A recent popular trend has been to stretch shoes by putting a bag of water in them and freezing it. Correctly identifying that water does expand when frozen, and when that happens it stretches out your shoes. Leather shoes are meant to stretch a little, and it’s a service most cobblers will offer, so the idea is to save a little money and do it at home.
I will always recommend using professional shoe stretching services and equipment.
Used with persmission ©Bob McInnes
However take a pair of shoes to a good cobbler, and he sometimes says he can’t do it, that’s not because he’s rude, or lazy, I’m grateful to him for being honest. The truth is some shoes aren’t suitable for stretching, and if you try to it’s most likely going to damage the shoes. Plastic, fabric, mesh are materials that have a little give but won’t retain that shape, and will also very easily crack or split, so they’re totally unsuitable for any stretching technique.