Can I resole these shoes?
September 18, 2012 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Can these shoes be resoled by a cobbler?

I have two pairs of flats I adore. Can they be saved, or are they trash?


One is from Payless and the other a cheap J.C. Penney brand I think, which were purchased only three months ago, but they are very comfortable, cute, and versatile.

Thanks in advance!
posted by two lights above the sea to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total)
You could certainly try it, but I know my cobblers would probably refuse to do it because they'd have to replace the soles and that would run around $40 a pair. I know this because I have a beloved pair of Nina ballet flats (leather soles) and they asked me whether I really wanted to go ahead with the repair. You may want to get a quote beforehand or see if there are any DIY rubber sole options that you could handle yourself. They do look like great flats!
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:57 PM on September 18, 2012

You can do that, but it's probably not worth it. My shoe repair guy tends to tell me that repairing cheap shoes is a waste of money - they don't have the internal structure to give the repair stability, and financially isn't worth it. (How much do flats from Payless cost? $20? And you're going to spend at least $10 to have them resoled? Not worth it.)

Also: just take them to your local shoe repair place and ask. They'll probably give you an honest answer.
posted by Kololo at 9:12 PM on September 18, 2012

These shoes have glued soles, soles that have been worn through. A cobbler isn't going to be able to "replace the soles" the conventional way. A stitched shoe has a multi-layer sole - one layer which is stitched to the shoe and other layers which are glued onto it. To replace the sole, the cobbler strips off the glued layers and puts new material on. If the stitched layer is worn through, the shoe is almost irreparable, as a new stitched layer would have to be sewn onto the shoe using a last/shoe form. Now, it's possible that a creative cobble will be able to try sanding down the sole and gluing a topy (protective rubber layer, comes in varying thicknesses) onto the soles, but the shoes would still have a big structural weakness and would probably wear through again fairly quickly. The best repair would be to cut/sand a section of rubber to fill the hole and blend into the rest of the sole, then glue a topy over that. But I don't know if any cobbler would try - it might even be outside the skillset of some.

If it were me, I'd shop for more flats and only if I could not find suitable ones would I repair these - it will be spendy and a short-term solution. If you get cheap flats that you like, perhaps you could take those in to the cobbler for a topy right away - that would prolong their life. Maybe you could DIY a repair on these and wear them around the house as slippers?

Sadly, it's really difficult to repair non-stitched shoes, and even stitched shoes that are Blake-sewn (the quicker and lighter Italian method) require a special machine to resole. Goodyear welted shoes (this kind of welting is most common on better men's shoes and pretty much impossible on delicate flats) is the best kind for repairable shoes.
posted by Frowner at 2:42 AM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

Alas, no, not without spending an unreasonable amount of time and money. I tried to do this with an inexpensive pair of boots that I really liked, and while the repair looked fine it wasn't durable and never really felt right. Granted that things are different for men's shoes, but if you want your shoes to be repairable then you have to spend more than $20 at the outset to buy a shoe that was designed to be repaired. A $200 pair of shoes has repair-ability built-in, because the owner expects them to last.
posted by 1adam12 at 4:50 AM on September 19, 2012

I also want to add that women's shoes generally are rarely made to be repairable. Even nice ones. Especially ballet flats. Nice ones will take longer to wear out, that's all. And past a certain point (which IMO is the J Crew level) more money is not buying more durability; it's just buying fancier materials and more au courant styling. Probably the best thing you can do, ballet flat-wise is get a topy put on the sole after the first couple of wears (to make sure that the shoe isn't going to fall apart and isn't totally uncomfortable).

If I may lament briefly: this is why I don't understand or buy women's shoes. With men's shoes, you can spend ~$250 (or even less if you really search the internet - I've seen welted shoes on sale in the mid-low hundreds) and get shoes that are structurally sound and will last a while before needing any repair. With women's shoes, you can spend $500 and get something that will wear through quickly or whose heel will break. Almost the only really high-quality women's shoes out there - again IMO - are made by companies that primarily make men's shoes. The women's line from Crockett & Jones, Birkenstocks (which are ugly, yes, but good quality), Dehner...Allen Edmonds used to have a women's line, but they don't any more. Some women's boots are welted - Frye, I think, and Fiorentini & Baker.
posted by Frowner at 6:53 AM on September 19, 2012

At this point, they're looking pretty far gone. The wear extends beyond the sole. Caught earlier, it might have been more viable for a cobbler to at least do a quick and dirty cemented-on repair, assuming the rest of the shoe is intact. Which is a perfectly acceptable way to extend the life of any shoe that simply has a worn sole.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:57 AM on September 19, 2012

OK, sounds like overwhelming opinion is that it would not be cost effective. Thanks for all the advice, and yes, will look for better shoe options in the future.
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:54 AM on September 19, 2012

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