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Allen Edmonds Bourbon Color--My Journey From Happiness to Disappointment & Back

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    Allen Edmonds Bourbon Color--My Journey From Happiness to Disappointment & Back

    This is going to be a multi-part post with a self-created happy ending of the shoe type--not the massage type.

    Back in January of this year (2018), I purchased a pair of Allen Edmonds McAllister wingtips in bourbon on sale for a great price--$245, I think. I loved the color, but then was warned of the problems with this color. "Tiger striping" they said--My research indicated that you can find lots of complaints all over the internet about AE and problems with the bourbon color. My understanding is that AE applies some type of extra layer of finish over the shoe that is kind of like a paint and that it wears off and sometimes is not applied evenly.

    I initially loved the color, even though I have not generally been a fan of brown shoes until more recently. And the AE McAllister is one of the rare models that come in size 12.5, which always fits me better than 12 or 13, so they are very comfortable for me as well. And stylish, I think. I really did love these.

    But, it didn't take long for the problems to show up. I love putting a great shine on my shoes. But over a few months, as I worked on putting a great shine on these, to my disappointment, the color started coming off (see photos below). Also, by the way, I wasn't entirely happy with the workmanship on these--I've noticed on some of my AE shoes (I have four pairs), there's this lump or clump or some type of imperfection where the sole meets the upper. It's very sloppy workmanship and looks ugly close up.

    So, here is the problem with the color coming off. Hopefully you all can see, I didn't take a lot of pictures of the color problem:




    Here's the problem where the sole and upper join, just on one shoe:



    And here they are all shined up, but if you look closely, you can see how the color has started to come off on different areas, even after just few layers of shoe shine.



    I suppose I could have returned these and AE might have replaced them or refinished them, but I'm a "Do-it-yourself" type of guy, so I decided to come up with a fix I'd be happy with.

    As I said above, ultimately, there was a happy ending, but it was quite a valuable learning experience AND it cost me a little money.

    But I'm very happy now. You're going to have to wait for my story of trials and errors getting there, starting in the next part on this thread. But I think it might be a helpful and interesting read for you shoe aficionados.
    WHY ARE THE GUYS IN SUITS HERE? HAS SOMETHING GONE WRONG?

    #2
    that looks SO SO different than my old bourbon Daltons. i'm assuming you've polished them a bunch?




    i think what you need to properly maintain that finish is not polish, but their ae bourbon shoe cream! it would even out the finish some, but i'll be honest it's hard to replicate the way they look new.



    the bourbon is a combination of the black cream and a walnut shoe. they almost always use a black laquer on the edging on the sides of the sole.



    I've since stripped them of black polish now, and i've been masquerading them as walnut now :-D

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by evanparker View Post
      that looks SO SO different than my old bourbon Daltons. i'm assuming you've polished them a bunch?




      i think what you need to properly maintain that finish is not polish, but their ae bourbon shoe cream! it would even out the finish some, but i'll be honest it's hard to replicate the way they look new.



      the bourbon is a combination of the black cream and a walnut shoe. they almost always use a black laquer on the edging on the sides of the sole.



      I've since stripped them of black polish now, and i've been masquerading them as walnut now :-D
      Oh, this is just the start of the story--my first attempt at fixing them was using a combo of bourbon and black shoe cream. Wait until you see what else I went through.

      Unfortunately, I don't have photos of the shoe cream attempt at fixing.
      WHY ARE THE GUYS IN SUITS HERE? HAS SOMETHING GONE WRONG?

