Shoes color change

viki2000 used Ask the Experts™
I bought few months ago next pair of shoes:

Then winter came with snow and just happened that one shoe came in touch with snow and became a bit wet with some spots.
After was dry the spots were still there. Was no mud, no dirt; it was only clean snow.
Then I thought that simple water may have consequences in color change over the shoes leather.
I decided to gentile wash the entire shoe which had spots (the spots were darker than original shoe color).
After washing and drying the entire shoe change its color, became darker.
I did the same operation with the other shoe, but after washing and drying the color of the second shoe did not change from original, or if it did it is very little compared with the other one.
Now I have almost new shoes (used once) which I cannot wear because one is a lot darker than other.
It is funny and annoying in the same time.

Maybe at these types of shoes it would have been better to use a spray, foam for leather shoes to apply preventive a treatment to the leather against water, but did not cross to my mind at that time.

What ideas do you have to obtain the same color grade (eventually back to original), besides repainting both shoes with the same color?
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Is that suede or smooth leather?  
Suede is absorbent and notoriously temperamental in water (see Seinfeld).
Another complication of Winter wetness is salt.

You could try dunking or dyeing both shoes, overwhelming the spots.
Or just wear them as is and trust to eventual weathering to bring them back together.
Unfortunately is suede leather.
I can't wear them as they are, the color difference is too big.
O would look worse than a clown. It is bad.
The cause my be related to the length of time in contact with water.
- The best solution might be dye of at least a good suede polish
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The water was without salt.
It was just fresh snow.
The contact was max 15 min then the snow was melted and in in the next 15 min I was home and the shoes were put to dry.

The waterproofing or stain resisting sprays you get would, in all probability, have changed the colour of the suede anyway.  It will always tell you on the spray can or bottle to test on an inconspicuous area first because they take no responsibility for all the different types of leather you can get.  Water repellent liquids need to wet the surface and allow the waterproofing substance to soak into the outside layer.  They are usually in a fast drying liquid like alcohol or other spirit so that the wetting is minimised, but any type of wetting on suede can affect the colour and texture.

A leather hide from a cow is almost always split because it is too thick for any practical uses.  The upper layer with the grain is used for furniture, jackets, and traditional leather shoes.  It sometimes has the grain smoothed off (nubuck), sometimes has an artificial coating applied, and is sometimes mechanically and artificially re-grained.

The upper side of the bottom split is used for proper suede, hence the fuzzy texture.  It doesn't have as many natural oils as the "grain split", but from a good piece of leather it is still nice and dense but supple.

Cheaper cuts of leather, such as a third layer from the bottom or middle splits from old cows/bulls, is sometimes wrongly described as suede, and sometimes has an artificial grain embossed into it so that it can be wrongly advertised as "grain leather".  The hide is more fibrous and less pliant the further down the skin you get, and cheap quality "suede" is just the crappy bottom layer buffed with wire brushes or sanded coarsely to resemble proper suede.

There are all kinds of British Standards and European Directives that specify what can be called real leather and carry that familiar "Real Leather" cow-hide shaped tag.
You will get a lot of information here:
and here:

Suede was never intended to be worn in wet environments.  You mostly find suede used in "Desert Boots" or variants of that style.  You can get small brass wire brushes to buff suede and make it fuzzy again, but if the discolouration is caused by the dye in the leather running or by some other coloured liquid, then you will probably never be able to brush the suede deeply enough to remove it without damaging it.

You will be aware of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 in the UK:

You may be able to get a full refund for the boots if you can demonstrate that they were advertised or described as being suitable for wet wintry UK weather, but with no mention of the fact that suede isn't waterproof and will stain.  That would be the "as described" part of the act.

If you could prove that the dye in the suede was of poor quality and separated more than it should have, then that would be the "satisfactory quality" clause, but that would be impossible to prove without paying lots of money to or other independent company.

You could argue the point that "everyday use" in the UK can involve experiencing all four seasons, and therefore maintain that the boots were "not fit for purpose", but it all depends what care and usage instructions came with the boots.

If the suede boots were advertised in the UK along the lines of "keep your feet dry and warm this Winter", then you would have been perfectly entitled to claim a full refund in terms of the Sale of Goods Act on reading an instruction leaflet that said "not intended for wet weather" or "may discolour if boots get wet".  If, however, you ignored any such instructions on instruction leaflets or tags, did not treat them with the recommended water repellent, and wore them in wet weather, then your claim is really invalidated.

If no instructions came with the boots in any form, and you therefore were unaware of the fact that the suede boots might stain after getting wet, then I would say you could demand a refund in terms of the Sale of Goods Act on the basis that there was no inferred restrictions on use other than as "everyday footwear".

