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Shoe polish: the history of the French shoe polish brand Saphir

Decodings Shoes
From its creation to its position, you will discover here the whole history of the French shoe polish brand Saphir.
A few brands are shaping the French shoe care landscape. We are launching a series of articles to introduce you to the main players and talk about their history and their shoe polish.
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This advice file reads in  6 min

Introduction

The presence of shoe polish dates back to the 18th century, in a very different form to the one we know today. Before 1920, the care of leather shoes consisted of blackening them. Mixtures of burnt bone and animal fat were used. To rediscover the history of shoe polish, we recommend you read our article on the subject.

In 1920, the first French shoe polish company was founded. It was called Saphir and with it came a change in practice. Leather care was to evolve and take the form we know today.

The brand is present in more than fifty countries on five continents. Saphir shoe polish has established itself in the world of shoe polish and shoe care. In France, it is being challenged by new players such as Monsieur Chaussure.

We tell you its story!

Who is Saphir? And why is the brand associated with the beauty of leather?

The Saphir brand was created in 1920 by the Destagnol family from Charente. Since the beginning, the Destagnol family has been committed to producing quality products for leather shoes. Care products such as shoe polish are designed to deeply nourish and protect the beauty of your shoes and town shoes from the effects of time.

This mission of the brand has become its slogan "Saphir - the beauty of leather".

Made in France

Saphir products are manufactured in France and are mainly intended for the care and protection of leather goods. Initially for leather shoes, over time the product range has expanded. It now includes renovation products for leather goods.

These products are designed to be durable and can be used for all kinds of materials, such as leather, wet leather, full grain leather, suede, nubuck and suede. In addition, the brand offers specific products for exotic leathers, such as crocodile or snake.

All of the brand's products are formulated to nourish, protect and maintain leather, and are available in a variety of colours and finishes. They are also available in a variety of forms including cream, spray and polish depending on the type of leather to be maintained.

Let's talk about packaging.

The containers have been in metal cans since the beginning. The metal cans are created by a French partner company, Boudeville & Fontaine. The advantage of these cans is that they are infinitely recyclable.

The development of the brand in the 1970s

The French brand has developed gradually over the years. First in France and then in the United States, where the Saphir shoe polish brand was created in New York in 1959. After several decades of existence, the brand almost disappeared.

In the 1970s, Saphir went bankrupt. However, the brand was acquired by Maxi Laboratories and the products were manufactured again. This takeover also failed and Saphir went bankrupt again. In 1979, the Avel brand took over Saphir and gave it its present size.

Despite all the changes in ownership, the factory has never moved. It has grown to 7500 m2.

In 2016, the Avel factory that owns Saphir was awarded the "Living Heritage Company" label for its 40 years of existence in the shoe care industry. You can still find Saphir in Magnac-Lavalette (Charente, Nouvelle-Aquitaine).

Did you know that?

The Avel Group is owned by a French holding company that has been in the same family for three generations. The holding is called ALMA FRC. Today, 150 employees work to perpetuate the French family know-how of the Saphir brand, including 36 in France.
You can find iconic references of the Saphir brand on Monsieur chaussure.

The composition of Saphir shoe polish

Although the recipe has been well preserved since its inception, we are aware of some of the raw materials used. In order to meet the needs of our customers, Saphir shoe polish contains many natural ingredients and waxes.

In the pots of cream and paste polish there are several waxes and oils. To name a few, there is beeswax, carnauba wax and lanolin. These are waxes that nourish the leather and make it shine.

There is also a stone that is considered a wax because of its texture, ozokerite. It is this wax that gives the paste of shoe polish its consistency.

Naturals ingredients

For oils, there are the classic jojoba, mink and sweet almond oils... They are well known for their nourishing properties.

Some of the brand's products contain turpentine. This is a natural essence extracted from the maritime pine. The essence acts as a solvent. It removes old layers of shoe polish.
Please note that depending on the model of your shoes and the quality of the leather, the patina may fade over time.

Turpentine also has an antibacterial effect, which prevents the formation of mould on shoes. Turpentine also improves the hydration and shine of the leather. It is very effective at bringing your shoes back to life. It brings a new youthfulness to your shoes.
Each of the natural ingredients used is known and recognised for its properties on the leather to preserve all its beauty.

Finally, as regards the manufacture of the brand's care products, Saphir does not add resins or silicones to its shoe polishes. These products are harmful to the leather and its preservation over time.

A wide choice of colors

Saphir products are a wide range of shoe polish with more than 80 different colours of shoe polish creams or pastes. Saphir shoe polish pastes are also called luxury pastes. A wide choice of colours to suit all your shoes. Even the most original ones.
You can find a selection of the best Saphir shoe care products on our website.

Shoe care

Questions about your pair of shoes or town shoes?

Our team is here to help you make the right choice!
After reading about the history of the brand, you want to buy the products mentioned in the article. The problem is that you don't know exactly which colour to choose from the huge Saphir colour chart.

Send us photos of the shoes in natural light. This is important so that you can see the original colour of your patina. Once we have the photos, our team will tell you the right colour for your shoes.

They will also be able to give you a diagnosis of the products to be used and/or, if necessary, indicate the shoe repairs to be carried out in order to preserve the beauty of the leather of your shoes.

Make the right choices and double the life of your shoes.

Remember that all the products are not enough to preserve the beauty of leather, you must know how to use them. To do this, we recommend that you follow our tutorials to learn the routines to adapt to your shoes. You will also discover the accessories and gestures you can use to considerably prolong the life of your shoes.

Leather care will no longer be a mystery to you!

How to take care of leather shoes
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