Like winding one’s mechanical watches, polishing one’s dress shoes is an old-school ritual that makes little sense to those who prefer the ease of strapping on a quartz timepiece or sending their footwear to the pros for sprucing up. But for those who appreciate those moments of interaction with your personal belongings, there’s something special about hearing that ratcheting sound as you turn a watch crown, or witnessing the leather of your shoes come to vibrant life again with some (okay, a lot of) buffing.
If you have always wanted to bring your own shoes to a mirror shine, but never had the time — well, these house-bound times offer the perfect window of opportunity to do so. Lack the tools? Look no further than the shoe-care kit assembled by John Chung, founder of Singapore’s only artisanal shoe shine bar, Mason and Smith. Everything here is done by hand, rather than the machines used by most shoe-care businesses. The winner of the World Shoe Shining Championship in London two years ago, Chung can give a dull-looking brogue a brilliant shine in 20 minutes — we know because he showed us when we visited him at his Club Street space last September — and few would know better what equipment you need to do the same.
In his Stay Home Shoe Shine Kit, you’ll find brushes, a cloth, a lotion, a cream, waxes, as well as shoe bags, a printed guide to shoe-shining and a video tutorial link. Available at www.masonandsmith.com, the set retails for $200 and includes complimentary contactless delivery to your door. According to Chung, you should give your shoes a light dusting every two weeks, touch them up with some product every four weeks, and give them a complete cleaning and polishing/waxing every eight weeks.
That said, the tools are only part of the story, of course. Perfecting the process takes practice, and Chung is frank that the uninitiated will probably take thrice as long to achieve Mason and Smith-type results. If they haven’t given up by then, that is.
Says Chung, with a chuckle: “We encourage our customers to do it themselves so they understand what we’re actually doing. The reason they pay for our services is not because they can’t do it themselves, but either because they cannot achieve that high shine that they want, or because they don’t have enough time. It might take them an hour to do what we can do in 20 minutes, but that’s because we have been doing this for a long time.”
The secret to achieving an award-winning shoe shine, notes Chung, is “patience. And practice — it’s like driving, you have to clock the mileage to get better.” Well said. And if all else fails, Mason and Smith is still offering its full slate of shoe-care services during this circuit-breaker period, with free pick-up and delivery, via its website and Android mobile app (an iOS version is coming soon).