Kiwi’s sad exit from the UK makes me yearn for the days when people dressed properly

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Funny how emotional we can feel about something we haven’t seen or thought about for years when it’s threatened with extinction. Postcards, pork scratchings, bibles in the drawers of hotel room bedside tables: where have these things gone? And now we can add Kiwi shoe polish to the list of the dear departed.

I think I may even have cried out “no!” when I read on New Year’s Day that the manufacturer is to stop selling the polish in the UK.

According to Kiwi, which was once a household name, it is still used by the armed forces and accounts for more than half the polish sold globally, but “a fall in the number of Britons polishing their shoes” and “a rise in casual shoes that don’t require formal polishing” means that it will soon be a thing of the past.

I find this disproportionately sad. Because other countries haven’t ditched their little tubs of Kiwi “prestige black.” Because I care about shiny shoes. But most of all because I care about everything Kiwi shoe polish represents: formality, pride in one’s appearance and non-disposable fashion.

But there’s something else. Something I suspect is at the root of the pang I felt. When I think of Kiwi I think of men in pressed suits and ties reading their Telegraphs at shoe-shining stations. I think of briefcases, money-clips, cufflinks, collar stiffeners and Cary Grant. All the weird and wonderful paraphernalia that sums up the old-fashioned male. So they can take away the postcards, the pork scratchings and the bibles if they insist, but if it promises not to be toxic, can we please keep masculinity?