Cobbler-Fixing-HeelThis article is part of a series on footwear care and maintenance and deals specifically with professional repairs and recrafting. For specific information on shoe maintenance and cleaning, click any of the following links:

Repairing Shoes Or Buy New Ones?

If there’s a question we get a lot, it’s something along the lines of, “My current dress shoes are in rough shape. Is it worth it to repair them, or should I buy new ones?”

If you like your shoes, you should at least explore repairing them as an option. If you aren’t crazy about them -perhaps you’ve outgrown the style or they were never that comfortable in the first place- then you should go ahead and buy something new.

With that said, we have gone on and on about how buying high-quality shoes makes for a superior long-term investment. Shoes with Goodyear welt construction in particular are relatively easy to repair, and the beauty is that the cost of doing so is often a fraction of that of a new pair of shoes of similar quality.

A good rule of thumb is that if your shoes retail(ed) at $150 or more, you should explore repairing them as an option before getting rid of them.

Typical Repairs & Average Costs

There’s a lot that a competent cobbler can accomplish. The most common repairs for men’s shoes are listed below. Pricing is an average that you’ll find in the United States. Some repair shops may be more or less expensive, some may cut you a deal based on how many pairs you bring in at one time, and that sort of thing.

Most services below should include a full polish and clean-up of the upper. This is standard practice for cobblers.

  • New heels: $30
  • New soles: $35-$40
  • New soles & heels: $60-$75
  • Add Vibram rubber soles: $30-$45
  • Heel & toe taps (not recessed): $10-$15
  • Indented toe taps: $25
  • New leather insoles: $25-$35
  • New leather heel liners: ~$30
  • Leather cleaning & reconditioning: ~$20
  • Stretch width and / or vamp: $20
  • Waterproofing/Scotchgard: $5

Truly excellent cobblers are a bit like magicians and can make seemingly fatal issues go away elegantly. If your dog chewed the back of your oxfords or your driving loafers toes have been beaten up by the concrete, it’s worth at least asking your local cobbler if anything can be done to save your shoes.

How Long Should Shoe Repairs Take?

Tan-Shoe-Being-Machine-BuffedOn average, it’s good to budget about a week for shoe repairs, not including weekends and holidays. You may want to add a few days to this if you’re dropping off four or five pairs of shoes to be worked on at once, especially if the shop is more of a mom-and-pop operation.

Certain jobs like non-indented taps and polishing can typically be done while you wait as they don’t require major surgery to complete.

Find A Good Cobbler & Listen To Their Advice

First, a bit of vocabulary.

cobbler is a person who repairs and recrafts shoes. A cordwainer is someone who makes shoes.

With that out of the way, a cobbler is to your shoes what a tailor is to your suits. A good one has a ton of experience with shoes and will give you an honest assessment of your needs based on how your shoes look. Use referrals from friends and Yelp or Google reviews as a way to vet cobblers.

For example, lots of folks assume they’re going to need full reworks of their shoes when, in fact, they only need new heels and a polish. If your cobbler is trying to sell you on a wide range of services, ask why (s)he thinks certain work needs to be done. If they can’t give you a good answer, find a different cobbler.

Be sure you talk to your cobbler about any issues you’ve had with the shoes you’re bringing in to be worked on. On a case-by-case basis, many cobblers are able to customize the fit of a shoe in the same way that a tailor can tweak your jacket

Brand-Specific Recrafting: Is It Worth it?

Certain companies like Allen Edmonds offer in-house repair and recrafting services for shoes that carry their brand name. Is this worth it, or just a marketing gimmick?

Shoes-Needing-SolesWe firmly believe that if a company offers in-house repair services, you should turn to them first before going to an outside cobbler whenever time and budget allows. Why?

There are many reasons, but a few that come to mind quickly are as follows:

Original materials will be used: These companies tend to stock extra parts specifically for future repairs. This is particularly valuable if you liked the look of an outsole’s color or some other hyper-specific aesthetic aspect of the shoe.

Staff knows the product more intimately: If a company has been making your model shoes for twenty years, then that means they have twenty years of experience repairing that shoe specifically. This knowledge goes a long way in terms of shortening turnaround time and maximizing quality of work.

Improved tracking of your repair: Retail footwear companies tend to have more robust inventory tracking systems in place, and this applies to their repair programs. It’s a lot easier to get a status update on your job when it’s been scanned into a computer system at each step of the process as opposed to having a guy rummage through a massive pile of seemingly disorganized shoes.

Easier recourse if something goes awry: Nobody’s perfect, and mistakes happen. If your expectations were somehow mismanaged, your shoes lost or irreparably damaged while in the company’s hands, or something else went wrong, you have an entire customer service department to help you out. If your shoes are still being made brand new, it’s likely that you’d simply receive a new pair of shoes for your trouble.

Can Sneakers & Casual Shoes Be Repaired?

Athletic shoes and sneakers can be repaired by good craftspeople. Because these shoes tend to use more glue and less stitching when they’re manufactured, they’re more difficult to repair and are thus more expensive. Talk to your cobbler directly about the work you’d like done and get a custom quote.

Conclusion: The Joy Of Repaired Shoes

Various-Shoemaking-ToolsLet’s be clear about something: there is obviously joy in buying new shoes. Heaven knows that we’re massive fans of having a robust footwear collection, and the only way to do that is through acquisition.

Still, nothing will bring a smile to your face quite like getting a compliment on your “new” shoes when you know that they’re actually ten years old and you only spent thirty bucks to get them shined and re-heeled. It’s like you’re in on a juicy secret that no one else is privy to.

We hope you found this article helpful and informative. For more on proper shoe care you can visit one of the pages below:

You can also learn more about men’s footwear in general by going to our shoe home page.