The best shoes for nurses require constant up keep, but busy nurses who care for patients have little time to toil over the scuffs and stains that inevitably appear on their initially pristine uniform shoes. “The problem with white shoes is two fold, said Gene Burten, president of Burten Leather and Findings, Los Angeles. “White shoes tend to get dirty, and scuffed easily. It’s a problem of cleaning and restoring.”
Moreover, with nursing shoes making the crossover from function to fashion, retailers can expect to dispense an extra dose of shoe-care advice to Florence Nightingales and fashionistas alike.
Kevin King, the marketing product manager for Kiwi Brands Inc., Douglassville, Pa., recommended a three-step process that included: cleaning and conditioning, polishing and protecting. He suggested that smooth leathers be cleaned and conditioned with a leather lotion followed by a heavily pigmented shoe polish such as Kiwi Shoe White. “Polishing white shoes can be tricky,” he admitted, “many finishes tend to cause chalkiness, cracking or peeling.”
In the final step, protecting, King noted: “the more you protect, the less you have to clean and polish.” He also encouraged protecting the shoe at the time of purchase and after every six to eight wearings.
Quality of Care
Three-step process not with standing, many firms expressed enthusiasm about the increasing variety of shoe-care offerings. Donald Kanners, vice president of Sales for Cadillac Shoe Co., Livonia, Mich., recommended: “any leather cleaner followed by a refinisher” to replace color. “A lot of the time people look at their shoes and say, `they’re dirty,’ when in reality the finish is scuffed,” Kanners said.
Kanners suggested a foam instead of a liquid refinisher, because “liquids tend to be thinner in consistency and leave a dull, chalky finish.” He recommended Cadillac’s White Refinishing Foam, which can be left with a soft finish or buffed to shine.
On the other hand, David Shinder, president of Collonil Europolish, Seattle, suggested Collonil’s Combi-White liquid, which “has a lot of pigment and can be used on all smooth leathers.”
Angelus Dry Cleaner/Spot Remover was recommended by Burten as an effective agent for removing dirt and marks from leather uppers and rubber bottoms. “If the color has been eliminated,” Burten said, “it should be replaced with a high-end liquid polish such as Punch Leather White or Tana Ultra White.” According to Burten, sprays and leather dyes are not necessary if a suitable liquid polish is used. He also suggested a shoe protector with a waterproofer. “If your shoe is in good condition, you just need some cream polish to add shine.”
Erwin Bauer, operations manager, at CS Pierce Co., Brockton, Mass., touted the firm’s Total Leather-Care system. Bauer suggested using leather cleaners to “get the dirt off before you cover up the marks.” Bauer also recommended Superwhite Golf and Athletic Dressing as appropriate applications for nursing shoes. “The dressing takes the place of polish,” he said. “It’s ease of use; you just flip it up and put it on.”
Despite the vast selection of products, shoe-care firms emphasized that many of their white-shoe products are environmentally friendly. “Collonil is known for its environmental safety and recyclable packaging,” said Shinder.
Kanners added, “Our foam is both water resistant and nontoxic…vital in a hospital.”
Service Personnel is Properly Outfitted from Head to Toe
Doctors who perform organ transplants and maids who tidy up posh Manhattan penthouses require different levels of education and training, but those in both professions must wear the right shoes and apparel to get their work done comfortably and safely. Catering to nearly every worker who dons a uniform, brothers Nowrang “Bal” Balgobin and Vasistha “Ram” Ramsamugh have been outfitting service-industry employees with their stores’ vast selection of occupational footwear and apparel.
To keep their more fashion-conscious customers happy, the brothers make an effort to buy nursing shoes that adhere to the latest styling trends. Many of the retailer’s styles from Nurse Mates, Rockers, Fly Flot and Rohde incorporate comfort features such as crooked toes, grainy leathers, and stretch materials. (Imagine if Prada designed for the cast of ER.)
But medical personnel and the style conscious are not the retailer’s only customers. Those employed in the janitorial, security and restaurant trades shop the stores, too. “There are more places to eat in New York City, and the people who work in them need nonskid shoes,” said Bal. “We carry Rocky’s styles for the restaurant trade.” Chefs, like doctors, seem to favor rubber clogs, he added.
Beyond the individual customers who patronize B&R, the retailer also has contracted to supply uniforms and shoes to professional schools, including Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School. “About 1,000 students a year buy their clothes from us,” said Bal. For Peter Kump’s students, the retailer supplies chef coats, pants, towels, aprons and shoes. But more glamorous industries, including movie and television productions, also have discovered B&R.
Recently, the retailer outfitted some of the cast of Random Hearts, a new Harrison Ford movie. B&R also supplies New York-based soap operas such as All My Children with costumes. Even the participants in Greenwich Village’s annual Halloween parade, especially those dressing as doctors, shop the retailer. Bal said he hires other sales associates to handle the Halloween traffic.
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