      Comment


        #4
        I have a pair of bourbon loafers from AE, and they are the only AE shoes I've had trouble with. The color on one immediately lightened up, while the color on the other seemed to actually get darker. Within a month, the shoes looked like I had two different color loafers -- one almost the color of a burnished brown, and the other like a walnut with black cream on it. I tried polishing them both with bourbon cream, tried burnished brown on the light one, tried walnut on the dark one, but nothing worked. Went to the AE store, and they claimed to have never seen anything like it. They said there was a chance they could fix it if I sent the shoes in for the full recrafting service where the finish is stripped off completely and reapplied. Last I checked, that was like $165, and I only paid ~$275 for the shoes to begin with (big yearly sale). I've been pretty disappointed with these loafers, and I have demoted them, for the most part, to nicer dinners that I know will end in drinking and bar hopping. These are the reason I did not buy any of the heavily discounted bourbon shoes when they discontinued the color.

        Comment


          #5
          +1 for getting a pair of tiger striped Mora2.0’s. Oh well. It’s nothing that people notice where I work.


          Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

          Comment


            #6
            Part 2 of How I Fixed my AE Bourbon Color Shoes

            Alright, so I explained above about the problems I had with my AE McAllister shoes' bourbon color coming off when I polished them. I did some research and found out that this was a problem a lot of people had.

            My first attempt at fixing them was using bourbon shoe cream and black shoe cream to restore some of the color. I tried blending in several layers of these shoe creams. I don't have photos, but I was not really happy with the result.

            Someone posted someplace that the bourbon color was made by taking AE walnut shoes and applying some type of lacquer and that if you took the lacquer off, you'd have a pair of walnut color shoes. I like the AE walnut color, so I thought I'd give it a try. I purchased some saddle soap and Saphir Renovator and used those to strip the lacquer off.

            Did I end up with walnut color shoes, you might wonder? Bhahahahahaha. No. I wish. I ended up with a weird looking shoe color that was much lighter, but still with lots of what some of you call "tiger striping."

            Here's what I had:



            Still unacceptable to me.

            Further research led me to find some threads about how people with "corrected leather" or "book binder leather" stripped that finish off their shoes using solvents and had some decent natural leather they ended up dying. By the way, after applying the harsh solvents, I made sure to apply a leather conditioner a few times and let it soak in really well.

            So, I tried it, and the result was this:



            Okay, so I thought this was pretty damn cool. The result reminded me of a pair of shoes I had in the early '80's that I loved and always got a lot of compliments.

            However, I also thought that they would not be appropriate to wear with suits and that was the primary purpose of these shoes.

            Therefore, the next step was figuring out how to get some color back on the shoes. Which was an adventure in itself and took me two tries. Or was it three?

            At any rate, I'll explain that in Part 3 of this adventure.
            WHY ARE THE GUYS IN SUITS HERE? HAS SOMETHING GONE WRONG?

            Comment


              #7
              I realized I never finished this thread. I'm going to jump to the end now, but I will say that the picture below, which are the same shoes, and what I happen to be wearing today, started out as AE bourbon color.

              This finished product was NOT the only iteration, by the way--there were two failed attempts at dying them. One of the products I used turned out to be more paint than dye and was totally unacceptable.

              I'm quite happy with the final result which is a two-toned shoe that is Angeles's dark brown dye (so dark it almost looks black) for the dark color, and about a mix of 2/3 English Tan and 1/3 Burgundy and I guess is closest to a mahogany. Nobody else will be wearing this exact shoe, I can tell you that for sure.

              But I think AE should offer the McAllister in a two-tone.

              I may get around to posting the photos of the not so satisfactory attempts as well, eventually.

              But all's well that ends well.

              WHY ARE THE GUYS IN SUITS HERE? HAS SOMETHING GONE WRONG?

              Comment


                #8
                I admire the work you've done.

                That said, the colors in your pictures do not look anything like my bourbon Strands. Unless you correct the color of your photos, and we view them with a color corrected monitor, we will never see what you see.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by rdsmith3 View Post
                  I admire the work you've done.

                  That said, the colors in your pictures do not look anything like my bourbon Strands. Unless you correct the color of your photos, and we view them with a color corrected monitor, we will never see what you see.
                  Well, the final color wasn't meant to look like the bourbon color. The third photo in the first post is as close to the original color that I have. The problem was that the very first time I polished them, the bourbon color started to come off.

