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The australian history of shoe polish


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A brief Australian outline of Kiwi Boot Polish

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The australian history of shoe polish

  1. 1. The Australian History of Shoe Polish Cameron Kippen
  2. 2. John Lobb (1829-95) John Lobb became one of the most famous shoemakers in the world. He was born in Cornwall, became an apprentice bootmaker in London, before travelling to Australia to seek his destiny as a gold prospector. Instead he made his fortune developing an ingenious hollow-heeled boot. Prospectors keen to hide their gold bought them and John Lobb made his first fortune.
  3. 3. John Lobb Bootmaker In 1858, he opened his first bespoke shoe shop in George Street, Sydney. In 1862, he sent a pair of his boots to the Great Exhibition in London and won a gold medal for their quality. Twelve months later he sent a pair of his riding boots to the Prince of Wales and was awarded a Royal Warrant. In 1866, he moved back to London where he quickly established " John Lobb, Bootmaker” There he provided a bespoke service to the aristocracy, as well as the political and business elite, The business continues to trade as the world's most famous bespoke shoemaking establishment.
  4. 4. You can always tell a man by his shoes In the Nineteenth century look was everything and the best dressed men (Dandy’s) paid much attention to their appearance. In Marcel Proust’s (1871 - 1922) book ‘A la Recherche du temps perdu’ (In search of lost time), there is a reference to a dandy having his expensive boots polished with Champagne. Shoe cleaning was quite an art which required specific tools. A stiff brush to remove mud & dust was essential as were soft woollen rags or old woollen socks for applying polish; and a soft brush and velvet pad of soft cloth for bringing up the mirror shine. Separate brushes were kept for black and coloured shoes. Shoe trees were used to store footwear in a neat and orderly manner. Footwear then, as now, was regarded as a mark of social standing and boot and shoe maintenance became very important to the fashion conscious.
  5. 5. Patent Leather Prior to improved water proofing wet leather was a major problem and expensive leathers footwear needed tender, loving care . Boots and shoes were treated with Vaseline or Saddle soap. To soften hardened leather sometimes lemon juice or olive oil were used. Things improved in 1818, when patent leather (treated with linseed oil) was developed and ensured dressier looking footwear. Still the prerogative of the rich, it took until the end of the 19th century when shoes and boots become more affordable to the masses.
  6. 6. Kiwi Boot Polish To ensure leather looked its best shoe polish became an essential accessory and the world’s best known shoe polish (Kiwi) was first made in Melbourne Australia in 1906. The polish was developed by William Ramsay (Scotsman) who named it after the flightless bird endemic to New Zealand. This was the home land of his wife, Annie Elizabeth Meek Ramsay.
  7. 7. Kiwi shoe polish Kiwi shoe polish was a fine blend of quality waxes which protected and nourished leather as well as giving the shoes a longer lasting glossy shine. Initially it was sold to local farmers but eventually caught on in the towns and cities. Shoe polish gave both a shoe shine as well as preserving shoe leather. Later in 1908 the product incorporated agents that added suppleness and water resistance to the leather.
  8. 8. World War One (1914 -18) At the outbreak of World War I (1914) a gigantic demand for army boots followed and these needed to be polished easily, quickly, and efficiently. Sales in boot polish rocketed and very quickly Kiwi shoe polish became the Commonwealth troops’ favorite. Kiwi Polish was also adopted by the Americans as Australian-made boot polish was then considered the world's best.
  9. 9. Kiwi Shoe Polish Doughboys took the marvelous boot polish back to the states where it became popular it soon started to be manufactured in the States. By the mid-twenties Kiwi polish was sold in over 50 countries and became a must have accessory for the prevalent English style at the time.
  10. 10. Well polished boots Even after hostilities in the Second World War, the benefits of well-polished boots swung advantage in the minds of Japanese “Pom Pom Girls” (teenage prostitutes) who during the Allied occupation of the country preferred boys with a shine on their boots. As a commodity, Australian boot polish, became a prize black market item. US soldiers returning home, took their Kiwi boot polish with them. A surge in sales followed and soon KIWI shoe polish was sold in almost 200 countries around the world.
  11. 11. Chunder Loo of Akim Foo The market for shoe polish was fiercely competitive with many rival brands. Most used fictional figures or historical characters to advertise their products. Cobra Boot Polish was made in Sydney and advertised in The Sydney Bulletin (1909 -1920). The cartoon character used was "Chunder Loo of Akim Foo." (Chunder Loo was rhyming slang for and spew or sick). Drawn by Norman Lindsay (later by his brother Lionel Lindsay) the adverts usually had a short poem which dealt with topical issues. As a result, the adverts were very popular ensuring the Australian colloquialism “chunder” became common vernacular. Much later the term became forever associated with Barry Humphries’ Australian abroad, character, Barry McKenzie
  12. 12. Barry McKenzie The adverts were very popular ensuring the Australian colloquialism “chunder” became common vernacular. Much later the term became forever associated with Barry Humphries’ Australian abroad, character, Barry McKenzie
  13. 13. Cherry Blossom Cherry Blossom Boot Polish was launched in 1906. It sold well and the ‘fish plate’ metal opener was introduced in 1924. This design paved the way for the ‘press to open’ tin we still use today.
  14. 14. Shoe Shine Boys Before the Depression, no bustling city street in the US was complete without fleets of shoe shine boys armed with their homemade wooden shoeshine box, cheap black and brown shoe polish and old cotton rags. Shoe Shinning parlours became commonplace in CBDs all over North America. They opened for business from early in the morning until very late at night.
  15. 15. Rags to Riches Shoe shining has become a modern metaphor for ‘rags to riches’ and in the past, many successful business tycoons were given their first foot hold on the corporate ladder, as shoe sine boys . Notable luuminaries include: Malcolm X, James Brown, and Lee Trevino.
  16. 16. Fats Domino Fats Domino used a studio which could only be accessed through a narrow corridor which housed a shoe shine parlour The Fatman had to squeeze past to gain entry which clearly influenced his thinking and singing because he had more hit songs about walking than any other artist.
  17. 17. The shoe polishing machine It took until the mid 1960s , before a shoe polishing machine with a shoe paste dispenser was patented.
  18. 18. Street Children Many street children use shoe shining as their only means of income but care is always required because some are petty criminals in disguise. In many countries, street urchin shoe shine boys are themselves pray to extortion and need to bribe officials to keep access to prime spots. Many take loans from moneylenders to pay contractors and become desperate to work.
  19. 19. Barefoot Protest There was once a furore in the West Australian Parliament over the purchase of a shoe shine machine. Parliamentarians needed to maintain a certain image or so the story went and a shoe shine machine was purchased and paid for with tax payer’s money. The subject became the focus of much debate. The culmination was one honourable member suggested all parliamentarians, not in favour, should go barefooted to the chamber. Fitting gesture perhaps, but it would be highly unlikely the honourable members would have been able to access their seats. Such is the veracity of the anti-barefoot campaign in Australia.
  20. 20. No bare feet Over the past half century, bare feet have become unwelcome in an increasing number of privately own public accessed settings. Stereotypically associated with low socio- economic groups going barefoot in society has become stigmatised. Many phantom laws are promulgated to restrict access to the unshod but most of these have a no statutory basis.
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