Tomorrow I’m heading to Bolivia and New York for a fortnight. Both will be wet and, this year, New York seems intent to keep snowing until some point in Summer.
Last night I was packing with that weather in mind and grabbed my Swims out of the wardrobe to take with me, so I thought it would be a good time to write about them, for those who haven’t yet heard of the them.
For anyone with at least a reasonable collection of shoes, you’ll appreciate the desire to keep them in good condition. Unfortunately, one of the quickest ways to destroy good leather-soled shoes is to get them wet.
If you don’t have shoes with Dianite soles (a Brittish made, non-marking rubber sole, used by all major handmade shoe makers) rainy days present a challenge, in that options are usually limited to either ruining/damaging good shoes or wearing shoes you don’t care much for and are, therefore, willing to destroy, while possibly taking a good pair with you to change in to once you’ve reached where you’re going. For most, that means the office. Rubber soles are a third alternative, but leather feels so much more right for quality shoes. With rubber soles, the rubber covering all that leather on a permanent basis limits the leathers ability to breathe and recover after use. I’m all for wearing-in shoes and not worrying if they get scuffed or marked here and there, but there’s a line between worn-in and ruined, with rain usually helping that line to be crossed. That said. if they’re only going to get a bit wet (no major puddles to negotiate and for a short period of time) then good leather soled shoes will be fine, just give them plenty of time to dry out over the next few days.
In the early 2000’s, Norwegian born Johan Ringdal came up with a solution which solves the problem of ruining good shoes. Swims “Galoshes” are rubber overshoes which easily slip over existing shoes, covering all but the laces, forming a seal between the shoe and the outside world. Rain, snow and most acts of god are kept away from the leather, allowing shoes to stay dry and protected in the most foul weather, while the rubber sole provides a significant increase in grip on ice and wet paths.
When worn, they’re more subtle than you’d think and the different colour options allow them to blend into your shoes and outfit. I own them in black and brown, as the other colours (except, perhaps, navy) are too loud for me. They don’t need to match your shoes perfectly, they’re not a fashion accessory, just a practical means to an end in protecting an investment.
When the warmer months come around, it’s always nice to start wearing more relaxed loafers again, like Tod’s or Carshoes, as well as colourful suede’s. The issue here is that with Summer, water usually comes in to play. If and when you’re in that situation, either on a boat, at the beach or just washing the car, loafers stand a good chance of being destroyed. Water hates suede and calf leather. Boat shoes from the likes of Sperry, whilst sturdier than almost anything you’ll find, still suffer once wet.
I’ve taken my Swims loafers through the Amalfi coast, Santorini and the South Pacific, without them missing a beat. They’re designed to get wet, dry quickly and Johan’s foresight has seen their loafers created in more classic colourways (as well as louder ones). Brown loafers will work with most colours you’re likely to wear, but navy works very well with white chino’s and crème’s etc. Whilst white loafers would be too much almost anywhere else, given the fact that you’re likely to be in the sun and around water, they will work well with Navy chino’s or shorts.
Take some time to work out which colours suit you best, the main point is that there is a valid alternative to damaging nice loafers when the tide comes in.
Main Image, courtesy work.no