How to Care for "Velvet" Finish Sauvage Leather
Leather comes in many different finishes, from smooth to suede to velvety. It's important to know how to look after each of these leather types to keep your shoes looking great.
Many of our shoes are made with what is called "Sauvage" leather, an un-treated, grain-dyed Italian leather with a soft and velvety feel. This leather is found on most colors of Bernadettes, Gibsons, and Tangos. See below for the full list.
Sauvage leather has a tendency to scuff and show scratches and marks. Some colors of this leather, such as tan, will show these marks more than other colors.
If you have a pair of any of these, please read on for special care instructions.
Cleaning Scuffs & Marks With Vinegar
1. Mix a little vinegar into water (1:3 ratio), then dampen your cloth and squeeze out the excess. Any white or spirit vinegar (5% acetic acid) will work.
2. Very lightly rub on and around the scratched area, using light circular motions. There will be a little dye transfer onto your cloth. Be sure not to press too hard or rub one area too much, or the area may be lightened permanently. Be careful not to oversaturate the leather.
3. Wipe off any excess water. Sauvage leather is absorbent and will darken when wet. Leave the shoes to dry - this can take quite some time. Do not use heat or place next to a heat source.
4. The leather will return to its normal color, and the scratches will be greatly reduced.
Which Shoes Have Sauvage Leather?
- Bernadette blue/black
- Bernadette cognac/black
- Bernadette tan/brown
- Bernadette tan/ivory
- Bernadette ivory/black
- Gibson green
- Gibson maroon
- Gibson tan
- Tango ocean
- Tango olive green
What NOT To Do
Like suede, Sauvage does not respond well to any oil-based polishes or waxes. We do not recommend applying shoe wax or mink oil to these shoes, as these products can irreversibly darken and stain the leather, and will also change the finish.
What To Expect With Sauvage Leather
Italian grain-dyed leathers are intentionally designed to show character in the leather and age through use. Velvet finishes like Sauvage are more susceptible to this because they do not have a topically-applied wax or finisher. As a result, scratches, marks, and rubs will not completely disappear. Lightly cleaning with vinegar will reduce them but not eliminate them.
What Happens If My Shoes Get Wet?
If your Sauvage shoes get wet, blot them with a clean cloth and let them air dry completely before wearing again. The leather will be darkened by the water, but will return to its normal color when dry.
How Can I Protect My Shoes If I Can't Use Shoe Wax?
Silicone sponges and sprays, such as the Angelus Water & Strain Repellant, do not adversely affect Sauvage leather. These will add a little shine but not remove the soft feel of the leather.
I Don't Like How The Finish Has Aged - What Can I Do?
A shoe repair shop that is familiar with this type of leather may be able to re-spray or re-color your shoes. Inquire with your shop beforehand.