Don’t call it a comeback: the timeless art of the shoe shine

Tieja MacLaughlin using Walter's Shoe Care products

This post was guest written by Tieja MacLaughlin

This week we witnessed history.

Yes, of course I’m talking about the Raptors (and Canada’s) first-ever NBA Championship.

And besides the obvious cross-country moment of triumph, a particular sub-culture of fans has also emerged into the spotlight.

I’m talking about none other than sneakerheads.


You’ve heard of them. The relatively unknown individuals that spend hours, sometimes even days, waiting in line-ups for the freshest new sneaker release.

Professional basketball is leading the way in fashion. And also lending a voice to an entire new, but not-so-new, breed of faithful fans.

What’s perhaps most impressive about sneakerheads though, is their level of care and attention to detail.

On the court, you’ll see athletes wearing their sneakers as a badge of honour. While court side, you’ll see fans sporting equally as impressive footwear. Everything pristinely polished.

While sneakers aren’t exactly my thing, women’s footwear in the form of heels, wedges, mules and boots, certainly is.

And regardless what shoe style is your favourite, one thing is for certain: those babies have got some mileage on them.

Your shoes have, quite literally, seen some shit.

books on ground shoes cellphone


I don’t know about you, but I wear my shoes hard.

I’m always on my feet, and I like to walk as much as possible (we all know it’s faster than sitting in Toronto traffic).

Which is why shoe care is such an important part of my weekly routine. On Sundays we shine.

Shoe shining has been a status symbol of royalty, a disciplined routine for military men and women, and an art passed down from father to son (and mother to daughter) for generations.

It exemplifies timeless quality and tradition. And in my mind, is ultimately a sign of respect.

When I walk into a meeting, I want to demonstrate to my colleagues and clients that I took the time to put myself together. Polished shoes leave a lasting impression, and give me a little boost of confidence.

Not to mention, taking care of your shoes increases their lifespan. Which in turn, saves you money.

I used to use good old soap and water on my shoes, but it wasn’t until I stumbled on a Walter’s Shoe Shine booth some years ago, that I realized I was doing it all wrong.

I had the most memorable shoe shine experience.

Not only were my shoes given new life as they were cleaned to perfection, but the care and passion with which the shoe shiner demonstrated his craft, was like nothing I’d ever seen.

After researching more about Walter’s Shoe Care, I discovered they’re a fourth-generation family-run Canadian business. Which is something to really be proud of.

They don’t do any of that gimmicky, salesy stuff. They just make genuinely great products, in time-honoured fashion.

That’s why I won’t buy from anyone else.


leather condition eco protect bottles microfibre cloth


  • Leather Kit (pictured above): the go-to package for all of my leather strappy’s and purses (that’s right, shoe polish isn’t just for shoes; it can also be used for backpacks and handbags).
  • Foam Cleaner + Suede Renew: the foam cleans your suede, and the renew has a tint of black colouring that covers up scuff marks to make them look brand new.
  • Clean Wipes: perfect to pack when travelling (can also be used to wipe your luggage).
  • Shoe Deodorizers: the only thing that will get the post-gym smell out of my sneakers (and trust me, I’ve tried everything).


Fun Fact: Did you know Walter’s Shoe Care is the exclusive shoe shine service provider of Toronto Pearson International Airport? Cue the Mad Men theme.



Tieja MacLaughlin sitting on stool

Tieja MacLaughlin is the Founder & Art Director of TIEJA Inc., a PR-minded creative house specializing in proactive online reputation management.

She develops creative strategies, designs content, and crafts memorable brand stories.

By promoting a proactive approach to digital media and online reputation management, she works with clients to share their brand story online.

Tieja MacLaughlin is a proud supporter of the arts, and of shoe shiners worldwide.

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