A chat with London’s finest shoe shiner!


Image source: Twitter
Romi Topi in action!

Not only do we love our shoes here at Samuel Windsor, but we also love looking after them.

So to give us more of an insight into the world of shoe care, we spoke to the wonderful Romi Topi, owner and operator of Shoe Shine Service Ltd.

After coming to the UK from Albania, he learnt the lingo, set up a business, and it’s still going strong. Found in London’s Burlington Arcade, he’s the chap to go to for all your shoe shining needs. We have video evidence to prove it!

But first, let’s see what Romi has got to say.

How did you get into shoe shining?
Simply by passing by in the Burlington Arcade in March 2001.

I was desperate to find work and back then it was difficult for me to find a job as I was busy learning English till late in the day. One day I saw Michel, the previous shoe shiner in the Burlington Arcade, I watched him for a week from far and copied most of the technique and style he used, and I set myself up in Jermyn Street outside the church.

What kit do you usually take with you?

top shine shoe shine kit

Image source: Shoe Shine Service
Shining awesome!

In the past I used to take all my stuff with me in a suitcase, however now I have all my equipment in place. It’s my TopShine shoe shine kit, and it has all the bits I need to do my job.

What kinds of customers do you have?
My customers are those who pay attention to their shoes as much as they do for their outfit every time they leave their homes for an important meeting or their normal daily routine.

What’s your favourite type of shoe to shine?
Every shoe is important to me, because the moment my customers wear them that means those shoes are important to them.

What is your best tip for shining?
Don’t overdo it on shoe polish. Less is more.

And what’s the best bit of advice a customer has given you?
If you believe in something and put 110% you can archive anything you want.

What are the worst shoes you have ever had to deal with?
Cavalier high shine boots or horse riders’ dirty boots.

What do you do when someone comes to you with a pair of Air Jordans?
I tell them to get real shoes!

One thing we’ve always wondered is, how do you keep the polish off the socks?
Experience, I believe, is critical. And always apply polish below the edge.

If you had to pick one famous person’s shoes to shine, who would it be and why?
The Queen, it doesn’t get any bigger than her Majesty the Queen. It would be a real privilege to shine her shoes.

About Romi Topi

romi topi shining shoes

Image source: Jonathan Aves

Romi Topi moved to the UK from Albania and began shining shoes to pay the bills. Now he is the owner of Shoe Shine Service Ltd. Based in Burlington Arcade, Picadilly, he has become one of the most well known names in shoe shining. Romi has been featured in GQ Magazine, has shined the shoes of David Gandy and Michael Flatley and now sells his own products, from shoe trees to shoe care kits.

Posted in Men's shoes.