                  The first photo in the first post shows the darker color still left, starting to chip off and exposing the lighter color underneath. If you look at the row of perforations on the right, you can see how part of the row is dark and part is light.

                  Also, my understanding is that AE had two different colors they called bourbon. The one I had appeared to be painted or patina over walnut. My understanding is that the other bourbon was dyed.

                  Perhaps you have the other bourbon color?

                  For comparrison, here is the bourbon color I received when new, from the AE website.

                  WHY ARE THE GUYS IN SUITS HERE? HAS SOMETHING GONE WRONG?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by mebejoseph View Post
                    I realized I never finished this thread. I'm going to jump to the end now, but I will say that the picture below, which are the same shoes, and what I happen to be wearing today, started out as AE bourbon color.

                    This finished product was NOT the only iteration, by the way--there were two failed attempts at dying them. One of the products I used turned out to be more paint than dye and was totally unacceptable.

                    I'm quite happy with the final result which is a two-toned shoe that is Angeles's dark brown dye (so dark it almost looks black) for the dark color, and about a mix of 2/3 English Tan and 1/3 Burgundy and I guess is closest to a mahogany. Nobody else will be wearing this exact shoe, I can tell you that for sure.

                    But I think AE should offer the McAllister in a two-tone.

                    I may get around to posting the photos of the not so satisfactory attempts as well, eventually.

                    But all's well that ends well.

                    your finish shoes look more like merlot. Good job and how long does it takes you to the dye job?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Nice job. what products did you use to strip and refinish? What was the harsh solvent? the dye?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by jackbauer24 View Post
                        your finish shoes look more like merlot. Good job and how long does it takes you to the dye job?
                        I spent hours on this when you include all the stripping and cleaning and conditioning and so forth. But the actual dying took probably less than 20 minutes.

                        Here's my first try with a product that called itself a "dye" but was really paint. I was very unhappy with the result, but I did wear them one time in public just to be sure I didn't like them.

                        After that, I had to strip it off and start again:

                        WHY ARE THE GUYS IN SUITS HERE? HAS SOMETHING GONE WRONG?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by jackbauer24 View Post
                          your finish shoes look more like merlot. Good job and how long does it takes you to the dye job?
                          And the second try was this, which I more or less liked, but I stupidly forgot to dye the tongues. I don't know how I forgot, but I did. So, I decided to strip them again and start over, rather than just do the tongues. First, because I had custom mixed the dyes and didn't have an exact match; second, because I wanted them to have a bit more red in them, and third, I just wanted to see if I could do it.

                          WHY ARE THE GUYS IN SUITS HERE? HAS SOMETHING GONE WRONG?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Murph65 View Post
                            Nice job. what products did you use to strip and refinish? What was the harsh solvent? the dye?
                            Yes, it was harsh solvent, eventually. First I used saddle soap. After that took off as much as I could, I used paint thinner to get the first two finishes off. The really dark one, I had to actually use paint thinner AND then I used a solution of about 1/3 bleach and 2/3 water.

                            I used Saphir conditioning products between attempts. The leather seems okay. The dyes were Angeles. The paint that claimed to be dye was a Kaps product.
                            WHY ARE THE GUYS IN SUITS HERE? HAS SOMETHING GONE WRONG?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by mebejoseph View Post
                              Yes, it was harsh solvent, eventually. First I used saddle soap. After that took off as much as I could, I used paint thinner to get the first two finishes off. The really dark one, I had to actually use paint thinner AND then I used a solution of about 1/3 bleach and 2/3 water.

                              I used Saphir conditioning products between attempts. The leather seems okay. The dyes were Angeles. The paint that claimed to be dye was a Kaps product.
                              Thanks very much. Didn’t know leather could stand up to that. Sounds like you did a nice job offsetting the harshness with the Safir. Hope they hold up. It would be great if you could report back over time.

                              Comment

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