I’ve had this idea for a pair of derbies for over a year I believe, and now they’re finally here.

Andrzej Olender from The Shine kindly offered to paint the shoes for me for a reduced price.

I’m not a big fan of derby shoes, with two notable exceptions. One: suede split-toe derbies. Two: this kind of smooth, sleek two or three eyelet ones with plain toe. So when I saw Yanko 377 over at Patine.pl (one of the blog’s sponsors) I felt this nagging feeling that yeah, I’m going to need a pair of those sooner or later. I also knew it was possible to order shoes that could be later hand-painted, so I did just that.

That’s because I’ve met Andrzej from The Shine before, and I had a chance to see some of the things he’d done. I knew he could make this pair of shoes special, and I thought it also to be a nice opportunity to test this service myself.

When the shoes first arrived, this is how they looked:

White unfinished leather, a blank canvas. I discussed the order with Andrzej: I wanted the shoes in mid- to dark brown, perhaps darker at the toe, with those marble-like irregularities in colour I had seen in his portfolio, like here and here. The light brown was too light (I have shoes like this), the blue was too daring; I wanted something that would be interesting up close, but rather subtle, so that it wouldn’t focus all the attention on itself immediately.

So I shipped the shoes to him, and waited patiently. I wasn’t in a hurry anyway. After about a month and a half the shoes came back to me – and they were beautiful.

You can see plenty of photos of them on Andrzej’s instagram. I’ll show you some photos I’ve taken myself.

The patina is marvellous, and the shoes were painted with a great attention to detail. Nothing is left unfinished, the colour transitions are smooth and subtle, the marble-like irregularities that blend several warm shades of brown are amazing. Even the sole looks great (though the effect here won’t last):

For those wondering how to take care of shoes like that: the paint gets deep into the leather, so there’s not much risk of damaging the patina during regular shoe care. I’m going to use the same products I always use – cream for most of the shoe and wax to mirror-shine the toes. Because I don’t want the patina to fade, covered in pigment from the shoe care cosmetics, I’m inclined to use neutral ones.

Here, before taking the pictures, I just buffed the toes with a few layers of Saphir Mirror Gloss, nothing else.

I do wonder, of course, how the shoes will age. So I’m curious to see how they look after a year of wear, or three. Well, if the blog is still around by then, I’ll surely let you know. But right now – I’m extremely satisfied with the result, and I can recommend The Shine as someone who can bring your shoe-related ideas to life.

Yanko 377 hand-painted by The Shine. Base price for painting a pair of shoes is 350PLN.