How to Care for your Louboutins?
What is the best way of looking after your Christian Louboutin red lacquered soles? Popular methods include applying TOPY, Vibram, Mirror soles or Clear Sole Protectors, all of which are marketed as a solution to either preserving or protecting red soles. This post will explore the most popular methods of sole care including prevention, protection and resoling / refurbishing.
Louboutin Sole Care Options
You’ve just purchased your Piggalle Follies or maybe you’ve already scuffed the soles. Either way at some point in your Louboutins life you’ll most likely consider the need for sole care.
Currently there are several options in the market that cater towards preserving and protecting Louboutin red soles – the most popular include Vibram, TOPY, Mirror and Clear Sole Protectors.
And of course theres also the option to wear your soles naked, let the natural red finish fade and worry about repainting / servicing your Louboutins at a later stage.
Scuffed Louboutin red soles – to repaint, repair or add sole protectors?
TO PROTECT, PRESERVE OR GO NAKED SOLE…
Before we begin weighing up the available options for your red soles, it is important to make a distinction between three different red-sole options. That is of sole protection, sole preservation and naked soles.
Sole Protection – Red Half Rubber Soles
Sole protection refers to applying permanent half rubber protectors to your soles in order to protect the underlying leather. This procedure needs to be done by an accredited shoe-maker or repairer ideally with experience in working with designer footwear.
The general process involves sanding back the leather soles a few millimetres before sticking a layer of rubber over the top, smoothing and applying an edge-finish / stain to the outer rim of the soles.
The three most common materials used for this work include TOPY, Vibram and Mirror soles.
Sole Preservation – Clear Sole Protectors
Sole preservation refers to applying temporary clear plastic additions to your soles that do not require any modification to the underlying leather. This procedure can be done DIY and does not require any professional assistance.
Multi-packs of self-stick half plastic soles are available to purchase from online retailers. Application is straightforward and involves following the manufactures instructions to stick the clear protectors to the red soles.
While pre-cut plastic soles can be purchased from a retailer. Recent trends for preserving red soles include cutting and sticking on iPhone screen protectors.
Leave Naked – Repair, Repaint or Resole later
Other than sole protection and prevention strategies, there is also the option to leave your red soles naked. That is to not apply any protective layer / covering over your soles. This leaves your red soles to wear naturally over time.
This option is typically chosen by those with the a desire to wear their Louboutins as is and worry about a repair at a later stage.
Red Vibrams (Sole Protection)
Vibram is an Italian manafactuer of rubber soles that offers a variety of protective sole options including a red sole protector specifically designed for Louboutins. These half rubber soles are only 1mm in thickness and are made to be applied by a shoe-maker or repairer to the bottom half of the soles.
The modification process involves lightly shaving off the red-laquered finish from the bottom of the Louboutins before sticking the rubber with an adhesive. Done correctly, red vibrams should be flush with the rest of the soles.
While this process adds a thin layer of rubber to the front half of the soles, there are several benefits to adding Vibrams to your Louboutins.
The main benefits of rubber as opposed to leather soles is its superior durability and anti-slip qualities. Leather soles are susceptible to leakage and wear, which can affect the structure of the rest your shoes. Having rubber applied early to your soles will hold your shoes in good stead for a long time and preserve your investment.
If you’ve ever worn leather soles you’ll understand the hazards they pose. By having Vibram rubber half soles installed on your Louboutins you’ll increase your surface traction and greatly reduce the risk of suffering a fall.
At $40 – $65 per pair the cost of resoling or having half rubber soles applied to your Louboutins is great value considering the benefits above.
Despite these benefits, a problem with protective soles is that applying them correctly is a skill. Unfortunately there are not many shoe repairers with the expertise to handle designer shoes.
You therefore risk damaging your new shoes when handing them over to a cobbler. The obvious solution is to find a reputable business or repairer who offers a guarantee on their work.
Another disadvantage is that applying half rubber soles arguably detracts from the aesthetics of your Louboutins. The red laquered stain needs to be shaved off and replaced with 1mm colour-matched rubber.
