Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's that dusty stuff inside your boots?



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Now is the time to learn what to ask of an online seller.
If you buy vintage boots, pay special attention to the lining condition. Often the glue that was used in the 60s - 80s to attach the nylon, polyester or acetate knit to the inside can get sticky, flaky and break down. It's toxic. Sadly, toss those boots in the garbage. Period. Don't buy them....don't wear them....don't sell them.
If a vintage clothing seller tells you "Oh, you can just wear socks to protect your feet!", I say, run! No reputable vintage clothing seller would pass off severely damaged merchandise. The only possible time to offer goods that are very damaged, is in the case of very rare examples of fine vintage designer clothing or antiques than can and should be saved for museum or educational purposes, and then, price accordingly.

What's the chemicals used in these kinds of knits and glues, both in boots and shoes, and vintage clothes?  These are the 4 most used plastics that will break down over time: cellulose acetate, cellulose nitrate, polyvinyl chloride and polyurethane. 
  Some people, some vintage dealers and sellers call this "Devils Dust". Even if ignored for the moment, that the glue/fabric breakdown is toxic because of chemicals and/or minute particles breathed in to your lungs, just ask yourself....Why do you want to buy or sell something that is clearly damaged? Stickiness, flakiness and ooey-gooey isn't in the original condition when new...and it is damage that is in an entirely different class than a few minor scuffs or heel taps that can be replaced.
I see this sticky breakdown all the time with the brands Connie,Cobbies and Joyce.

What's in the glue that is used in boots, and by the way, used to bond nylon knit to fabrics? (you see this in 60s acrylic plaids and tweeds, mostly).
Well, here's a list of what industrial glues can contain: volatile solvents like toluol,  hexane,  trichlorethylene,  acetone, toluene,  ethyl acetate,  methyl ethyl ketone,  trichlorochthane, isopropanol, methyl isobutyl ketone,  methyl cellosolve acetate, cyclohexanone, or other solvents,  or a combination which might be releasing toxic vapors.
EDIT -- 2015. "Hi Anonymous, I'd only recommend cleaning the toxic glue and broken down synthetic lining, if one had a proper professional respirator (and not just a mouth and nose dust cover),and an outdoor area to work in." see the rest of the EDIT in the comments concerning  a proper way to clean and reuse boots with toxic breakdown in them.




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This can happen with any brand that uses glues... but those 2-3 brands seem to be the most prone. Not every pair of Joyce,Cobbies or Connie, of course, and I have a pair of sticky-lined Zodiac tall cowboy boots with feathers that I'm gonna deconstruct and clean-up and install eyelets, so I can save them. ...with a proper respirator mask on, and lots of hand-washing. I think a very good wipe-down with some kind of painter-type stuff like Goof Off will remove the sticky glue after I pull the lining off....





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I love vintage...boots. Thank you Some Lady for shopping at Nordstrom or JCPenney's in the 70s and 80s and spending big bucks to buy boots, and thanks for getting bored or allowing your feet to grow, and deciding to sell them to Me !




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The heel caps may be worn out and they can be replaced at a real cobbler shop, for around 15.00 a pair. Call around to ask about quality of the replacement caps and price. Ask them about a return policy too. I've had some replaced that fell apart the very same day I retrieved them from the cobbler....boy I was a mad little elf ! They got a piece of my mind, but none of my return business.



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My faves to find and sell are either unlined, or lined and from Italy. Yugoslavia, Canada, and Brazil make a good boot, and like I said, there are plenty of other brands that do hold up over time.
Most boots made in the US are quality....most vintage cowboy boots are great....as are Tony Lama, Frye, Dingo, Dexter, 9West, Zodiac (most of the time), Aigner,....oooh there is nothing like a silky leather lined pair of Italian boots.

It's a case of Buyer Beware, so ask a seller some questions before you hit that Buy button. So sad, but I'm still seeing sellers on etsy, ebay and around the interwebs that Should Know Better, but still have rotten boots for sale...without proper disclosure.





