You ever wonder how you got into a certain hobby?
For me it’s the knowledge about and care for shoes. Rewind a few years back and I would not have given a toss about the quality of the shoes I bought. Nor did I really care about how I looked after them as I’d wear one pair for a year, all year until they literally died. No polishing. No conditioning. No care. Who cares. But then again, I didn’t care how I presented myself to others that much either.
One day at work, my colleague and I were taking note about one of our executive staff member’s interests in buying new shoes every term. We were oo’ing and ahh’ing about his new shoes from a distance like a pair of giggling girls.
However, it wasn’t until after one parent-teacher interview night when I had a chance to strike a conversation about his interest in shoes.
One of the brands of shoes he recommended to me was Crockett and Jones. He also showed me Kazuna’s website for custom order Japanese shoes (I’ll write about his services some other time). During this time, I had only just opened Pandora’s Box in learning about men’s fashion such as suiting, ties and cuff links. So hearing this recommendation to check out shoes that cost more than $100 held my interest and it was just something I had to have a look at.
In Sydney, the only place that retails Crockett and Jones is at Double Monk in The Strand Arcade. A couple of visits to the shop later and I walked out with a pair… that quickly turned to two… and then like five pairs before I knew it. The quality was nothing like the cemented crap I’ve been so used to wearing.
For the money I was spending all of a sudden on shoes, I just knew I had to learn how to take care of them well.
So I learned from talking to the guys at Double Monk who recommended all the Saphir Medaille d’Or stuff to me.
I learned from conversations with Andrew McDonald, an Australian shoe maker whose shop is next to Double Monk.
I learned from watching the Sydney Shoe Shiners do their stuff in the early days. I don’t go to them anymore after learning the craft myself with better quality products.
I learned from visiting the one and only artisanal cobbler in Sydney; Nathan Baxter.
With a bit of practice and the right gear, I gradually honed my skills of mirror shining to the point you can see a pretty high resolution reflection in the shoe. The satisfaction comes from knowing that you can’t get that level of class and shine from just buying a pair alone or paying some guy that rips you off for 15 minutes in a chair.
To be honest, I’m still learning.
It’s Not All About Me
This hobby has also grown into something about community and friendships, bonding over shoes.
I offer anyone in Sydney a shoe shine for a bit of remuneration. A few people have already taken me up on the offer and it’s been great fun talking about shoes and how to care for them!
Hit me up if you’d like a shine. I’ll even throw in a 20% discount code for http://www.trimly.com.au. I guarantee you’ll be smiling like I am below:
So what hobbies do you have an origin story for? What can you show for it?