On Waterproofing Driving Shoes
Updated: Oct 8, 2022
I first heard of the now-defunct local shoe brand Manila Sole back in 2015. The homegrown yet short-lived brand sought to put a green twist to how it makes trainers by making use of old tires and conveyor belts as outsoles. Instead of going to the landfill, these rubber materials are given new life – combined with hip designs and the craftsmanship the city of Marikina is known for when it comes to footwear.
I purchased my first pair from the brand – the Rizal model in size 12 and in a black and charcoal gray colorway – in March 2015, during the MUNI Market Day in Pasig that year. My original pick was the all-leather Bonifacio model in black, but Manila Sole did not have a size 12 pair that time. Nevertheless, I was convinced to buy the pair as the soles were reliable enough for driving.
The pair lasted for a while because I only wore them on Fridays and weekends. Despite the practical and environmental benefits of the pair from Manila Sole, it was not without its flaws. The foam insoles were rather thin and wore out easily, most especially on the heel portion. I purchased insoles from True Value to resolve the issue, and it was good to go.
But aside from the insoles, the canvas uppers were rather thin – making them susceptible to water and other stains. The canvas material, which was rather flimsy, finally gave way in September 2016. Manila Sole also stopped its business operations around that time, so I was unable to buy a new pair to replace the old one.
Applying a protective spray to the Manila Sole canvas shoes played a key role in its longevity. Ideally, shoes should be waterproofed as soon as they are removed from the box if they are for everyday use. I used the Burlington Shucare Nano Waterproofer which I purchased from a mall near me. Prior to using it on these trainers, I used it on a pair of brown chukka boots I owned – with good results.
First, remove the laces and the insoles from the shoes – that is, if the latter is removable. Stuff the toebox and the inside of the shoes with newspaper to keep them in shape. If you have a shoe tree, all the better. Next, clean the shoes and make sure no stains remain. Any remaining stains will be difficult to remove once the shoes are waterproofed.
The waterproofing process is ideally best done outdoors on a hot, sunny day. Place the shoes on old newspapers to protect any surfaces. Spray the first coat all over the uppers, starting from the toebox and tongue up to the vamp (the heel) of the shoe. Repeat this process twice or thrice, and then leave to dry under the sun for an hour or two. Put the insoles and the laces back after an hour and you're ready to go.
Once waterproofed, the shoes will "resist" the liquid instead of absorbing it – what most would call the "lotus leaf effect." For shoes with minimal use, the effect tends to last a year. However, the Manila Sole trainers have seen frequent use since I purchased them. Thus, I repeated the waterproofing treatment as regular use wears off the protective coat.
And this concludes this entry from 2015 about my long-gone pair from Manila Sole. Until the next post.