You should be aware that the Sale of Goods Act covers goods bought over the Internet as long as they are not sold as an auction, eg. eBay even if it was a "buy it now" sale.  So if you bought the goods via the Next website you can invoke the clauses of this act.

Those boots will not have been cheap.  Nothing from Next is cheap, but when I say "cheap" I don't necessarily use that to describe quality.  Marks & Spencer, once an outlet that sold only good quality clothing, now has most of its garments made where labour is much cheaper and quality has suffered, but the prices haven't dropped.  I'm not criticising your choice of shop, because most fashion chains charge far too much for what the goods actually are these days.  I know because I work in that industry.

I mention this because I do not think you should even attempt to remove the staining before you at least try for a refund or exchange.  One of the exemptions that a retailer will use to invalidate a claim for refund is if you have tried to fix the problem yourself.  Those boots are too pricey to take a chance with.  If they were just a cheap pair of two lace-hole "dessy boots" with thin foam rubber soles and little in the way of lining, then by all means get a wire brush on a power drill and get stuck in, but don't try that with your boots.

Bill, thank for so many words and advices.
The boots were bought in Germany.
I received them as gift from my wife. I do not know how much she paid few months ago, but now are around 60€.
I found them here:

I do not know if I can still find the receipt to try to change them.

I have heard once about using shoe cream or shoe wax (same color as original) and try to change the shoes "face" a little bit. They will not longer look suede leather, but they will have the same color and will be possible to wear them. I never tried before but if I remember well was and advice some years ago from somebody in another situation.

What do you think about such idea?
Aha!  Sorry viki2000, when you said "I bought few months ago next pair of shoes" I thought you were referring to the retail fashion chain called Next which is big in the UK and I believe also in Europe.  Sorry about that, I assumed you were based in the UK.

Germany will have very similar Trading Standards and Consumer Protection laws, and there will no doubt be equivalent government departments who can advise consumers about their rights.

I see that there is a small icon next to the Borelli logo that tells you the boots comply with the laws regarding what can be sold as "Real Leather".  Again, there will be equivalent European or German laws concerning what constitutes real leather, and it is probably exactly the same as the UK "British Standards" (BSI).

Unfortunately I don't speak German, so I would find it hard to look at the Deichmann website's "Terms and Conditions".  I could probably copy and paste into Google Translate, but often it changes the meanings of sentences, and I am sure some of the sentences will be very long.

We often hear and read the expression "Terms and Conditions Apply", in adverts, and they then say (quite often very quickly so we don't quite hear it) "Statutory Rights Unaffected".  What this means is that, although there may be conditions set by the shop regarding what space of time you may return the goors, or that they may charge a handling fee, etc, etc, BUT IF you are asking for a refund or exchange because of your "statutory rights" (or rights as a consumer), then they can override their terms and conditions.  For example, if they give a 14 day exchange clause, but the shoes tear after wearing them for normal activities for 21 days, you can still claim a refund because of faulty materials or workmanship, or any other clause of the consumer laws in Germany.

In such cases you will not always need a receipt, as long as you have some proof that the boots were bought from that retailer.  Occasionally claims about faulty materials or workmanship, or similar issues, are referred to the actual manufacturer.  Unless you are told otherwise, your first complaint should always be with the shop that sold the goods.

You can usually also claim back reasonable travelling costs to return the faulty or misadvertised goods, and also any postal costs for returning them.  Just be sure to post the boots on a service where the shop's returns department signs for them if you have to.  Most often companies first have to issue you with a unique return number before you send the goods back.  Be sure to complete any documentation of web forms completely.  In most cases they will also tell you that they will inspect the goods and if they do not find them faulty or defective, then they will charge you an administrative fee and will not reimburse postal costs.

I will load the web page into Google Chrome when I get home in the morning, because that will try and translate the contents of the page.  I am at work right now.  I will look for any advertising expressions in the description of the boots that implies they are ideal for outdoor use in Winter, or in any weather, but do not mention that they are not waterproof.

