shoegazing

The simple fact, no matter what others tell you, is that leather when new and its pores closed, is more susceptible to adverse reactions. The leather and its pores open as you move the leather i.e. as you wear the shoes. The more you wear the shoes, the more the pores open and openly accept any type of liquid with more positive reactions. If you don’t believe me, go make a test. Go spill beer on your brand new crust leather shoes. Then do so on your used, polished crust leather shoes and let me know how they both dry.

I can also say that if you wear brand new shoes on a rainy day and soak them, the leather will drastically loosen due to that, as opposed to breaking in the leather on a dry day. I have chelsea boots that have stretched drastically because I soaked them on the first day’s wear. Others that still fit tight as a glove, as I broke them in on a dry day and have subsequently worn them on wet days after but as the leather was already broken in, it did not have the same effect as the overly stretched chelseas. Again, go figure.

Lastly, this is not 100% a fact. There are always exceptions like I stated above. Some shoes will take the rain like a champ on the first day. But many others won’t. I write this as a general rule of thumb that will prevent you from potential future headaches. Always break your shoes in on a dry day. Avoid potential problems, if you can. You just might thank me later 🙂

17 thoughts on “Do Not Wear Brand New Shoes In The Rain”

  1. Any suggestions with cordovan and suede in wet weather. I’ve heard not to wear either in the rain. I’ve also heard that cordovan is better in rain and I’ve heard suede, once brushed, sprayed with a non-silicone water protector, dried, and then brushed again, is more water resistant than calf.

  2. Thank you. As I live in Scotland with three times the rainfall of London, I’ll make a note to wear my new Cheaney shoes for the first time in April 🙂

    1. Justin FitzPatrick

      Being in a place where you might not have the luxury of following this advice you probably have already given into the fact that the rain could potentially stain your shoes and simply get on with life

      1. True. Before I started working from home many years ago, I used to walk an average of about 3 miles a day on my commute and out and about at lunchtime. Predominantly with leather soled shoes.
        In autumn/winter a leather soled shoe used to last between 30 to 40 days wear (not consecutive days of course) before the sole was worn through, just due to it being constantly worn in the wet. In the drier months you could double that
        I was a familiar face at the shoe repair shop.

  3. Nice Article, I remember long time back I wear brand new leather shoes and suddenly it started raining whole shoes was soaked wet, however I place it in our heater room to get dry and then use brown polish to make it look brand new again 🙂

  4. I buy high quality shoes so the leather is excellent. Cheaney, Church’s, Crockett and Jones. Living in England where it rains (most of the time). I always polish my shoes before wearing them and have never suffered stains that you mention. If the leather is high quality, it will take the creme and polish first time. If it is inferior leather, it simply will not absorb the oils and fats.

  5. Thank you, Justin. Mark in Atlanta here. I read and reread your blog and save east post for reference. appreciate the information and education. Stay well, my friend. By the way, those Palachios are breaking in well. Slowly (big rotation), but well.

  6. Hi…Great information as I have bought a new pair of stunners…But in uk is -4 and started to to rain, So sadly my stunners will be in the house today resting !!!…Better safe than sorry!!!…Thanks ..Barry

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