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Please, Look After Your Sneakers

Date: March 22 2020

By: Minh Vuong

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Yeah, shoes are meant to be worn, but let’s be better to them. Beyond keeping them clean and rotating through multiple pairs, there are many bad practices slowly killing Grails and daily drivers. These may just be the idle ramblings of a grumpy git focussing on the wrong things, or a rather concerned call for better treatment of sneakers, but here is a damning list of bad habits, plus some ways to rectify them.

Heel Scuffing

Many are too lazy to loosen their laces entirely and remove their shoes by hand, instead crashing down on the heel to quickly pop their foot out. Vintage lovers, look away! Stepping on the heel of older sneakers may cause delamination between the upper and the midsole or, even worse, make the foam completely crumble away! When dealing with high tops, even more force is required to peel the foot out. Just don’t.

Instead, sit down, undo the knot, pull the centre point of where the laces cross over the foot so you can properly loosen the laces, and go down at least a few pairs of eyelets. Then, with both hands, hold the side of the ankle collar and pull the shoe away from the foot. Voila!

Dior B23 Crushed Heel

Image credit: Subtle Asian Traits Facebook group

Reebok Cluc C 85 Mule

Reebok Club C Mule

Crushing Counters

The heel counter is a hard piece of material between the upper and lining that cups the heel, keeping it in place. Despite this essential function, many choose to step onto the counters, folding and crushing them against the insole.

It’s common practice with plimsoll style sneakers like Converse Chuck Taylors, Vans Eras and Authentics, but lately the Yeezy BOOST 350 V2 has been a popular mule conversion too. People are even choosing to step on the heels of the $1000 Dior B23 Low!

Rather than permanently damage perfectly working sneakers and pressure points, opt for mule-ready sneakers. Reebok have done it with the Club C, and Nike have had a solid Air-soled mule line-up over the years. Vans and Converse literally have mule versions of their classics. Just do it.

The Lace Issue

If time is of the essence, and slipping on sneakers is an absolute necessity, at least have the decency to lace them up properly. Nothing is more irksome to behold than a pair of shoes taken straight out of the box, then popped on-foot. Worse yet, tying the knot behind the tongue to facilitate an easy on-off. Yeugh! 

Please, have the decency to relace sneakers with a nice inverted pyramid shape, whereby the width of opposing eyelets is narrowest at the throat and widest at the tongue. Laces are to go through the top of the eyelet – so keeping the knot behind the tongue is acceptable in this case.

This does lead to another problem though…

Flailing Aglets

Ideally, the foot is secured in the shoe with adequately tightened laces. Cutting off circulation to the ankles is counter-productive and, quite frankly, uncomfortable. Refer to the above guideline on the inverted pyramid: if it’s the other way around, something’s definitely gone wrong. Big knots are bad. Generally speaking, if the lace aglets are dragging on the ground, the knot is way too tight.

Let the feet breathe! Avoiding excessive tightening of laces creates less wear and tear on the eyelets and maintains the upper’s shape for much longer. See those welts on choked kicks? Easily preventable with a light hand on the shoe strings.

Sticky Insoles

The insole sticker generally denotes the material composition of the sneaker it’s stuck in. It’s also a lint magnet – so why is it still there? The longer it’s left on when worn, the more the adhesive backing melts into the insole, and the harder it gets to peel the pesky tag off.

Rip it off. Quick and painless, like a band-aid. Do it the moment before a new shoe gets un-deadstocked. Please.

Won’t somebody please think of the sneakers? Scuffs, broken parts, and choked ankles can be a thing of the past if some extra care is taken. So, please, look after your sneakers.

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