When a beloved pair of shoes grows unsightly or unwearable, you may be wondering “Can you Restore Old Shoes?”

Eroded heels? Discoloured uppers? Punctured leather? With the right materials and expertise, damage like this won’t stop you from wearing your favorite shoes for years to come. Of course, a lot depends on the original quality of the shoes and just how much you are willing to invest in them.

And that’s what this post is all about. This in-depth old shoe restoration guide from Cobbleron will help you decide not only if your old shoes can be brought back to life, but also whether it’s worth it or not.



How long can leather shoes last?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of leather shoe lifetime. Think about cars and engine life. Two cars of the same model that came out of the factory on the same day might look completely different after 10 years of use. If one of them was mostly driven half a kilometre to and from work on weekdays, and the other was used for cross-country road trips four times a year, they are going to rack up very different mileages.

The same goes for your leather shoes. A high school teacher who spends all day walking around the classroom might only get a year out of his leather Oxfords before they are looking worn out. An office clerk who spends most of the day sitting at a desk could wear the same shoes for three years before they show much wear.

The important thing to understand is that your leather shoes will always live longer if you care for them properly. Furthermore, even old shoes can be made to look new again, so don’t be too quick to throw them out and buy new.



How do you make old shoes look new?

Old shoe restoration methods can be categorised into two groups: those you might be able to do on your own, and those you want to entrust to a professional cobbler.

Do-it-yourself shoe care:

  • Cleaning
  • Polishing
  • Conditioning

These are tasks that some people love to get into the habit of performing on a regular basis. Collectively, they help your leather shoes look shiny and new, while also maintaining their flexibility and water resistance. You can even purchase shoe cleaning starter kits that contain the most important supplies you need.


Can you Restore Old Shoes Is It Worth It & Can Mine Be Restored 1

So many shoes end up in landfill every year, so fixing shoes and making them wearable again is so important when trying to live more sustainably or attempting a zero waste lifestyle. – Thegoodlifewithamyfrench.com


Professional cobbler services:

  • Shoe part replacement (such as heels, plates, lining, or zippers)
  • Shoe repairs (such as leather patching or restitching)
  • Dying or recolouring
  • Stain removal

Cobbler Services like these are really best left to a professional because of the complexity of the job or the specialised materials required. Furthermore, there is just a lot at stake if a DIY job goes wrong. A bad dye job, for example, could be irreparable.


Restoring old heels


Can my shoes be restored?

The most accurate way to find out if your leather shoes can be restored is to contact us. You can give us a call to describe the damage to your shoes, or you can use our online contact form to upload pictures of your shoes. Once our professional cobblers understand the extent of the wear and tear, we can provide you with our best plan for restoring them, as well as a cost estimate.

Here are some of the signs that your shoes are beyond repair:

  • You are repeating a repair that you have already had done. For example, the soles are wearing thin but you have already had them re-soled once before.
  • The upper leather is cracked or dried throughout most of the shoe.
  • The welt is wearing away or excessively cracked.

That being said, almost any shoe can be restored, even when they contain some or all of those issues. However, there comes a point when, economically speaking, you may be better off investing in a new pair altogether.


Can you Restore Old Shoes Is It Worth It & Can Mine Be Restored 4

When you have shoes that are 20-30 years old and have had a lot of wear and tear and then a lot of neglect, you tend to get some deformity in the leather, and a whole lot of creasing, and maybe significant loosening of it too. – Theshoesnobblog.com


Is it worth it for me to have my shoes restored?

To answer this question, you want to start by weighing the cost of the shoes against the estimated cost of repairs.

If you have a pair of $350 Goodyear welted leather boots that can be revived for $75, it would be a worthwhile investment to have them restored. On the other hand, cheaper shoes without such sturdy construction may not be worth the money.

Another factor to consider is how long the repairs will last. If your cobbler predicts that a restoration job will add another year to the life of your old leather shoes, that can help you decide if it would be economical to buy a new pair or not.

Finally, consider how attached you are to this specific pair of shoes. Sentimental value can’t be narrowed down to a dollar price, but it’s just as important as any other factor. Maybe these are the boots you scaled Mount Gower in, and you just aren’t ready to say goodbye to them yet. Maybe you need designer shoe repair for a limited run that can’t be replaced. In cases like these, restoration is still worth the cost for you, even if the numbers say otherwise.





Common Shoe Restoration Services

Remember, your shoes probably have more life left in them than you think. Before you toss them in the waste bin, take a look at the services below. This is just a small sampling of the ways that Cobbleron can bring old shoes back to life.

Leather Polishing and Repair

Everyday use is going to lead to all manner of scuffs and tears in your leather shoes. Additionally, you may find that the leather is cracking in places where the shoe bends. Sometimes, the damage is small and can simply be buffed out with creams and polishes.

Other times, you might have larger holes or worn out spots. In these cases, we can often make use of colour-matched fillers in order to restore the damage. When fillers aren’t enough, we may recommend patching the damaged area or replacing a large piece of the leather in order to maintain aesthetic appeal.


