Scooting & scuffing

Tips on whether to repair or replace the season’s most stylish accessories

Bruce Barlow, owner of BKB Leather, 811 Elm St., works on cleaning a suede shoe in his shop. Barlow says suede is especially difficult to care for and requires more maintenance because it is inherently spongy, unlike smooth leathers. Still, paying for cleaning and repair often weighs out over replacing your shoewear.

Suede boots, foreground, are especially in style at stores like Famous Footwear in south Lawrence.

A warm pair of boots is a fashionable-yet-sensible choice when facing the wintertime elements.

So is it better to restore them from last season or just invest in a new pair? If you do pull last year’s boots out of storage, they may need a little rehab from the past winter’s damage of snow, mud or salt before they’re made for walkin’.

Shelly Davidson, Lawrence, says she splurges on a new pair each year, although she knows it would be better on her pocketbook to try to spruce up her old boots.

“It’s hard to let the old ones go though,” Davidson says. “I keep them around even though I get new ones.”

Bruce Barlow, owner of BKB Leather, 811 Elm St., says it’s worth it to clean a favorite pair of boots instead of buying a new pair. Barlow says it’s important to store the boots in a moisture-free container during spring and summer months.

Barlow says if it’s basic monthly maintenance a boot owner is seeking, a professional isn’t necessary. He says his store carries cleaners and waterproofers that make it easy for the customer to do the upkeep themselves and for not too much of an investment.

Barlow sells suede and nubuck cleaners and waterproofers in aerosol cans. Salt and dirt removers run at about $10 a can and last for several years. Barlow stresses the importance of applying waterproofer to new boots before wearing them and applying cleaner to dirty boots before the mud and salt dry.

However, if a pair of boots has significant mud or salt damage, Barlow suggests letting a professional take over for more serious boot rehab. BKB Leather can do a full cleaning for $30.

“Our motto is, ‘If they fit, fix ’em,'” Barlow says.

Chris Stark, manager of Famous Footwear, 3230 S. Iowa, says the store’s top winter shoe product is waterproofer, which runs about $6 a can. The waterproofer provides a protective coating for suede and nubuck boots that keeps salt and mud from clinging to the material.

“It’s kind of our wonder product,” Stark says.

Stark says this year the store is filled with more suede boots than usual. Some boots resemble the popular Ugg boots, while others are more form-fitting to complement the popular skinny jeans and legging trends. Popular brands such as HotKiss, Skechers, Steve Madden and Bearpaw all have a suede or nubuck boot available this winter.

Jessica Holland, 15, Lawrence, says she has a favorite type of boot — mid-calf Bearpaw boots in light brown.

“I love this style because you can tuck your jeans in them,” Holland said while boot shopping with her father at Famous Footwear.

Holland says she always puts waterproofer on her boots, which she thinks helps them last longer.

“I’ve had this pair for two years,” she says, “so this year I’m getting a new pair.”