How to Darken Leather Dress Shoes | Kirby Allison

Hi, I’m Kirby Allison and we love to help
the well-dressed take care of their wardrobes. In today’s video, I’m gonna
show you how to darken a pair of leather shoes. You might want to darken your
leather dress shoes to give them a new look or to give them a slight antique
effect or maybe they’re just a little too light for your taste.This can easily
be achieved using Saphir Pommadier cream polish. If you have any questions or
comments during this video, please ask them in the comment section below. I
enjoy getting back to as many of those questions as possible. There are two ways
to darken a leather dress shoe. The first, which is permanent, is to use an
alcohol-based leather dye like the Saphir Teinture Francaise. This is a
permanent method and one that we don’t advocate or recommend here at The Hanger
Project for any non professional users. The second and safer way and slightly
less permanent is to use a pigmented cream polish like the Saphir Pommadier
cream polish. Since it’s not permanent, simply using the Saphir RenoMat can
pull that polish off and restore the shoe to his original color. What’s great
about the Saphir Pommadier cream polish is because of the high quality of
pigments and the concentration of pigments used in this polish, it’s very
effective at changing the color of a particular pair of shoes. In this
tutorial, I’ll use the Saphir Medaille d’Or Pommadier cream polish and the Saphir Medaille d’Or Pate de Luxe. Here I have a pair of Allen Edmonds Strands in the chestnut
color which is a real beautiful light brown and we’re gonna see how we can
take this to a slightly darker patina. The first thing I’m going to do in step
one is to just test the color of the pigments to validate which one I want to
use to darken these shoes. My intuition is that since this is a light brown shoe
that the medium brown is gonna be the best color, but let’s just validate that
by testing it on a small hidden area of the shoe. So I’m gonna apply this is the
dark brown polish and I’m just gonna apply it here with my finger. And as you
can see it does a good job just illustrating that you know even though
these are cream polishes, the pigment is still quite quite transparent. But you
can see, I mean, this dark polish on this light brown shoe is really providing a
very dark contrast. As I’m seeing it I think it just doesn’t look incredibly
natural. Whereas the light brown as you can see is gonna do a better job
darkening this shoe. Now after multiple applications, the saturation of this
pigment will bring this leather darker and darker. And so my personal opinion is
that it’s better to incrementally darken your leather shoes than trying to take
them from a light brown straight to a dark brown. So my choice here is going to
be to go with the medium brown polish. So now that I’ve tested the color of
polish I want I’m going to begin applying it to this Allen Edmonds Strand.
Grab a small amount of the Saphir pigmented cream polish and a cotton
chamois and begin to apply it to the leather shoe using small circular
motions and medium to firm pressure. You really want to get this polish into the
leather and you do that by applying a little bit of pressure. Allow the polish
three to five minutes to really be absorbed by the leather and then buff it
off using a horsehair brush. I recommend at least two to three applications of
the cream polish that fully saturate this leather. So I’ve applied three coats
of the Saphir Pommadier cream polish in the medium brown and you can see that
the color of these shoes has definitely been brought up a shade. Now it’s not a
dramatic difference, but as I said earlier we’re going for an incremental
evolutionary darkening of this shoe as opposed to trying to take it to dark too
quickly. And I really like the look of the shoe. Now the next step is going to
be to apply the Saphir Pate de Luxe wax polish. The hard waxes in the Pate de Luxe
are going to help seal the pigment from the cream polish into the shoe and
further add to the darkening in addition to just increasing the shine of the
entire shoe itself just to make it look good. So here I’ve got both a medium
brown and a dark brown and this is the point where you could honestly begin to
experiment with. Now one of the important things to keep in mind with the wax
polish is that the pigments are much more transparent than a cream polish, so
whereas I would have not liked to have used a dark brown cream polish directly
on this chestnut shoe to begin with, you could use a dark brown wax polish and it
would have a less of a dramatic effect on the color of the shoe. So for the
purposes of this video and to illustrate the transparency of the wax pigment, I’m
