How to Make Cheap Shoes Look More Expensive (Tip: Get Them Painted!)

Do it at this local shop.

Images via @toboxshoes

Images via @toboxshoes.

Two weeks ago, I posted a guide to buying designer bags on the cheap. One of the tips was to buy designer bags in trendy colors because they often go on sale and could be scooped up at cheaper prices. Their suggestion? Have these bags dyed professionally to resemble more classic carryalls. (To wit: A tie-dyed/graffiti Chanel bag might be of-the-moment now, but will look dated next year; a basic black version will never go out of style.) We here at Shoppist HQ thought this was absolutely brilliant.

And then, only days later, local men’s shoe shop ToBox posted a video on Instagram of owner Tung To artfully painting a pair of men’s shoes, sharing photos of the “before” and “after.” (Obviously, this was destiny.) Apparently, though it began as a hobby, the shoe expert offers artisan hand-painting services for leather shoes, bags and accessories to keep your goods looking updated and in tiptop shape.

Here’s the skinny: To uses color dye techniques (similar to factory finishes) that revamp your leather goods. The process takes about two to four weeks. To says that the coloring process works best when working from light to dark colors or when restoring shoes to their former colors. And to get the look, he uses lauded Saphir Medaille D’or products.

Shoes and bags generally start at $100; the price is dependent on shoe size and the extent of coloring. Seem pricey? Consider how much you save rehabbing your shoes instead of buying a new pair. It’s like getting new shoes without having to break them in. We’ll raise a brush to that.

The Details: ToBox, 25 South 19th Street, Rittenhouse; 215-644-9435.