The other day I found a great pair of vintage shoes at my local thrift store, a pair of "Westbury" model monkstraps from Church's for $10. Best of all, they were brand new and unworn (I have no idea who donates unworn $600 shoes to thrift stores, but I'm not complaining).
Anyway, I've got about 20 pair of stuffy dress shoes, so I thought I'd take advantage of these to play around with "distressing" the shoes to make them more casual.
Here's what they originally looked like:
And then, here they are again after my distressing (I'll write below what I did to them:)
Okay, if you want to try this yourselves, you'll need:
1. Cheap bleach (I say "cheap" because better, more expensive bleaches have lots of guards/safeties for color in them. You'll want the cheap bleach that, if it touches your clothes, will leave bright white spots. This will bleach the leather.)
2. Shoe polish and shoe creams (I used some regular brown polish and some Meltonian shoe creams).
Basically, just stick the pair of shoes into a bucket of water with bleach in it. This will bleed out the color. Then, after that, apply bleach directly to areas where you want them to look more "worn" (on the sides, on the strap, etc.) From there, let them dry somewhat, then sandpaper the uppers and around the edges to make them look distressed. As well, bend the toe upwards to crease around the footbed.
When the shoes are dry (more or less), then use some of the shoe polish and shoe creams for color. I wouldn't apply the color evenly, so it looks more distressed/worn. After that, sandpaper some more, bleach some more, etc. It all just depends on HOW worn you want them. The better quality of shoe originally, the better/nicer the result.Higher quality shoes can take the abuse and still look nice. Thrift stores and vintage shoes are best for this, because it keeps you from buying a really expensive pair of shoes and then messing them up. But, you'll want to make sure the shoes have FULL-GRAIN leather (as opposed to the cheaper, plasticky corrected-grain of many lower priced shoes).
Have fun! Do this and save yourself from spending $900 on some Margiela's.