Jane Winkworth

Love your shoes September 02nd 2014

Since I first started my long career in shoe making over twenty five years ago - it has never ceased to amaze me at the complete lack of attention many women pay to the care of their shoes - sometimes shoes that have cost very large sums of money.

In the early days when, I was often to be found working in the stores myself - chatting to customers or having meetings - I would notice time and again the terrible state of the shoes that came through our doors and I felt very strongly that as I loved my beautiful little French Sole shoes so much, I wished that the customers who were buying them from me, would nurture and treasure them - and so an idea was born.

I have always known that the beautiful Italian leathers we use at French Sole have come from young animals, goats and sheep and calfskins which are all carefully tanned and treated in a long process which involves great attention and skill by artisan craftsmen. This insures that the skins are supple, soft and will easily absorb vegetable dyes which is preferential to the aggressive chemical dyes used in China on tough cowhide which is used on all Chinese made footwear and the reason why we have never, ever had our shoes made anywhere other than in ethical European factories.

However, because of the nature of the delicate and beautiful skins that we use - it is absolutely essential that from the moment a customer purchases her shoes, she must start to care, protect and moisturise them in just the same way that she will protect and nourish her own skin.

I will always recall a manicurist in Paris who told me that I should treat my hands in exactly the way as I treat my face - with constant daily attention and using only the very best products! The same of course applies to the leather on shoes.

I researched the commercial leather care products available in the market - mostly stocked by shoe stores and always the same silicone based products giving an instant fix and a horrible false “over shined” plastic look and decided to embark on a journey to produce some products that will embrace the depth and beauty of genuinely fine leathers whilst giving them complete protection from damaging weather systems - either hot and dehydrating sunshine or everything that cold and damp British winters throw at our treasured shoes and bags.

I was adamant that the products should be absolutely ethical, green and completely bio-degradeable and also be as natural as possible whilst giving all the nourishment and protection that I give my face and hands every single day of my life.

I spent years researching, asking questions, visiting factories and pharmaceutical laboratories, talking to podiatrists, chiropodists, beauty and fashion editors and countless shoe manufacturers and the message I kept getting was that early protection against not just the elements of the weather but most important of all against that terrible unspoken word in smart company “SWEAT”!

Yes it is the millions of tiny sweat glands in our feet producing salty sweat all day long that is the absolute number one sworn enemy of genuine, real leather and is often the reason why an expensive luxury shoe will look worse after a few months of wear than a very much cheaper copy - because the copy is unlikely to have genuine real leather linings and insoles!

Finally I came up with my three gorgeous “pamper Kits” for your leather shoes. The first is a brilliant rain and stain repellent which once sprayed over the shoe will protect against all but the very worst that nature will throw at it - spray inside and out for a perfect result. Then, for battered old shoes that have not been so well treated, I have developed a unique deodorising anti-perspirant protection moisturising refresher spray which will instantly hydrate, plump and rejuvenate even the saddest of footwear and then for suede and nubuck skins a brilliant vitalising cleaning block and brush which will lift the pile and remove grease and dirt before you spray with the Protector Spray to keep them looking as good as the day they were first bought.

The scent took months to develop, particularly for the Renewal and Refresher spray which also doubles as a deodorising anti-perspirant - what sort of smell would appeal to everyone and offend nobody ? I favoured a floral, fresh smell but in the end settled for a fragrance that is almost early morning, English Spring garden after a shower - gentle, slightly mossy a tiny amount of tuberose but overall the smell is fresh and gentle and in no way overpowering - everyone adores it thankfully.

Well of course the proof is in the using and so far these products are flying off the shelves and customers are raving about them - in fact so much so, that I have decided to embark on a new collection of Foot Care products to complement them - so back to the drawing board!

Finally, I would like to say congratulations to the winner of last month’s raffle competition who is Nicola Arthur - well done Nicola and enjoy your shoes, scarf and lovely book - I know the author of the book will be sending you a message too, so well done and thank you for reading my blog end entering a raffle which far exceeded my expectations and attracted several hundred entrants! This month, I would love to share my wonderful products with you and so I have six complete Pamper Kits to give away, containing all three of these unique and magical Love Your Shoes products. If you would like to win a set to keep your French Sole’s looking fresh and fabulous, stay tuned to our French Sole Facebook and Twitter pages for this month’s competition!

Categories: Fashion

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Charities Jane supports:

The Royal ballet school English National Ballet Starlight ACCA The Royal Marsden Havens Hospice