Hi, I'm Kirby Allison founder of The Hanger Project and today I'm going to be showing you how to both condition and polish your crocodile and alligator shoes, or exotics. These reptile skins are generally very durable, but they do require regular conditioning in order to prevent them from drying out and having the scales crack. I'm going to be using the Saphir Reptan, which is a water based conditioner. The little bit of waxes use a lanolin oil, which comes from sheep in order to condition the crocodile. Then, if necessary, you can use a pigmented cream polish such as the Saphir Pommadier cream to add pigmentation if there is any type of discoloration or scuffing. These shoes are pretty good so I'm probably not going to use that. The Reptan provides a nice shine, but if you do desire a little bit of a higher gloss shine on the toe box, what I'm going to recommend is that you use the Saphir Mirror Gloss because of its lower concentration of solvents. What that's going to do is allow you to really focus on building up the hard wax content in order to produce a shine without actually penetrating the leather or the crocodile as much as a normal Pate de Luxe wax polish would.
The shoes that I'm polishing today I actually inherited from my grandfather. So being that they're 30 to 40 years old they're actually in pretty good condition. It's just a testament to how long a pair of shoes can last if you're taking care of them properly. The only thing that I would say about these is that I did replace the sole and had them re-soled by a shoemaker whenever I first received them, and you can see that there is one scale that is actually cracked that occurred just because my grandfather probably wasn't conditioning these properly. But since in my care I think that they've been looking great and they're really special to me. I enjoy wearing them and it's important that I take care of these properly.
First we're going to condition the crocodile using Reptan. Reptan is a water based conditioner that uses lanolin oil in order to condition the crocodile or alligator. It contains a low concentration of waxes so you're still going to get some wax protection, but not as much as you would get from a wax polish. Now you could clean the shoes first using the Saphir leather cleaning soap but these are in pretty good condition so I'm just going to skip that altogether in order to reduce the amount of wear on these shoes. Use a cotton chamois.
There's a few things that are different when conditioning an exotic from a conditioning like calfskin. The first thing is that it's really important that you allow as much time as possible for the crocodile to absorb the Reptan. What I like to do is I like to apply a pretty thick layer and then allow as much time as possible, so either allow the shoe overnight to absorb that, or at least at a minimum a few hours. I've applied the Reptan conditioner to these shoes and now I'm going to allow them two to three hours at least- or overnight if you have the time, for the conditioner to dry. Once it's fully dried then we'll be able to buff it off with a horsehair brush.
After you've allowed the Reptan conditioning cream to dry, the next step is to then brush off the cream residue using a shoe shine brush. I really recommend if you have it, a slightly stiffer bristled brush in order to get as much of the polish and the contours and grooves of the scale pattern. I am using one of our pig bristle brushes, but if you have a horse hair brush that's fine, you just might need to do a little bit of extra brushing. I'm going to brush the cream off until it develops a soft shine with brisk, back-to-back motions.
Now that the Reptan is brushed off these crocodile shoes, you can see that they have developed a nice, soft shine. If you're happy with this level of shine and if you don't need any color then you can finish here. But these shoes have a few scuffs and other kinds of cosmetic things where I think that I do need to introduce pigment and so at that point the next step is to use a pigmented cream polish such as the Pommadier cream polish in order to get that pigmentation. I would only recommend doing this if you feel that your shoes need pigment because otherwise you would want to avoid using something designed for calfskin on an exotic leather. If you do it only whenever you need it, I think you're going to be fine.
What I'm going to do is to apply this with a cotton chamois. This is a dark brown for these dark brown shoes, and again because this is a product for calfskin, I'm just going to apply it relatively sparingly. The purpose of using a pigmented cream polish is the recoloring. You've already conditioned with the Reptan so we're just trying to renew the finish and conceal any types of scratches and scuffing- this is not for conditioning. I've applied a very light coat of the Saphir Pommadier cream polish to help us recolor. I'm going to let this dry for a few minutes and then we're going to buff it off. The Pommadier cream polish dries a lot faster than the Reptan. I just left that on the shoes for a few minutes and I can see that it's dry, so I'm just going to buff this off with the same pig bristle brush that I used for the Reptan.
Now that the Pommadier cream polish is buffed off, you can see that these shoes have a nice, soft shine. Depending on your preference for shine, this may be perfectly adequate, but if you do want a higher gloss shine than what you can get here alone, then you're going to need to use a wax polish and that's what we'll talk about next. As I mentioned earlier, if you'd like a higher gloss than which you're able to get from just the Saphir Reptan or the Pommadier cream polish alone then you really do have to use a wax polish. For exotics especially, I recommend using the new Saphir Medaille d'Or mirror gloss. The reason is because it has a much lower solvent concentration or solvent ratio than a standard wax polish, it's just going to penetrate the skin much less than that Pate de Luxe and you really want to avoid that as much as possible since the reptile leather is so different from calfskin.