Shoe trees are essential when taking care of your shoe investments. I have talked about shoe trees and how to properly take care of your shoes before, but access to good quality shoe trees have always been a problem in Australia. The Americans have pretty nice selection of shoe trees from brands like Woodlore, but shoe trees weigh quite a bit (they are made of wood and metal after all) so the shipping might cost as much as (or more than) the shoe trees themselves. EBay sells shoe trees but the sizing is a bit hit and miss, it’s usually not cedar, the quality is generally terrible, and the shipping is still not that cheap. So I had pretty much resigned myself to buying Florsheim shoe trees due to the lack of options. Until now!
I received my pair of premium red cedar shoe trees yesterday from Trimly and boy are they a step up from the Florsheims. Trimly is a newish venture and has been around for about 12 months or so. The online store kind of reminds me of an Australian version of Kirby Allison’s Hanger Project, and also sells wooden hangers for suits, shirts, and pants and other shoe care products. I had no idea Trimly existed until I came across it on the /AustralianMFA reddit.
Anyway – to the shoe trees themselves! These are bloody beautiful. They came in a nice box and a nice cloth bag, which is a nice touch. The cedar is a fantastic red colour, and you can see in the pictures that my florsheims look rather pale in comparison. But the best part is the construction. The Trimly shoe trees are a twin-tube design much like shoe trees from Woodlore, while the Florsheims rely on a spring-loaded split toe design. My biggest gripe with the Florsheim trees has always been that the back part of the tree (which pushes against the inside of the heel) is so narrow and in softer leathers or unlined shoes can push the centre of the heel out and misshapen the heel over time. This is alleviated somewhat by the weak spring, but then it doesn’t do such a good job of flattening the shoe out. The Trimly trees, on the other hand, has a fully contoured heel which is much wider and fills out the heel cup. The springs are also much stronger. I tried out both brands in my Florsheim Imperial longwings (yes I see the irony of knocking Florsheim whilst owning two pairs of these “gunboats” but vintage Florsheim puts modern Florsheim to shame), and the Trimly trees definitely filled out the shoe better and flattened the creases more. Size-wise, they run pretty much true to size. I’m a brannock 9D US and the trees are a size 42 and they fit perfectly.
I had an email exchange with James, the owner of Trimly, and he is looking to expand his business so I’m really excited to see this happening in Australia. He also stocks a line of Japanese shoe leather conditioners and waxes called Bootblack. Now I have never heard of this brand before, but James claims they are as good as Saphir and that is a bold claim. I will definitely be trying this line of products in the future, given it is a fraction of the price of Saphir.
In the interest of full disclosure, James did send me the shoe trees free of charge. However my enthusiasm is all my own! I have always lamented the lack of good shoe trees in Australia. Price-wise, Jame’s trees cost about the same as the ones stocked by Florsheim, and he also stocks another full-toe model that is considerably less. I know who I will be buying my trees from in the future. Both brands offer a life-time guarantee.
Trimly will also be at the upcoming festival of Steve in Melbourne if you want to see these products in the flesh.
Edit: since publishing this article, I have received a few comments that it’s cheaper to buy trees in bulk from overseas to negate the shipping. There is still a degree of risk in doing this if you are new to the game, and for guys starting out in the world of decent shoes who don’t need ten pairs of trees, Trimly still provides the best quality to dollar ratio.