actually going to go ahead and use the dark brown wax polish here. So because I want this polish to really
get into the shoes, you want to apply medium to firm pressure. Once you’re done
applying, buff off with a horsehair brush. So after just one application of the
Saphir Pate de Luxe wax polish you can see that the shine is really beginning to
elevate in those additional pigments, especially the dark brown pigments of
this polish are further darkening this leather. You can see that the difference
between the right shoe and the left shoe is really becoming quite noticeable at
this point. Another benefit of the Saphir Pate de Luxe wax polish again is that
those hard waxes are going to help seal in that pigment. Now if you were totally
unhappy with the result of the shoe, you’d be able to remove 80% to 90% of
that darkening effect with just using the Saphir RenoMat. If you really wanted
to take this shoe to the next level of course you can finish this process off
with the Saphir Mirror Gloss to really develop a nice high-gloss patina on the
toe cap of the shoe. We’re not going to do this in this video because it falls
outside the scope of what we’re trying to demonstrate, but we have an extensive
playlist with multiple videos on how to produce the perfect mirror shine. So
there you have it. It looks like a totally different shoe especially
whenever you compare it to the left shoe that we didn’t do anything to. This
really shows where the line gets blurred between darkening a shoe and antiquing it
which are really two of the same things. Especially using the dark brown Pate
de Luxe on top of the medium brown polish, you
can really see where the shoe has dimension and character to it which you
don’t get from the flat factory finish of most out-of-the-box shoes. So just to
summarize the process we went through to produce these results. First, I used a
little bit of Saphir RenoMat just to prepare the shoe by pulling anything off
the top of that leather that may have prevented the Pommadier cream polish
from really penetrating and delivering those pigments deep into the pores.
Second, we applied a medium brown Saphir Pommadier cream polish and really worked
it into the shoe using medium to firm pressure to push those pigments in. I applied three to four coats of the Saphir cream polish
buffing each one off in between. And then finally, I sealed that in and further
added dimension and character to this shoe with a dark brown Saphir Pate de Luxe
wax polish. In addition to providing additional kind of variation in the
patina, a little bit of an antiquing effect, the hard waxes in a wax polish
helped seal the pigments from the cream polish into the leather. And please,
experiment with your shoes, have a little bit of fun and if you decide to try to
darken a pair of shoes or antique them, please by all means post your
photographs on Instagram and tag us with #hangerproject. In today’s video
i’m wearing my Chris Despos bespoke charcoal gray herringbone suit. As you
can see it’s a single button. I’ve got besom pockets with the pockets
tucked in just to add a little bit of sleekness and formality to this
particular ensemble. This is absolutely one of my favorite suits. It was the
first bespoke suit that I had Chris make for me. I’m wearing of course my
trademark a white charvet dress shirt with horn collar stays. I’ve got a white
a Simonnot Godard pocket square. My trousers are tabbed with flat pockets, a
single reverse pleat and they’re uncuffed, again, which i enjoy with all of
my more formal suits. And then today I’m wearing and my George Cleverley bespoke
burgundy pigskin Baron de Rede loafers. These are absolutely beautiful shoes. And
then my socks, I have my favorite pair of socks
which is my dark gray Kirby Allison sovereign grade small dot Melange
dress socks. On my wrist today I’m wearing my Chopard Perpetual Calendar dress
watch with the retrograde date and I’m wearing my black a crocodile strap. If
you enjoyed this video give us a thumbs up and please subscribe to our channel
and turn on your notifications by clicking the bell to the right of the
subscribe button so that you can learn whenever we release new videos. If you
have any questions or comments about anything we discussed on this video,
please ask them in the comment section below. And of course please visit, where we have the largest most comprehensive collection of luxury
garment care and shoe care accessories in the world, as well as, many other
incredible products for the well-dressed. And while you are there subscribe to our
newsletter to receive notifications of new product launches, promotions, as well
as, a weekly digest of all the videos we publish here on our YouTube channel. I’m
Kirby Allison, thanks for joining me.

