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On the Street....Shoeshine, Buenos Aires


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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

On the Street....Shoeshine, Buenos Aires

I watched this typical "street shoeshine" scene from my car while we drove to an appointment in Buenos Aires.

Nothing particularly special...until!...the shine administrator wrapped a plastic cuff around the left sock of the client to protect the client's sock from the shoe polish.

So thoughtful!

This might be common practice in some communities but I, personally, have never seen that maneuver.

Recently there has been a big, bordering on huge, trend towards old school barber shops opening in New York City. I would love to see an equal re-emergence of shoe shine stands. Maybe they should be inside the barber shops (hint, hint). I mean, I'm doing nothing but looking at old magazines while I wait for my turn anyway, why not get a shine!

Comments on "On the Street....Shoeshine, Buenos Aires"


Blogger FASHION SNAG said ... (3:14 PM) : 

Great photo! I Love shoeshine stands!


Blogger Lucas Oman said ... (3:18 PM) : 

Interesting you mention shoe shine stands in barber shops; right in downtown Savannah--on Bull near Broughton--is a small, old-style barber shop with an old shoe shine guy who has become a fixture. It's a shame you didn't notice him when you were here; he has a classic, Black Savannian style and a fascinating face.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:18 PM) : 

haha!! so the one that we have here in GRAN VIA (madrid) is lying huh? he says... EL MEJOR LIMPIADOR xD they all should be like him!!

mee :)


Blogger Damian said ... (3:21 PM) : 

Take the subway or an airplane and you will still see plenty of shoeshines.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:21 PM) : 

Yes! And a manicure, neck and shoulder massage and light lunch, haha.


Blogger Filipa Sousa said ... (3:22 PM) : 

Hello, in Oporto (Portugal) we still have some "street shoeshine", nowadays there are only a few, but I know that they use the same plastic cuff around the socks

Really interesting blog, I follow every day



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:23 PM) : 

I am 23 and love to have my shoes polished. Airports are usually the spot for me, but always keep my eyes peeled for a nice spot on the street. The plastic cuff for protecting socks (and pants too) is nothing out of the ordinary. I'd say it depends on the quality of polisher - if he has quality materials & equipment, etc., expect the cuff.


Blogger Cecille said ... (3:25 PM) : 

i didn't belive it still existed shoes polish man!


Anonymous Sheila said ... (3:25 PM) : 

I would really like to travel there :)

Check my blog, I have written about you! :)


Blogger Beautycountry said ... (3:32 PM) : 

I'm back in the 30's now :) How cool this still is a service...much cooler than people using their children to beg for money...


Anonymous The Prestige said ... (3:34 PM) : 

What a cool picture. Stuff like this makes a community/city special.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:47 PM) : 

If you look, you can find plenty of shoe-shine stands in NYC, especially near the courthouses.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:49 PM) : 

Whenever I would get a shine in San Francisco, the gentlemen doing the shining would slip a couple of playing cards between my shoe and sock. It seemed to do the trick.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:50 PM) : 

Totally agree, these old practises are so full of charm... and useful! (I love the idea you had to photograph people on the streets for their style. It's brilliant!)


Anonymous Brad said ... (3:51 PM) : 

Really? Are you kidding me? This guy is getting his black tennis shoes polished? Real sartorial.

Also, the sock protection is pretty standard.


Blogger JJUSA said ... (3:54 PM) : 

Here here for more shoeshine stands outside of airports and some hotels. I am relagated to going to the nearby Nordstroms for a shine. Good work but there needs to be more.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:55 PM) : 

It is very courteous...especially when someone is stopping to have their sneakers polished. :-)


Blogger tiffany. said ... (3:56 PM) : 

LOVE the colors!! :))



Blogger Unknown said ... (3:56 PM) : 

In Portugal this kind of practice is very common, including the protection of the sock.

Your blog is fascinating!!


Blogger Aliona said ... (3:58 PM) : 

What's truly striking about this photo is that he is getting his SNEAKERS shined. What a fastidious gentleman.


Anonymous jimjims said ... (3:59 PM) : 

man, this guy is working hard!

love how there are shoe polish guys at almost every corner of those busy streets in BA.

must have been a trek driving a car through the city. the thought never even passed my mind when i lived there.


Blogger Rachael said ... (4:02 PM) : 

I agree! Love the picture too!

I ♥ Buenos Aires!


Blogger DELETED said ... (4:03 PM) : 

This is beautiful, but still painful for my heart..


Anonymous VOZnewyork said ... (4:04 PM) : 

Warm comments... It is so nice to see any workers in any positions who give respects to clients and who do skillful jobs in an old fashioned way. You can feel the passion...


Blogger Unknown said ... (4:14 PM) : 

V interesting post xxx


Blogger Unknown said ... (4:17 PM) : 

very thoughtful!!!
amazing picture.


