Shoe trees, do they matter? Purchasing a pair of quality leather dress shoes is a serious investment, in your feet and yourself. You'll want them to last. You'll want to take care of them. Clean them. Polish them. Keep them dry. Etc. But shoe trees? What do they actually do, and do you really need them?
What shoe trees do
1. Absorb damaging moisture
Excessive moisture caused by sweat, no matter the quality, will cause the leather on your shoes to crack and the lining to rot over time. Airing helps a bit. But most homes have a relatively humidity (moisture in the air) that slows down the rate of evaporation. Cedar wood has a much lower moisture content relative to its fibre saturation, meaning your shoe trees will absorb moisture build up in and around the shoe much faster than simply airing them.
2. Maintains the shoe’s natural shape
Pressure, moisture and heat conspire to stretch the leather of your dress shoes after each wear. An important function of the shoe tree is to help the leather reform and maintain the shoe's natural shape. The spring heal will stretch the shoe flat and prevent the show from bowing as a result of wear. The cedar toe area will stretch the vamp out and prevent ceases. If you like your shoes crease free, shoe trees are an essential item.
3. Prevents shoe odour
In the prevention of shoe odour, there is no better wood than cedar. Shoe odour is the result of toxins caused by the bacteria on your feet bathing in the sweat that your 250,000 feet glands excrete. Cedar wood, it has been discovered, has an exceptional antimicrobial activity that kills anaerobic bacteria and yeast that live on your feet (and end up on your shoe). The essential oils in cedar also give off a robust but pleasant scent, which is great ballast against any lingering (or emerging) foot odour.
Worth the money?
Like any product, shoe trees come in many designs and costs. From $1.99 Ikea plastic "fantastics" through to designer shoe trees (that rely mostly on the wilful suspension of rational thought). For a pair of functionally sound, quality shoe (and boot) trees, which protect your kicks and extend their life, expect to pay between $25 to $70 AUD. Anything less and I'd be very focussed on quality; anything more and I'd be supporting high-end brands (unless of course they were bespoke).
Your shoe trees should last for many years. Infact, we guarantee our shoe trees against mechanical failure for life. That's decades of extending the life of your shoes and reducing the frequency and cost of replacing them. Your cost per use will also quickly become negligible. Say you purchase a pair of $60 shoe trees to go with your newly acquired Loake brogues for $500 - about 12% of total cost. Say also you wear your Loakes once a week for five years. The cost per wear is around $0.23. Or, if you use cost per days used, you're looking at $0.03 cents per day.
So shoe trees matter!
We say "yes", they do matter, regardless of the cost of the shoes. Using a shoe tree - be it basic, quality or lasted - forms an important part of your shoe maintenance ritual. It is an essential habit of the well-dressed man. Your shoes will simply look sharper, smell better and last longer.