The cost of a shoe repair

Shoe repair pricing explained

How much should you pay for a shoe repair? The cost of a shoe repair depends on several factors including the quality of materials used, expertise of the cobbler / shoe repairer and the type of job(s) your shoes require. This post provides a brief overview of the shoe repair industry including price-determining factors, common types of repairs and prices you should expect to pay for common jobs.
 

The cost of a Cobbler

 

Whether your the owner of a pair of luxury heels, handmade brogues or sentimental boots owned by your great grandfather, at some stage you might contemplate the possibility of a repair. In this case you’ll need to utilise the services of a shoe repairer also known as a cobbler to bring your shoes back to their former glory.

But before finding a good cobbler to assist with a repair, you may want to know what kind of costs you’ll be up for. Depending on the business you choose to utilise there will be noticable variations in the standard of service, quality of workmanship, level of personalisation and the selection of materials offered.


For most services you’d expect the final cost to be proportional to the level of service and quality of delivery. Unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth for the shoe repair industry…

 

Due to the loss of many generational craftsmen over the years and the decrease in demand for such services, the industry has a perhaps a justified reputation for shoddy work and uninspiring levels of customer service.

 
 

 
A Cobbler can help rejuvenate your worn shoes but how much should you pay?

 

In short, your experience won’t alway equate to a value for money proposition.

If you’re thinking of getting your shoes repaired it is likely that they are of some sentimental value, so having an idea of the factors that influence the quality of the work and how they relate to the cost is important.

 

Related Posts – What happened to the Old-School Cobbler?

Six Price-determining Factors to consider

 

Not all shoe repair services are the same and there are several factors that you should consider when weighing up the cost. These relate to things such as the quality of materials, expertise / skills of the cobbler and reputation of the business. The most important price-contributing factors that you should critique before approaching any cobbler or shoe repair business are summarised below

Standard of Workmanship

 

What is the standard of workmanship to expect? Is the business just a local shoe repair shop servicing everyday shoes or does the business specialise in higher-end items? What are the reviews of the business like? Are some too good to be true? Ask different retailers and friends for their recommendations on reputable and long-serving cobblers within the area.

Customer Service / Personalisation

 

How well does the business communicate with customers and do they offer any bespoke services? In what way are the shoes kept in the facility are they thrown around the workshop or protected from collateral damage. Theres really nothing worse than coming to pick up your designers shoes only for your cobbler to fish them out from a disorganised mess behind their counter!

Expertise and technical skills

 

How well-equiped is the business to handle more complex repairs? Is it a one-man band or are there other experts to draw on. More difficult jobs will usually require the input and technical skills of multiple leather specialists. Be wary of single operators promising more than their capabilities would allow, chances are you will get work at a sub-par standard

Location of business

 

A central city location will often coincide with higher rents, which means a higher price for your shoes repairs. However, a closer proximity to corporate and business hubs also may indicate that the business has a greater amount and variety of jobs offering specialist departments for certain services. If the business has been around for a long time, more than likely they’ll be more expensive but reliable and trustworthy.

Materials used

 

If you want half rubber / protective soles does cobbler use TOPY, Vibram or SVIG? Do they stock different colour and style varieties? Similarly is the leather locally sourced or a cheap imitation leather from overseas. The quality of the materials used is important as this is what is going to be incorporated into you shoes and influence the aesthetics of the repair

Guarantee on work

 

A final price-determining factors, does the cobbler offer a guarantee on their work? This is an important safety net in case you don’t get the result you were expecting, the job is botched or your shoes are irreversibly damaged during the repair

Heel Tip Replacements

 

The rubber tips on stiletto heels are subject to large amounts of force and will require replacement every so often. The need for repair will be evident by the appearance of a metal ‘spike’ and the loss / damage of the rubber stopper on the ends of the heelpieces. This repair is not a complex job and simply involves replacement of the rubber tips – this can usually completed as a while-you-wait service (approximately 10 – 15 minutes).


While you can purchase DIY heel tips and repair kits, its always advisable to use a shoe repairer for both safety and aesthetic reasons. This also prevents any unnecessary damage to your heelpieces (which are more costly to repair!).

 

A standard charge for heel tip replacements ranges from $15 – $35 (per pair of heels). A higher price typically accounts for differences in finishing of the heelpieces, alignment and shaping / smoothness of the new rubber stoppers. Always ask a shoe repairer to replace both rubber stoppers together even if one is still intact. This is to avoid any balance issues that can compromise the structure of your heels.

 

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Half rubber Sole Protection

 

Half soles (also known as TOPYs or Vibrams) are a cost-effective option of repairing worn leather soles. The repair involves two steps (depending on the amount of wear) with the cobbler having to build up the soles before applying protective rubber layers over the top. The rubber essentially seals the leather, providing protection, weathering and reviving the worn soles.

 

There is often uncertainty about applying half rubber soles or TOPYs to shoes. However, when done correctly half rubber sole protection is undoubtedly the best way of increasing the longevity of your leather soles

 

The repair is not complex but can be time intensity when done properly, with extras steps such as building up the leather, customising the rubber and applying the edge-finish to the soles. Some cobblers may skip on any of these steps in order to bring down the cost. The cost of applying half rubber soles ranges from $40 – $65 based on these factors. Its always advisable to get sole protection / rubber applied prior to wearing your soles in to avoid more expensive repairs at later stages.

 
sole protection mens

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Full Resoling

 

If your soles are beginning to feel particularly spongy or there are visible holes within the bottom layer of your shoes, a full resole may be the best option for repair. This type of repair may be completed on either leather or rubber soles (pre-moulded or flat rubber).

The differing qualities of the rubber / leather available means there can be a larger variation in price with resoling work. For example, imitation leather soles can be bought from Asia for as little as $10 a pair, at the other end of the spectrum JR oak-tanned leather soles from Germany may cost up to $40 a pair. In general, better quality leather soles are longer lasting, offer greater aesthetics and comfort.

The procedure for sole replacements involves removing the original soles, including the heels (if present), trimming and shaping the new soles and using a combination of reglueing or stitching to install the newly crafted leather or rubber soles. A full sole replacement can take several hours to complete for a single pair of shoes with the price ranging from $120 – $250 depending on the materials and finishing involved.

Tip – If you would like to save on resoling work, request a half leather / rubber sole replacement. In most cases only a half sole is actually required because it is usually the toe-half of the soles that wear down. The half of the shoe to which the heel is attached to and the mid-sole typically remains intact meaning only the front-half of the soles need replacement.


 

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Stretching

 

Stretching leather shoes is the most common method of resizing. This is typically accomplished with mechanised equipment that can alter the width of a shoe up to half a size larger. The process takes a few days with the shoes sitting on the stretching machine. Expect to pay from $35 – $50 for this service for a pair of shoes

 

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Verdict: When is a shoe repair worth the cost?

 

As most shoes are now manufactured overseas its not uncommon for the cost of repairs to exceed the original value of a pair of shoes. In general, cheaply made shoes are not only too expensive to repair but in many instances are unable to be repaired.

For well-made or luxury shoes a good rule of thumb is to repair at up to 1/2 the original value, anything above this would be a repair done purely for sentimental reasons.

While you shouldn’t be discouraged from shopping around for the best price, it is worth remembering that there a widely varying levels of quality within the industry. In fact, the lack of skilled craftsmen within western cities means that many shoe repairers these days are transient and only train for a few months prior to entering the trade.

If you’re keen to re-invest in your shoes be sure to check the reputability of a cobbler or business as you don’t want to be risking your shoes with unqualified tradesmen that provide no guarantee for their work.

 
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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.