Blogger Serena P. said ... (4:18 PM) : 



Blogger Catherine said ... (4:19 PM) : 

There are shoe shine stands in Grand Central. And some shoe repair stores in the city even have the raised up shoe shine chairs inside the shop. I know my shoe repair guy in Astoria has one that I always admire.

Sadly, I don't think it's common practice for women to use shoeshine stands . . . a little unladylike I suppose.

- Catherine at Littlehouse of Style


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:24 PM) : 

I like the idea that the shine administrator managed to use some old coca-cola case for the customer's other foot to rest on. This photo says a lot about daily life.


Blogger pili said ... (4:34 PM) : 

In Lisbon you can see them everywhere and they also use the sock protection.


Anonymous Editors at Style Section LA said ... (4:36 PM) : 

love how he is getting his black sneakers shined! too funny.


Blogger RoseExperience said ... (5:01 PM) : 

I totally agree about shoe shines in the barber shop. Hmm...


Blogger Grace Escudero - The Afeminada said ... (5:08 PM) : 

I'm South American and these shoe-shining stands are very common. I love how a country such as Buenos Aires remains so's the city version of a vintage store.


Blogger La cámara lúcida said ... (5:11 PM) : 

this is my city! and i become you're fan!



Blogger P said ... (5:15 PM) : 

I love how he is getting black runners polished. That has class.


Anonymous tamara said ... (5:23 PM) : 

Maybe my sense is wrong, but I always feel quite uncomfortable about the class discrepancy and weird servile dynamic of getting one's shoes shined. I'm a woman and as another commenter noted, women don't seem to get their shoes shined, but even if they did, I don't think I'd feel comfortable receiving one.

Great photo, though, as always.


Anonymous Paula said ... (5:49 PM) : 

I love this post! Especially because it has some words, beyond the picture...

Thank you S.!!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:49 PM) : 

wonderful !


Blogger Antonella said ... (5:56 PM) : 

Mexico City has the best shoe shiners in the world. The other day my friend @ErickIslas was walking on the street with this adorable pair of brown shoes when this super stylish 'bolero' stopped him, kneeled down, pulled his box-stand up front and started shining Erick's shoe. Out-of-nowhere. He goes 'look at the way you've got your shoe, sir.' Shaking his head in disapproval, expressing a serious concern with this gentleman's look. How about that kind of treat?


Anonymous Istanbulboy said ... (5:56 PM) : 

I see this kind of scene in Istanbul everyday. And here they look so wonderful in their traditional uniform and the still beautifully old-fashioned tools. The good old days from the good old world...



Blogger athena said ... (6:00 PM) : 

¡love your work!
you are the best, honestly..
i mean, you delight me everyday with every picture you take.

kisses, from capital federal!


Blogger Vivian said ... (6:23 PM) : 

In Sydney's strand arcade they have a stand for shoe shiners, and they wear uniform !


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:26 PM) : 

Get the cool... get the cool shoeshine!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:36 PM) : 

I knew a wonderful man named Milton that did old school shoe shine in Portland for years at hotels. I always wondered why more people didnt do it. He told me that it used to be common but people today feel like it is cruel or demeaning to have another person shine their shoes.

So everyone who hesitates - go get your shoes shined, enjoy it, & tip well! ;)


Blogger Notes From ABroad said ... (7:00 PM) : 

They do so many things in charming "old fashioned " ways here ( Buenos Aires).. The way tailors fit you when you need alterations, the way shoemakers repair things, down to the way they wash the sidewalks early every morning ..
I remember Nordstroms in the US used to have a shoe shine man in the mens shoe dept.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:05 PM) : 

this concept exists in NYC check it out here -


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:30 PM) : 

What I find interesting is that the sneakers look like the K-Swiss ones that I am wearing now.


Blogger Ronisha said ... (7:48 PM) : 

fantastic :))


Blogger Ronisha said ... (7:51 PM) : 

I remember seeing this when I was a little girl :)


Blogger Unknown said ... (8:45 PM) : 

I live in Argentina, and its really common to see shoe shine stands that make the same thing, they really have thought their business through!

Most of them are on the streets, but i´ve seen one in a mall too.. while we buy, men get their shine!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:50 PM) : 

they also do that in mexico! i never had tought of it before, i guess i had just taken it for granted...

but how do they manage wothout it?


Anonymous Maryanne said ... (8:56 PM) : 

have seen shoe shiners in penn station at the shoe repair shop.


Blogger UESman said ... (9:26 PM) : 

Totally agree. I'd love it if Paul Mole got some well-trained shoe-shiners. Certainly would make for a full experience: cut, shave, shoeshine. Very rejuvenating, powerful stuff indeed!