However, if the procedure is done correctly and the rubber is flush with the existing soles and edges properly finished, this should only really be an issue for the most devote Louboutin purists.
Pros – Permanent, Highly Durable, Excellent Value, Protects your Investment, Reasonable Aesthetics, Anti-Slip
Cons – Workmanship Sensitive, Aesthetics disliked by Purists
Red Topys (Sole Protection)
TOPY is a french company that like Vibram manafactures 1mm half rubber designer soles specifically for Louboutins. The materials and the process of applying TOPY is very similar to Vibram (see Vibrams above).
Therefore instead of repeating the pros and cons above, we’ll do a brief comparison between the the Vibram and TOPY red soles.
The average customer would be right in their observation that there is little difference between Vibram and TOPY designer red soles. Both shades of red closely resemble the Louboutin sole and the pre-cut rubber is 1mm thickness – either version could be applied to your shoes interchangeably with excellent results.
If we were to be picky however, apart from the Vibram vs. TOPY brand marks, the TOPY sole has a more orangey shade. The Vibram more closely reflects the Louboutin red and has a slight edge in colour-match.
If you have a choice between TOPY and Vibram for your Louboutins, we’d therefore suggest the Vibram based purely on colour-match. Vibram rubber also has a better reputation for quality, however this also makes Vibram sole protectors marginally more expensive due to the cost of material.
In saying this, you can’t go wrong with either TOPY or Vibram red half-soles as an addition to your shoes. Both provide slip-resistance and long-term value in protecting your red soles.
Pros (vs. Vibram) – Similiar Long-term Value, Aesthetics and Thickness (1mm), Cheaper to Apply
Cons (vs. Vibram) – Slight Orange Tone, Inferior Quality of Rubber
Red Mirror (Sole Protection)
The red mirror sole is another type of half rubber sole protection. This has been engineered by the Italian footwear materials manufacturer Casali. These rubber half soles are 1.3mm in thickness and have a shiny mirror-like red surface.
The procedure for applying the Casali mirror protector soles is the same as for Vibram and TOPY. This option is therefore also workmanship sensitive with the quality of application and finish dependant on the skill of your shoemaker.
The mirror-like aesthetics of this sole is meant to be a point of strength when compared to the matte coloured Vibram or TOPY sole additions. The Casali is marketed as an elegant alternative that provides all the same anti-slip and protective qualities of its half rubber counterparts.
While designed for aesthetics, the red mirror soles look rather tacky when placed on your Louboutins. In our opinion this is because the material tries too hard to mimic the original Louboutin sole but falls short of being an exact match.
The reflective appearance of the sole also makes it more noticable when worn, which is not neccessarily a good thing. For these reasons we choose not stock the mirror soles at our workshop.
Despite the materials shortcomings aesthetically, the mirror sole is still a good alternative to Vibrams and TOPYs for long-term protection of your soles. You may even prefer the mirror-like aesthetics.
A final note is that the price for applying mirror soles to your shoes is usually more than Vibrams and TOPYs due to the higher cost for the material.
Pros – Permanent, Highly Durable, Excellent Value, Protects your Investment, Anti-Slip
Cons – Slightly Thicker (1.3mm), Questionable Aesthetics, Workmanship sensitive
Clear Sole Protectors (Sole Preservation)
Clear sole protectors are transparent plastic films that are marketed as a military grade solution for preserving the red bottoms of your Louboutins. Protect My Pumps, 3M and Zagg are some of the more popular invisible clear sole protector products marketed specifically for Louboutins.
The soles are made to be applied DIY-style (you won’t need a shoe-maker) with application being fairly straightforward. The steps for applying involve cleaning the soles, tracing the sole shape, cutting out the traced part, peeling off the clear sole protector and finally sticking to your soles whilst smoothing out any air bubbles.
Clear sole protectors relatively affordable, easy to apply and aesthetically pleasing as they conserve the red lacquered look of the sole. The aesthetic features of the material are well-marketed and appeal to women looking for a way to conserve their valuable red soles.
While clear sole protectors have obvious aesthetic benefits compared to TOPY, Vibram or Mirror half rubber soles, this often masks some of the underlying issues with the material. These issues relate to long-term value, injury risk and damage to your soles.
