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Breaking In Leather Footwear and a Tip to Speed Up The Process

We are often asked what the HD stands for in HD Russell.  Today it is heavy duty.  Our footwear is not the lightest and is not intended to break any personal records at the race track.  HD Russell Goodyear Welted footwear is made with a leather insole, leather midsole, a steel shank and with leather thickness between 4-6oz in weight, it results in footwear that may take time to break-in but is extremely durable and long lasting.

A properly fitted leather boot/shoe can become your best friend and be the most comfortable shoe you own.  Leather is a great material because it is flexible and durable; over time the leather will bend and mould to the shape of your foot and as it “learns” the movement of your gait it will become flexible in the places that is unique to the shape of your feet.

All good things take time, and breaking in a pair of new leather footwear is no exception; you will want to ease into it.  We discuss strategies to break-in your new leather shoes without blistering, aches and pain we’ve all likely experienced.

  • Do wear your footwear indoors (at home or at the office) before you take them outside - you’ll probably want to wear your new shoes out but if you are patient and wear them for a few weeks indoors you will save yourself major discomfort when you finally take them out for the first time.

  • Do wear them for 10-20 min at a time - bring an extra pair of shoes when your feet begin to feel fatigued.  Gradually build up the time you wear them until they are so comfortable you’ve forgotten about them until someone compliments your made-to-order leather footwear!

  • Don’t wear them every day before they break in, and definitely do not go for a long hike in your brand new leather boots.


  • A little trick we give customers in-store is to mix a 50/50 solution of rubbing alcohol and water. Spray this solution on areas where the footwear is tight and walk around in them as they dry.  The alcohol gets the leather “drunk” and makes it more pliable.  (We use this solution when we prepare leather for our Chelsea boots to create their shape)


There is a difference between breaking in new leather shoes and leather shoes that need stretching and your feet will let you know.  If your footwear is too tight for even just 5 minutes of wear, you can bring your new pair to us or any cobbler for a stretch.   *We will stretch any HD Russell footwear free of charge*


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