Anonymous James said ... (9:34 PM) : 

I agree, in Australia people are starting to understand quality in footwear and one shop in particular has embraced that. The Cloakroom in Brisbane offers shoe shine services as well as making made to measure suiting and shirting!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:52 PM) : 

Get the cool... get the cool shoeshine!

wonderful ¡¡¡¡¡¡
kisssses from Palermo C.F


Blogger Mom (Míriam) said ... (9:56 PM) : 

Here in Brazil the "shiners" do the same way.


Blogger Click on Styles said ... (10:00 PM) : 

Great pic!! in Uruguay, my country, there are many "street shoeshiners"...we are "old fashioned" in the Rio de la Plata!!
did you take photos of street styles in Buenos Aires?? I love the pics you posted of the city!!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:42 PM) : 



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:43 PM) : 



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:09 PM) : 

I'm in Michigan right now and we have an amazing place called the Gentleman's Choice, an old style barber shop with an in-house shoe-shine stand. Unbeatable.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:48 AM) : 

Got one of my first old fashion shoe shines this weekend. Something I will be doing far more often.


Blogger arshad said ... (1:49 AM) : 

Hi its really very nice blog,very useful information..Mobiles


Blogger xx said ... (2:12 AM) : 

I was born and raised in Buenos Aires! This post is lovely. Thank you!


Blogger f. said ... (3:37 AM) : 

in portugal, we still see a lot of this.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:03 AM) : 

Dear Scott
Have ever had yours shoes polish in Brazil... when they start polish promply with a cloth can hear a swing sound like samba!A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:05 AM) : 

If you really liked this you should come to Portugal.
Here's lots of uncommon things as you said.


Blogger 82Brute said ... (7:35 AM) : 

The idea of a shoeshine in a barber shop is brilliant. I've always thought it would be nice to have a foot massage while getting a haircut, but I'm not sure I could work myself up to that much entitlement.


Blogger TheStreetFashion5xpro said ... (8:20 AM) : 

absolutely love this pic...very street


Blogger FH said ... (8:27 AM) : 

Great situation ;-)


Anonymous carl said ... (8:46 AM) : 

sure the idea ideaof shoe shines around barbers and subway stations is great.
the "leather"(esp. the sneaker type) used for ordinary shoes is coated with resin-laquer that will not allow wax to osmote into the materials surface..
only the handmade ones allow that.
former employees of lehmans no in the polishing business should carry hand soap and sponge and soft teeshirt material+nano shine for car detailing to shine modern shoes.


Blogger Sophia said ... (9:50 AM) : 

Great idea. Here in Düsseldorf (Germany) I know one or two shoeshine. They are traditional and also wrap something around the socks.
Great Picture!


Anonymous fern said ... (9:52 AM) : 

romantic and useful both, but in nyc barber shops? who would pay a decent wage to have a shoeshiner....


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:23 AM) : 

I love you Scott. You keep romance alive.


Blogger joseph / jaime (creadores) said ... (3:03 PM) : 

in mexico city, its a big big practice.... i will send you a couple of classic corners were they do it.
they always give a newspaper and offer you a cigarette.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:55 PM) : 

Thanks for keeping the romance alive, Scott! So many insightful little acts of measure across the world that we can put into practice here in America - hopefully!

- Vanessa


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:25 PM) : 

I'm getting my shoes (Mr.Hare shoes!)polished once a week at the Burlington arcade, London and I enjoy every second of it. Takes you back in time!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:43 PM) : 

I love this idea. I used to shine my own shoes regularily once a week to keep them in good trim. Back in my '20's. Now, I don't have time, but I love the look of shoes that are well-maintained.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:57 PM) : 

They use them in Spain and Mexico.


Blogger Autilia Antonucci said ... (8:20 PM) : 

your pictures are truly inspiring !


Blogger ceci a. said ... (9:00 PM) : 

I can t believe you were in Buenos AIres! Mi city! I always dream that you find me on the street en shoot me with your camera!!! When i was in Florence thaught it could happen, but my tourist-like look wouldn t catch your attention.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:38 PM) : 



Blogger Sol said ... (10:10 PM) : 

This picture makes me love my city even more (if possible). Old school charm! I see them everyday, they're in every corner in the Courts/Law firms area!!!

And he's getting his sneakers polished! never seen that! amazing!


Blogger dotLIGHTdot said ... (11:21 PM) : 

how come you didn't even mention the guy's not even gettins his SHOES done.. they are sneakers!!! leather sneakers, that's all!!

i grew up and live here in buenos aires, and this is so common to be seen.. there's a stand INSIDE a very luxurious mall, "galerias pacifico"

you should've get your shoes done while here!!

well, maybe next time =)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:44 PM) : 

I agree that shoe-shining stands should make a comeback, but it's a practice best left to those wearing dress shoes. Shining sneakers is a bit tacky and obsessive.


