1) Give your shoes time to breathe
The old housewife’s myth that one should never wear the same leather shoes two days in-a-row does have some truth to it. Giving a day’s rest to your shoes will allow any dampness to dissipate more thoroughly (on the inside and outside) and the leather will be more durable if allowed to “breathe” and dry out regularly. That said, I have been wearing the same pair of Atheists solidly, day in day out, for 6 weeks (at time of writing) and the condition of the leather inside and out remains very good. Granted, my summer-sweaty feet are darkening the lining leather and insole a little, but that's pretty normal and the inside remains as soft as ever. So, while our business brains urge us to recommend you buy 2 pairs of Atheist shoes and rotate them daily, we’re optimistic your shoes will live reasonably long lives, even if worn constantly.
2) Don't be toooooo aggressive with the shoes, but then no need to be tooooo careful either
The leather we're using is pretty strong and long-lasting. But it is a soft, fine nubuck, rather than a heavily treated, smooth and hard leather, such as that found in a football boot... and it may show up scratches and scuffs more readily if you acquire them, although structurally the shoe should be ok. So, we'd urge you not to go sliding down mountainsides or play soccer in the shoes if you want them to remain good-looking for longer, however many people have been hiking in our shoes with no damage to them and the Atheist team in Berlin have been deliberately trying to undertake as much strenuous activity in our shoes as we can, with only one permanent scuff being acquired by one of us who scraped their foot along the side of a wall whilst cycling drunk... a rare mishap indeed!
3) Cleaning the shoes
Your atheist shoes are made from a very soft and fine leather which may give a first impression of being very difficult to care for. But, while care may not be as easy as for shiny leather sneakers, which can be rubbed down with a wet cloth, we haven’t found it too difficult to keep the shoes looking respectable.
A Dry Sponge
A lot can be achieved by gently wiping the surface of the shoes with a dry sponge, like the common kitchen sponge pictured above. This can smooth out any dusty streaks and give a more even appearance to the leather. And it may be that you need never do more than that, in particular with the darker colours.
Any grubbiness will be more apparent on the lighter colour shoes, such as cream, yellow, and pink. And while we do like the aesthetic of atheist shoes once they’re well worn and a bit dirty, you may like to give them a more thorough clean every now and then.
Specialist Cleaning Products
If dirt or stains are proving resistant to a simple wipe with a sponge, you might like to try a specialist shoe cleaner.
For the last few months, whenever any of our shoes have gotten especially dirty (e.g. after a night at a music gig) we’ve been using this neutral shoe-clean liquid, in a bottle with a built in brush, by the German brand “Solitaire”. HOWEVER, upon reading their website, it turns out that we perhaps shouldn’t have been using this simple cleaner as it contains citrus oil, which they say may not get along with soft leathers like ours. So we are wary that this cleaner may lighten the colour of your shoes a little over time.
The Solitaire website recommends a number of more sensitive products, perhaps better fitting for the soft nubuck of our shoes. For example, a special cleaning eraser...
These erasers work quite nicely to remove specific grubby patches, with no need to apply water. You can buy Solitaire online, e.g. here, although such erasers will probably be available in your region under a local brand name.
Mr. Clean Cleaning Erasers
We recently began using a cleaner that may be more readily available than the specialist shoe cleaners described above. We discovered it in Germany, under the brand name of "Mr.Proper" (which is Mr. Clean in the UK and USA). It's a "Schmutzradierer" or Cleaning Rubber and we have an inkling it may be the same produce as a "Magic Eraser" in the UK and USA.
Simply moisten the rubber and gently wipe the shoe clean, afterwards using a common towel to wipe it again and remove any residue from the rubber. We haven't yet used this produce over a long period of time, but we're very optimistic about it and haven't yet seen any adverse impact on quality or colour of the shoe leather.
4) Pre-emptive care & protection against water
Finally, some of you have asked if the shoes can be worn in the rain and if it is worthwhile treating them with a protective / waterproofing spray to extend their life...
Well, the shoes can certainly be worn in the rain or snow.... we get plenty of both in Berlin, so our shoes are regularly exposed to water. Regular wettings may slowly over time make the leather a tiny bit tougher, but it causes no serious damage and, in our recent experience of a thunder storm, our feet remained completely dry inside the shoes, despite the streets being covered in 2 inches of water. Also, our shoes will keep your feet nice and warm in the winter, whilst allowing them to breathe in the summer.... an advantage of using two pieces of all natural leather and no synthetic layers in our production.
It can do no harm, however, to spray or "impregnate" your shoes with a gentle protective spray before wearing them, and, although it is not essential, re-spraying them every few weeks may help to protect them. Solitaire offer this product, which we have found quite effective, alongside their "Nano" spray, which works a treat.
And below is a picture of a protective spray from the brand Collonil, which we have also found to be pretty good.