I would avoid applying any kind of wax, polish, or other similar stuff onto suede.  It will ruin them and completely invalidate any claim that you might have against the retailer.  It might be tempting to think you could make them look like a normal shiny pair of soft shoes if you polish and buff them up, but suede is fuzzy and you would have to apply many coats and rub it in for ages to get anything like the appearance of normal leather shoes, and the style will not match the polished appearance.
awking00Information Technology Specialist
You might note that most animals which produce leather have coats that are naturally uneven. To produce suede with an even color requires that it goes through a dyeing process to produce that. Unfortunately, when suede comes in contact with moisture it's going to change color, and do so in an uneven manner. You might try having the boots re-dyed but that may cost more to have done properly than buying a new pair. For years I've been wearing boat shoes that originally come in blue suede and they have always changed color in a pretty short period of time. In fact, one of the pairs I would now classify as being green and not blue. Fortunately, boat shoes are kind of meant to look a little ratty. In truth, the rattier they look the better people think you know how to sail. I'm not sure what the intended purpose of your boots are, but maybe they're intended to look "used" as well. There doesn't appear to be an easy solution to your situation, if one exists at all.
Hi viki2000

The Deichmann web page for the product does not provide many details at all.  To try and help you decide what you may be entitled to in law I have attached some details below:

Deichmann Contact Form

Deichmann Head Office:

Deichmann SE
Deichmannweg 9
45359 Essen
Phone: 0800 5020500 (Monday to Friday 9am to 9pm, Sat 9am to 6pm)
Fax: 0201 -6141 - 396

Deichmann Warranty / Guarantee

Die gesetzliche Gewährleistungspflicht beträgt 2 Jahre gem. § 437 BGB und beginnt mit der Übergabe der Ware. In dieser Zeit werden alle Mängel, die der gesetzlichen Gewährleistungspflicht unterliegen, kostenlos behoben. Bzgl. der Gewährleistung gelten die gesetzlichen Bestimmungen. Der Gewährleistungsanspruch erlischt für Schäden infolge unsachgemäßer Behandlung und Verwendung des Kaufgegenstandes.
Bei Mängeln können Sie die bestellte Ware jederzeit in einer unserer Deichmann-Filialen zurückzugeben (nutzen Sie einfach unseren Filialfinder, um die nächstgelegene Filiale zu finden) oder Sie wenden sich an unsere kostenlose Hotline 0800 / 50 20 500. (Mo. bis Fr., 9 bis 21 Uhr, Sa. 9 bis 18 Uhr) Deichmann tauscht Ihre bestellte Ware gegen einen neuen Artikel aus oder erstattet Ihnen bei Wunsch den Kaufpreis.

Deichmann Warranty / Guarantee translated to English by Google:

The statutory warranty period is 2 years in accordance with Section 437 of the BGB German Civil Code and begins with the delivery of the goods. In this period all defects covered by the statutory warranty corrected free of charge. Warranty is governed by the statutory provisions. The warranty does not apply to damage caused by improper handling and use of the item purchased.
If there are defects, you can return the goods ordered at any time in our Deichmann branches (just use our store locator to find the nearest branch) or contact our toll-free hotline 0800 5020500 (Monday to Friday 9am to 9pm, Sat 9am to 6pm) Deichmann from your ordered product with a new item or refund the purchase price upon request.

German Civil Code (BGB):

English: (section 437)


Side-by-Side Translations:

The difference with UK Warranty / Guarantee:

In the event that the goods received are damaged or defective Deichmann will at our own option replace, repair or refund the amount originally paid for them.  This can be done at any of our Deichmann stores (simply use our Location Finder) or by returning the goods via the Royal Mail or Collect Plus.

It looks like your "BGB" law is very similar to the UK Sale of Goods Act, but better.

If you decide to keep the boots and try to fix the damage, then I think the best you can do is dampen the other boot a bit using a fine spray bottle and clean water and then let it dry.  Hopefully they would then be similar in shade and you can buff them with a small hand-held wire suede brush something like this or a stiff plastic brush.  They come in various shapes as you will see here:
but the general idea is to brush in circles to fuzz up the suede surface slightly and try to disguise variances in the shading.

If the shoe that was in the snow has bad watermarks where the dye has run in places but not others, then maybe after you spray the other shoe and let it dry, you could then spray both shoes lightly and hope that the spray spreads the watermark over a wider area and blends it in.  Brushing both boots lightly might then hide the edges of the water staining.

I hope this is of some help.

Bill, you investigated a lot and invested a lot of time. I appreciate that.
That was the 1st thing which crossed to my mind: to return the shoes to Deichmans store.
There are 2 problems:
- the 1st and most important: I do not have the receipt to claim the warranty time. They were bought few months ago with cash money, so not online.
- I know the Deichmann stores in the town and when you buy shoes, at the cash desk they usually ask you to buy additionally all kind of protection sprays. I did that before, I have them home for other shoes, but I did not use them now on these shoes.
Therefore I expect (even if I would have the receipt), when I go back to the store to complain about the shoes, the sellers will tell me that I misused the shoes, that is obviously that I did not protect them as is required.
For these reasons I did not try to return them.
Do you still have the box that the shoes came in, or the tags that are normally tied to a lace hole?