39 thoughts on “How to Darken Leather Dress Shoes | Kirby Allison

  1. Very good video on a useful topic. Can I suggest taking the photo of your outfit against a more flattering background?

  2. Hello, Kirby!
    Thank you for your project it's very informotive for me as I'm kind of newby in quality shoes. Moreover I'm from Russia and the topic is not quite popular here so it's hard to find reliable information. Nevertheless I've found vlog of the guy who manages shoecare service. And he recomends applying Saphir Invulner (because of the weather condition and reagents on pavements during autumn and winter) before going with creme and wax. What do you think about it? I didn't see you mentioning this product. Thank you beforehand.
    Kind regards, Maksim.

  3. Kirby like the video as always. Your necktie I noticed is not for sale any longer is that something that will change soon? It's my favorite!

  4. Have gradually darkened a pair of mid brown shoes over a year in the way you have described, they look beautiful and completely unique to me. One of the joys of owning good quality shoes.

  5. Kirby, as always, I enjoyed your video. I have a pair of gray suede shoes that I feel are a little to light in color. Is there a way that I can darken them myself using the Saphir products? Or is that something only a professional should do? Thank you.

  6. Kirby do you ever get polish on your cuffs if so how do you get it out ?

  7. Just picked up my first pair of nice dress shoes: Allen Edmonds McAllisters in Bourbon. This channel will help me keep those shoes looking great for years!

  8. Kirby, thank you. This is exactly the process I’ve been curious about. I recently purchased a pair of Allen Edmonds Delray shoes from eBay. The color is light brown, or possibly walnut, and it’s a little too light for my taste. I’m excited to try this process on the shoes. Thanks for all the great videos and instructions.

  9. I love that you leave absolutely no stone unturned in your videos. I'm sure you're a busy guy, yet you make time to reply to many of the comments left by viewers. A very admirable endeavor, Kirby. Thank you so much for your work. I have purchased from The Hanger Project a few times now and have been thoroughly pleased each time. Your videos turned me on to Saphir products and I seriously won't use anything else now nor will I purchase them from anyplace other than The Hanger Project. Keep up the great work and for the love of God don't let anyone near the Goyard back there!

  10. Hi Kirby. I've been waiting for quite some time for your large horse hair brush to come back in stock. Do you have any enlightenment? Thank you so much for your high quality products

  11. Can you deliver this Polish dawn to Nigeria becos I don't see it in our store here. And please let us know if we can be sales partner of ur brand becos will we love to promote it here, lovely product u av and what doe's it takes to be partner? Thanks for ur reply.

  12. If you have no plans on making a burnished effect on shoes, what's the use of matching the pate de luxe color with the shoe just in terms of shining (not covering scuffs)? Wont the neutral color be more versatile to use for all?

  13. Hi I brought a shoe which is a size too big. I like the shoe. Pls let me know how to wear it?

  14. I am a long time customer of The Hanger Project, nice video! Oh and that Goyard case is beautiful

  15. Hi Kirby. I really love the eloquence of your presentation.
    Thank you as always for your informative videos! No question, Much love from Japan.

  16. i have a question Mr Kirby, should i remove entire old polish everytime i'm applying the new polish on the shoes to get them shine or just a bit of cleaning using leather cleaner and than apply the polish right away?

  17. I have a question, I have a pair of burgundy shoes I got online that are a little too dark than I thought they will be. is there a way to lighten them? the cap toe is black and it is too much :
    thank you a lot!

  18. Kirby, your videos are delightfully thorough, clever and well explained. I'd just like give you a tip to make it even more perfect if I may: as you know the word "chamois" is French and is pronounced [shamoa] (last "a" like "Allen") and not [shami] ; )

  19. The video is great but i didn't get the idea of you wearing a suit while doing this Btw thats a pretty nice suit.

  20. I used neutral polish on my newly bought leather derby’s. However they have turned darker and have lost their beautiful gradient light to dark shade.
    How do I get them back to their original shade?

  21. hi, what's the best method to darken these boots a little bit?

  22. I know you don"t advise DIY shoe dyeing, but for the foolhardy, can you please advise best dye/polish color to change tan leather shoes to burgandy? Thanks.

  23. Awesome demonstration. Looking at a pair of double strap monks but the color is not quite what I want. Very light tan like the ones in your video. The result is exactly the color I'm looking for. Reddish brown.

  24. I appreciate the video, but this guy looks like he is trying to hard to appear sophisticated.

  25. I always apply my pigments and dyes while wearing a white Charvet dress shirt & bespoke

    charcoal suit.

  26. I would like to darken & add tones of orange to a handbags coral trim. Is there a color you’d recommend that may help bring the coral (with pink tones), to more of a burnt orange?

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