Can you Restore Old Shoes Is It Worth It & Can Mine Be Restored 6

One of the most common problems of leather footwear, is the fading or flaking of previous polish or coatings. – Stoneandclark.com


Heel/Sole Replacement

Your heels and soles are going to wear out over time. There’s no avoiding it. Sometimes, because of the way you walk, you might even find that one heel is worn down while the other is still mostly intact.

You should consider replacement of the heels or soles if (1) your shoes aren’t providing the traction you need anymore, (2) you feel like your gait is uneven, or (3) the shoe bottoms are just starting to look thin.

A sure sign that you need new shoe bottoms are holes or patches that are visibly worn down. If you can see the insole, then your outer sole isn’t doing much for you anymore. Additionally, as your bottom wears down closer and closer to the welt line, you are getting closer and closer to needing new soles.


Can you Restore Old Shoes - heels


Heel/Toe Plate Installation or Replacement

Your shoes might not have them, but heel and toe plates are those fancy looking metal pieces on the bottom of some shoes. They are attached to—you guessed it—the heel or the toe. While some people think that they are merely an esthetic addition, plates are designed to increase the lifespan of the shoe by protecting the bottom from wear and tear.

Plates last a long time because they are typically made of a durable metal, like stainless steel or brass. However, you may still need them replaced eventually, especially for shoes you have owned for years.

Alternatively, we can also install plates on shoes that weren’t initially designed with them. This can be a wise addition if you find your toes or heels wearing out at an unexpected pace.


Leather Shoes Toe Plate Installation


Elastic Replacement

If your leather shoes feature elastics or straps, they can wear down much faster than other parts of the shoe due to their relatively thin composition. Elastic gussets can get overstretched as well because you will often tug at them when pulling your shoes on and off.

When elastics go, the shoe may feel unwearable. Even when the damage isn’t too severe, the shoe may just not fit very well anymore. The good news is that a professional cobbler can replace shoe elastics without too much trouble.



Inner Lining Repair

Over time, the inner lining of your shoes can deteriorate due to moisture absorption. Now, quality leather shoes should do a good job of keeping external moisture out, so the primary culprit of inner lining wear is your own sweat. Good old-fashioned friction plays a part as well.

The most likely place that your lining goes bad is behind your heel: the backlining. Our cobblers can typically fix this by removing any fraying material and sewing in a patch that matches the look and feel of the original. It’s less common for the lining to wear out further down your foot, but this sort of “invisible” damage can also be repaired to make your shoes feel like new again.


Inner Lining Repair


Zipper Replacement

Those zippers on your knee-high leather boots are more than just a functional accessory. They are a fashion statement. Okay, sometimes a zip is just a zip. But whether you care about the aesthetic appeal or not, a stuck or broken zipper can ruin an otherwise perfect pair of shoes.

If your zippers are still intact and just stuck, we may be able to simply repair them back to normal function. However, if the zip has fallen off or some of the teeth have been broken, you likely need zipper replacement. Sometimes, the materials are available to simply replace the broken parts. Other times, replacing both zippers completely is recommended so that your shoes match perfectly.


shoe zip Repair



Over time, stitches are going to come loose and fray. Well-crafted shoes will usually be able to withstand a good deal of lost stitches without any noticeable effect to their structure. However, broken stitches can become an eyesore. And, eventually, your shoes will start to fall apart as more and more stitches come loose.

Key places to inspect for loose stitching include where the sole meets the welt, and along seams in the shoe upper. Our restitching service—on its own or as part of a larger shoe restoration—can help lengthen the lifespan of your leather shoes. Good stitching will maintain both a shoe’s form and its water resistance.


shoe restitching melbourne


Dye & Recolouring

Old shoe restoration wouldn’t be complete without recolouring. Even more than the waning structural integrity of your shoes, the fading colour is the first thing that people will notice. Whenever possible, we aim to maintain the original colour of your shoes (unless you’re looking for a change).

When this isn’t realistic, our goal is to ensure that the final product doesn’t stand out as obviously “restored”, but instead looks new again. For example, if your leather shoes are light grey and heavily stained, we may need to go a shade darker in order to properly restore the shoes. In addition to colour, we also restore the texture (matte, glossy, etc.) with the assistance of various finishing products.


shoe cleaning melbourne



As we mentioned earlier, everyday cleaning is something that a cobbler can certainly take care of, but many shoe owners like to handle on their own. However, when it comes to heavy or deep stains, you may want to employ a professional. If you spill ink on your shoes, for example, or if they have grown mould, our experts have access to the safest cleaning materials and methods.

Sometimes, stains are so widespread or so deep that cleaning is not enough to make them look new again. In these cases, our cobblers may recommend recolouring the shoes as well in order to completely mask the stains.


shoe dyeing melbourne


Call Cobbleron for all your old shoe restoration needs!

Don’t see what you need on this page? Or maybe you aren’t even sure what type of services your old shoes require.

Just give us a call!

The professionals at Cobbleron are here to help. We’ll show you what type of repairs you need. We’ll compare different restoration methods. We’ll provide you with a clear estimate of the costs. And we’ll help you decide if old shoe restoration is worth it for you.

Reach out today for the professional cobbler your shoes deserve.

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