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11 comments:

Becky said...

Thanks! I did not know about the gooey glue issue. I had a pair of boots that were maybe 10 years old that disintegrated last year - On Christmas Day - as we arrived at our destination - with no back up shoes!
The soles were rubber and just started falling off in chunks - aiiii!

propriatress said...

Dang, that's so darn frustrating! I see this happening with modern shoes/boots too. Cheap imports!
When I have a pair of vintage in my hands, before I buy, always check the insides, and I wack the soles on the floor a few times...Hard!

Too much is made overseas with no quality control. Even brands that have always been great quality in the past can be dicey.
So, well, at least you got 10 good years. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I own a consignment shop and an older lady just consigned 8 pairs of Frye boots with this issue. So bummed!!!!

Mandi Myers said...

I just bought an old pair of zodiac boots off ebay and i cant even get my foot inside because it is so sticky and dusty...this is normal? Is this stuff toxic or is it other boots? Just wondering need advice on if i shoudl toss them or try to clean them. Dont want anything toxic! i am pregnant

propriatress said...

Hi Mandi, I think the first thing to do is to put them in a plastic bag,and don't breathe the dust, and wash your hands! Please contact the ebay seller and ask for full refund + shipping. This is something that new or inexperience sellers may not know. If they don't respond with a full refund, please file with Paypal. Don't toss them....you'll need to take pictures and maybe have to return them to the seller. Paypal may want you to send them back to the seller, too.
Best of Luck!

Susan 65 said...

In the Late 1990s and Early 2000s my Gramps was STILL wearing some of the Vintage Cowboy boots he had purchased back in the 1950s and 60s...granted most of his boots were made by companies like Stetson, Tony Lama, Dan Post, Shepler...but he took GOOD Care of his boots, he replaced the soles when the wore out, and cleaned and polished them regularly as well as always put boot holders in them...are you saying those boots are no good as well? Thanks Susan

propriatress said...

Hi, The dusty stuff from a synthetic lining breaks down ...with the synthetic glues, and it turns to dust, and it is quite sticky too. If old boots are lined in leather, or a made of one layer of leather, then there is no worry! It's the knit linings that break down, and the old glue that is a worry.

Anonymous said...

Don't throw out those boots!!!

I have been selling and buying (and wearing) vintage boots for many years, including boots with deteriorated linings. I understand the concerns, but tossing out otherwise perfectly fine boots is IMO nothing less than a tragedy.

What I do is first get as much of the old lining out as I can. Then I put them in a plastic trash bag and close the bag. Holding the boots upside down by the heels, I bang the hell out of them. This releases much of the dust. I then vacuum them thoroughly. After that, I take a cloth and wipe them out. It may take a couple rounds of this before they're wearable again, but it CAN be done with a little time and patience.

Vintage goods are....well, old. Things don't go through time without some degree of damage. I believe in salvaging as much as you can from vintage goods. If you don't want to clean our your dusty/sticky boots, fine -- but please don't throw them out. Sell them to me! :-)

propriatress said...

Hi Anonymous, I'd only recommend cleaning the toxic glue and broken down synthetic lining, if one had a proper professional respirator (and not just a mouth and nose dust cover),and an outdoor area to work in. As a former painting contractor, I always used top quality protection. Most people won't want to spend the money to buy the protective equipment to tackle the job you describe. yes it can be done, but not without thinking it through and doing it correctly. For most people, tossing old funky fashion boots is the right thing. I save thousands of old thing, old clothes and such every year, and it breaks my heart when I can't rescue everything and reuse it. Proper protective gear is an absolute must. Otherwise, no.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Contemplating a pair of vintage Zodiac ankle boots, the heels are chipped, but not a deal breaker for me. The description says lining is loose, but doesn't affect wearability. Would putting an insole help better protect myself from the lining starting to flake?

propriatress said...

hello anonymous! wearing socks or putting in a liner on the inside foot will help keep the flaky stuff off you and on your socks, but it is still breaking down. Only you can decide if it's a fix-it project you want to do.