As far as I am concerned, although I am not a lawyer, unless the care products came inside the box with the shoes or the tag or leaflet inside the box specifically stated that the care products were required, then these things are optional extras.

I would consider that wearing the shoes once or twice within a two month period does not constitute "misuse", and that stepping into a bit of snow is not misuse either, unless the tag on the shoes told you not to get them damp or wet at all.  The dye should have been permanently fixed in the leather and should not run.

These are not indoor slippers.  They are intended for outside use, and I still think that you could try for a refund based on the fact that when they were used as intended, they have changed appearance too much to enjoy wearing and looking good.

Get a plastic nail brush, or even an old toothbrush, and buff the suede leather in small circular motions for a short time to see what happens.  If it improves in appearance, then you could get a brass wire suede brush and use it.
The picture in the beginning is from the online store.
Here below are the real shoes:

Real shoes
What do you think about color difference?
Now they are dried, but I washed them gentle only with water - the both.
I didn't expect such a dramatic difference in shade.  So the left shoe, which is the darker one on the right in the photo, has been wet twice (once with snow and then later with clean water), and the lighter one has only been wet once with clean water.

I assume that the right shoe (left in the photo) did not get any darker when you washed it with clean water?

That leaves one of two possibilities:

1. The shoes were made from entirely different pieces of leather (not from the same hide) and the dye in the darker one was not "fixed" properly to make it stable

2. There was something in the snow that affected the dye in that shoe, but because the other shoe didn't get wet from the snow it was not affected.

Salt in the snow, or special "ice cracker" granules to melt snow faster than salt, could affect the dye, especially if it wasn't fixed as well.  It is pretty hard to know what has caused this difference.

If the left show has been wet twice and the right shoe only once, then I would have to wonder what would happen if you wet the right shoe again.  maybe it would get darker and match the other shoe a bit better, but somehow I don't think so.

 What we can't be sure of is whether it is only the very top thin layer of suede leather that is darker on one shoe.  If that is the case, then buffing only the dark shoe with a brush might lighten it.

My own personal opinion, based on photos alone, is that the shoes are made from different hides and the permanency of the dye in each of them is different.  If it was me I would be taking them back on the basis of a manufacturing fault and I would deny that I had washed them with water.  I would probably say that I had been caught in a light shower of rain that had dampened both shoes, and that when they dried shortly afterwards in a warmish room they were different shades.  I would still try this without a receipt.

I don't know what else to suggest, but I can appreciate how disappointed you are about this.

That is a remarkable and enormous difference.  I can see why you are distressed.
Try talking to the manufacturer.  It looks like one of the shoes may have missed a step (waterproofing?) at the factory.
I appreciate all your comments.
They helped me to decide to do what my wife told me from beginning: to go and speak with the seller at the store and to try to change them. If they do not want to change them, I still do not lose too much - a try is welcome in such case, even without receipt.

I just found some news: the boots were bought not directly from Deichmann store, but from another store in town, a reseller, quite big store, which have all kinds of brands of shoes.
The encouragement came when my wife remembered  today that in summer towards autumn she bought a pair of shoes for her from the same store. They were smooth leather, she lost the receipt, she wore the shoes 2 times in the 1st month. She could not see the color grade difference 1st time, but was easy to be noticed in a sunny day. She went to the store and the seller changed the shoes without any discussion, even without receipt and even if the shoes looked a bit used.

I plan next week as soon as possible to go in the store and change them.
I let you know the result.
Good luck.  I hope you get your refund without any problems.
dhsindyRetired considering supplemental income.

I owe you one.  I got a pair of suede slippers for Christmas.  I almost went out in the snow to get my paper.  Then, I remembered this thread.  Thanks, again.
Job done.

In the box with the shoes I still had a label with bar code (no price, just the ID of the product)
As my wife knew in what month were bought, the seller was able to identify in their database the product based on month and bar code label.
The seller(s) did not comment too much about the shoes after they have seen the big color difference. Probably they will return back to their supplier.

Because I did not have the receipt they could not refund me cash money, but they accepted back the shoes and in exchange I received a voucher card with the same values as the shoes when were bought.

I can use that voucher to buy something else from their store.

Thank you for participation and encouragement.
awking00Information Technology Specialist

Glad to see you got some recompense, at least.
Thank you viki2000.  I am really pleased that you were able to get a voucher.  Sometimes this is the best that you can get after something like 14 days, but at least you can buy another pair of boots that are better suited for outdoor use in all weathers, or maybe a pair the same but just keep them for dry weather use.

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