CREDIT: AARON MARCUS SUTTON
Your hand hovers above your absolute favourite pair of Chanel heels. You’ve worn them to death, re-heeled them twice already and they’re covered in rain stains, yet you still can’t part with them by throwing them away. I’ve been there, and I’m sure you have too.
So had Vanessa Jacobs, founder of the website The Restory. Jacobs founded her accessories restoration and repair business in 2015 after moving to London several years earlier and becoming frustrated at the lack of service in comparison to her previous home in New York City. So she gave up her high-powered job at Accenture to turn her attention to the craft of leather repair.
Worldwide footwear consumption has doubled every 20 years, from 2.5 billion pairs per year in 1950 to more than 20 billion per year now, according to Loughborough University research, and less than five per cent of shoes produced each year are recycled. It can take anything from 25 to 40 years for leather shoes to decompose, depending on the combination of materials used.
With those scary statistics in mind, plus the knowledge of how much it hurts to get rid of your favourite pair of shoes, or a once-loved bag that has rubbed against your jeans so much that it’s too dirty to carry anymore, The Restory compiled an integrated team to tackle most problems.
“I have spent years assembling an A-list team of specialists that not only have the most advanced technical skills but also share my passion for service and excellence,” says Jacobs. “They all disrupt, challenge and innovate in their particular craft to come up with solutions to seemingly impossible problems. We are always developing new techniques.”
What was their most challenging item to repair? “The atelier received a 19th century hatbox, which threatened to disintegrate into dust every time we touched it,” recalls Jacobs. “Our most imaginative restoration was a brand-new Yves Saint Laurent handbag that had been chewed by a dog who was tired of playing second fiddle to a new baby.”
When I found out my stylish friend Kim Hersov, editor-at-large ofPorter magazine, was a regular client of The Restory, I was even more intrigued.
“I had taken some vintage belts to several ethnic/tribal art dealers in the Portobello Market and none were willing or able to help me fix them,” she told me. “But The Restory was able to restore a 10-year-old belt I bought in Jordan whose central stud had fallen of. They not only replaced the stud but also made it a close match in terms of patina. Whenever I send in my shoes or belts, they come back looking so pristine that it’s almost as gratifying as buying a new pair!”
With some pretty astounding, almost-as-good-as-new evidence photos on The Restory’s website, I was sold. My beloved pink Roger Vivier leather sneakers, with a huge crystal brooch, were worn and dirty from London puddles, and desperately in need of some TLC.
With a few clicks online I arranged for them to be collected from my office, for free, within 24 hours. The team sent me an email to let me know they’d received them, and a day later I got a quote and a list of the processes they’d carry out in order to restore my sneakers to near-perfect health.
Three weeks later, leather restoration and rubber sole cleaning complete, and £137 billed, my sneakers (originally £875) in all their crystal and pink glory looked almost new.
Now I’m scouring my shoe racks and bag cupboard to see what other beloved treasures I can use without fear of wear and tear. Knowing that I can wear these accessories almost to the point of no return highlights which pieces I want to invest in, as they can now be considered truly timeless. And Jacobs’ aspirations don’t stop there.
“Our ambition is to be a complete wardrobe restoration service. We have soft-launched into alterations and mending of clothes, and will cover tailoring, dry cleaning and laundry, jewellery and watches.” So don’t save your clothes or shoes for special occasions only. Wear with abandon, enjoy, then restore. And rewear.