The main criticism of clear sole protectors is there long-term value. It needs to be emphasised that these are not a permanent sole protection method and need to be replaced with each wear. The adhesion of the protector to the sole is only temporary and will peel away with prolonged exposure to the elements.
This means that you’ll need to continue to repurchase clear protector soles and at $139.99 for a 20 pack (from Protect Your Pumps) this is not at all cheap. Compare this to having a permanent half rubber addition to your sole for $65 that lasts several years and actually prolong the life of your shoes.
Add to this to the fact that clear sole protectors provide no anti-slip protection and actually increase the chance of an accident occurring. The non-grip surface is extremely dangerous and poses a hazard particularly when worn in a social situation.
The clear protector has also been known for peeling away the red lacquered finish of the soles when taken off. This typically occurs when the clear protector is worn for too long or placed on the sole incorrectly, which eventually causes the red paint to strip.
The benefits of clear sole protectors as the most aesthetic option are outweighed by the impracticality of re-applying the material, the reoccurring costs for new protectors, the slip hazards posed and possibility of damage to your shoes.
Pros – Aesthetics, Easy to Apply (DIY)
Cons – Temporary, Poor Value, Reoccurring Costs, Not Anti-Slip, Strips Red Finish
Wear Soles Naked (Service Later)
The final option is to wear your Louboutin soles as is and allow natural wear to take its course. With prolonged wear the soles should begin to scuff and parts of the red finish will wear away. The time for this to occur will depend on how often you wear your shoes.
When you decide to get the soles looked at your first preference might be to resole your Louboutins so they look exactly the same as the original. Unfortunately Louboutin does not offer a resoling service.
The official Louboutin website simply states – “the red lacquer sole will wear off with use of the shoes” and provides some general advice on taking care of your Louboutin shoes.
Instead Christian Louboutin recommend seeing a leather professional or shoe-maker for any repairs or refurbishing.
Resoling Louboutins to a factory-standard is a difficult task for even the most skilled shoe-makers. A more realistic and cost-effective option is to either restore the soles or add half sole protection to your shoes (see TOPY, Vibram and Mirror soles above).
In regards to restoring the soles, repair by painting is a popular option. This requires the soles to be built up with leather, smoothed and the colour-matched red finish reapplied. If you opt for repainting, this will need to be continuously reapplied as the red finish will eventually wear from the soles again.
Sole protection also involves building up the bottoms again with leather before applying a layer of half rubber (TOPY, Vibram or Mirror) and refinishing the edges of the soles. Unlike repainting this half rubber soles only need to be applied once.
Finally it should be noted that there are DIY options for red sole repainting but we’e never recommend these. Reapplying paint to your own soles will cover the scuffs but the finish will look terrible.
If the soles have been worn in they need to be built up, smoothed before the paint is applied. This can only be done by a shoe-maker or repairer.
Pros – Preserves Aesthetics Temporarily, Allows Time to Weight Up Options
Cons – Risk of Slipping / Damaging Soles, Repainting Soles is not cost-effective
The Verdict: Louboutin Sole Care Options
So what is the best option for caring for your Louboutin soles?
After exploring each option in-depth, it’s clear that currently there is not a perfect solution on the market for your red soles. Each option has pros and cons which should be weighed up depending on your individual circumstances.
If longevity and value is what you’re after than you can’t go wrong with one of the half sole protection options – TOPY, Vibram or Mirror Soles. These are by far our recommended choice and the best investment you’ll make in your Louboutins.
The clear sole protectors while aesthetically superior are not a practical solution for your soles. These are expensive (reoccuring costs), hazardous and potentially damaging to your soles.
Another option is to wear your Louboutins in before deciding to have your soles repainted or resoled with half rubber sole protection.
You then get to enjoy the red-laquer finish of your new shoes before deciding on whether to service or move on to a long-lasting half rubber solution.
With over 60 years as an established destination for Melbourne’s shoe repairs, all our cobblers are professionally trained within our workshop. We offer all aspects of shoe repairs, alterations and restorative work on leather. Get in touch with one of our friendly team members today.