Blogger Hollie said ... (5:21 PM) : 

lovely image, very nostalgic, i love it.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:26 AM) : 

I was just writing earlier this week about how i would love to see some of the pictures you would take in Buenos Aires. I love some of the fashion trends here! Bs As is stuck in the 80's!
Did you maybe take this on Lavalle or Florida?
Post more pics of Bs As!



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:36 AM) : 

There's a show shine in Trim Salon in Nashville, TN on the guys side. You should visit!


Anonymous Yosi said ... (8:18 AM) : 

In Dominican Republic u can find them every morning in any public park, ready for anyone. But the idea shoe shine mix with old school barber sounds pretty good. Greeting from Barcelona!!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:10 PM) : 

The "King" at Fader's Cigar shop in Baltimore used to protect your shoeshine I ever had. Cigar, the paper and a shine. Heaven.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:30 PM) : 

It's so interesting to see how something shoe shining can still be done in these modern times.


Anonymous Ariane said ... (5:39 PM) : 

this man is so full of charm... BsAs too...


Anonymous kelly said ... (7:14 PM) : 

I've lived in BA for 5 years and to date the best shoe shines I've even received are from here- courteous, attentive, professional, friendly. I don't agree with the comment made that "it breaks her heart." Why? Just because you don't want to shine shoes, it makes it a bad job? In my experience the men who shine shoes here are proud of the work they do, as it is often a tradition in the family. And secondly, as this photo proves (they are just sneakers), there is often very little or no class difference between the customer and the shoe shiner- it isn't and shouldn't be an uncomfortable situation.
Beautiful photo. I'd love to see more from BA!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:24 PM) : 

love to see you came to Buenos Aires. I live there ! hope you enjoyed ur stay. xoxo


Anonymous Annie de E. said ... (12:14 PM) : 

I can't believe you were in Buenos Aires!! And no other pics? I thought you would find interesting styles around, let us risk, San Telmo.

Our shoe-shiners are very thoughtful indeed.


Anonymous Annie de E. said ... (12:26 PM) : 

By the way, in Buenos Aires we call them "lustra-botas" (boot polishers)

Some poeple take more tan one pair at a time to collect them later, al shining as new.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:58 PM) : 

Just like you, I was quite surprise to see this kind of activity in Buenos Aires. One day I was at the 9 de Julio Subte station and I saw in one of the halls, a place where they cut your hair and shine your shoes at the same time. It was unbelievable and very cute to see.

I finished my time with a beautiful tango show that an Argentine friend recommended me. It was an outstanding Tango Dinner Show at Esquina Carlos Gardel that I book trough it was such an incredible experience that allowed me to know more about Buenos Aires culture and traditions.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:24 PM) : 

That plastic ... is a very common practice in México. Great shot!


Anonymous Fede said ... (2:14 PM) : 

Magic B.A.

I love my city and thank u for visit us.

Tango, "limpia botas", boca and love!


Blogger Tiger Fodder said ... (5:54 PM) : 

The practice is common in my native Colombia, as well.


Anonymous joho257 said ... (11:32 AM) : 

One reason I like getting my shoes shined at airports is that most of them use the plastic sock guards. So simple and so effective.


Blogger Fashistanbuller said ... (3:55 AM) : 

When I look at this photograph, the first thing I notice is how the difference of socio-economical status reflects on our bodies. I don't feel that it is a coincidence that the customer is a well-fed gentleman and the polisher is a tiny man.

I'm just trying to say that this picture speaks many more 1000s of words than it looks. More than thoughtfulness, more than fashion...just more.


Anonymous Readmagazines said ... (4:25 PM) : 

Classic! What a cultural photo


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:23 PM) : 

POR FAVOR give us more pictures from Buenos Aires~~ Europe and NYC are great, but I'd love to see looks from the global south!


Anonymous oliver Prout said ... (12:41 PM) : 

Is it me or is that old guy the guy who owns Harrods. What confuses me even more is that he appears to be wearing trainers.

fashion photography


Blogger Unknown said ... (11:50 PM) : 

This practise has nothing special! In Mexico it's very common.


Blogger pumpkin kid said ... (7:08 PM) : 

I'm from Mexico and I have never seen a shoe-shiner who doesn't do that. It's part of the process.


Blogger Marcia said ... (4:51 PM) : 

We have the same in Brazil. And they also have the sock protection stuff.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:55 PM) : 

In NY, there are a few barber shops with shoe shine boys. Check out the barber shop on E41 between Park and Lex, or on E27th between Park and Lex. Super hot. Also, new shoe shine place in the Met Life building above Grand Central has a shoe shine/barber shop in the lobby. You should check out the Hurricane Club -- get a shoe shine while you are having a mojito!


Blogger Kaffeslabberas said ... (4:16 AM) : 

I love the politics in this photo.

The two men is wearing the same outfits. The roles might been switched.


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