Monday, April 30, 2012

What's that sticky stuff in my boots?

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.

Even if you ignore 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.

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.

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.

I see this sticky breakdown all the time with the brands Connie, Cobbies and Joyce.
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 dust 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....

I love 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 !

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.

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 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.

(an 2009 archive post, updated for your vintage pleasure)