Whether you’re camping out overnight to cop the latest drop or not, caring for your crepes has become serious business in the style community. Not only are people spending more than ever on trainers, but we’re also taking steps to ensure our kicks aren’t ruined by surprise rainstorms or pint spills.
We asked doyen of the sneaker care game, Jason Markk of Jason Markk Premium Shoe Care, to fix the five most common mistakes men make and ensure – whether they’re box-fresh or you’ve been wearing them for years – your sneakers always look street style-ready.
Mistake: You’re Not Using A Water And Stain Repellent
Fix: Use A Water And Stain Repellent, Obviously
Water and stain repellents are big business, and that’s because they work. For any absorbent upper, whether nubuck or suede, it’s a smart idea to get them protected.
“Our spray is water-based and creates a breathable barrier that helps potential stains simply bead off,” explains Markk. Spray the whole shoe, leave overnight and repeat.
But don’t waste your time with these products if you’ve opted for a premium leather sneaker like those from Common Projects or Axel Arigato; they’re already sealed, and while stains can be easily wiped off you need to be more concerned about scuffs.
Jason Markk 8oz Repel Pump Spray, available at Size?, priced £12.
Mistake: You’re Not Cleaning Them Regularly Enough
Fix: Wipe Them Down Once A Week
Or as soon as they get dirty. “Allowing any stain to sink in and dry is going to make it more difficult to clean,” says Markk. “And even if you’ve used a repellent or your trainers are leather, laces and stitching are still absorbent and can be stained easily.”
While Markk admits to a rather obsessive daily wipe-down of his sneakers and the use of his own Quick Wipes, all that’s really necessary is acting on proper stains the day they happen along with a weekly maintenance wipe-down to keep general wear to a minimum.
Jason Markk Quick Wipes 3 Pack, available at Size?, priced £3.
Mistake: You’re Not Taking Care Of Your Laces
Fix: Wash And Swap Out Your Laces Regularly
Laces get dirty and dull, too. So dirty in fact that they can stain the area around the eyelets and the tongue below as well. “Cleaning or swapping to the extra set of laces in the box is one of the most underrated ways of rejuvenating a set of sneakers,” says Markk.
Simply take them out and wash them in soapy water – using bleach or rubbing them will cause them to fray – before wringing out, hanging to dry and then finally re-lacing.
Mistake: You Store Them In A Pile At The Bottom Of Your Cupboard
Fix: Keep Hold Of The Box And Store Them In There
OK, if you’re completely kicks-mad then housing 50 pairs in their boxes can make your bedroom a little crowded, but if your sneaker cycle revolves around five or so pairs then taking your storage seriously is worth any issues with space.
Chucking your shoes in the bottom of your cupboard can lead to creases and cracks in leather, as well as warping that will be impossible to reverse.
“What a lot of people don’t realise is that dust also gets in all the creases and crevices of your shoes when they’re left out, accelerating the pace at which they get dirty,” reveals Markk. Keeping them in their original box will not only help keep them clean, but it’ll earn you some serious kudos for your commitment to the cause, too.
Mistake: You’re Not Using Shoe Trees
Fix: Invest In A Set Relative To The Price Of Your Sneakers
Now, shoe trees may seem a bit excessive (and more at home in the domain of dress shoes like Oxfords), but the principle is the same whether you’re rocking Russell & Bromley or Reebok.
There are two options to choose from, and the one you plump for should match what you paid for your sneakers in the first place. Inexpensive plastic shoe trees will stretch out leather to stop creasing and cracking, helping them maintain their high-end appeal, “but investing in cedar shoe trees is the ultimate goal because they maintain shape but wick away moisture, too,” explains Markk.
This not only stops any discolouration, but also prevents your sneakers starting to smell. Useful if you want to get the mankles out once in a while (without gassing bystanders).