Menswear

Rubber on My Soles

I have been – and remain – an advocate of putting plastic taps under the toes and the heels of shoes in order to preserve the soles and extend the overall life of the shoes. I’ve been doing it for years, and it has worked very well.

Every time I bring a new pair of shoes to the cobbler to get “tapped,” he points at the leather sole and asks if I want rubber, which is a thin protective layer of rubber adhered to the leather sole. When I tell him I want taps, he asks again: “You sure you don’t want rubber?”

His obsession with rubber instead of taps under the toes made me wonder: Was rubber really the right way to go? After a little research, I learned that there is no definitively right or wrong way with this. Several variables like weather, climate and type of wear come into play, all detailed very nicely in an article I found on The Shoe Snob.

When I got new loafers for the summer, I decided to try the rubber option with my usual plastic taps under the heels. Between the purchase of the shoes and the writing of this post, it’s only been about a month and it seems to be working out just fine. In fact, in the interest of preserving the soles and practically eliminating the need for expensive re-soling altogether, the thin layer of rubber makes a lot of sense. Taking it even further would be a combination of the rubber and taps under the heel and the toe. We’ll see.

For now, I’m pleased with the rubber option so far.

8 Comments

    • George Reply

      Take it back to the cobbler to be replaced. #maintenance

  1. Derrik Ollar Reply

    I just passed a beautiful pair of wingtips to one of my sons that I purchased 25 years ago and then immediately put rubber skins on the sole (I have probably replaced the skins 3 times since then). I always cared for the leather with saddle soap, lotion and new polish, and they still look fantastic thanks in part to their skins preserving the original soles this whole time.

  2. George, I did the same in the years gone by when I worked for a US bank in the city of London, I had Church’s and Cheaney’s last an age doing the above. I now work for another well known US company, better known for their individual and eclectically dressed staff, fruity t-shirt aside off course!

  3. Hi George,

    I have a few pairs of shoes that can use the rubber and plastic taps on their soles. Do you have any recommendations of reliable cobblers in the city?

    Many Thanks,

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