7 Rituals Sneakerheads Perform Before Wearing a New Pair of Shoes
There are few sensory highs that can be compared to That New Shoe Feeling. Whether it’s the parentally allocated once-a-year purchase or the almost-daily exchange with the couriers, anyone remotely interested in sneakers will definitely have a routine they carry out before rocking their latest acquisition. For some, it’s not just a routine – it’s a ritual they have to perform before their new sneakers are decreed wearable. Here are seven sacred acts that need to be completed as part of the ‘undeadstocking’ ceremony.
That New Shoe Feeling is comprised of five senses, and one of them is That New Shoe Smell. Admit it: there’s nothing better than lifting the lid on a box-fresh pair of sneakers, moving the packing paper aside, and taking a big ol’ whiff. There’s a French word, sillage, which describes the ‘wake’ left by the passing aroma of perfume. It’s the same story with sneakers. Leather and rubber scents can vary from shoe to shoe. Chromexcel smells different to epoxy. Stick to sniffing new shoes – lest the nostrils inhale the distinct non-DS dank of toe jam. Mmmm.
A brilliant sneaker writer once penned an impassioned exposition on the value of looking after sneakers properly to extend their lifespan. One of the pearls of wisdom shared was to remove the material composition sticker from the insoles at earliest convenience. Otherwise, the sticker’s adhesive would melt into the insole’s fabric liner and become near impossible to remove without leaving a mess. So, what better time to liberate that label then while the shoes are still unworn? Do note that removal of this sticker annuls deadstock status, so peel carefully. Also, please stick the label inside the box lid for future reference.
Factory lacing is just that: the default way the laces are threaded through the shoes in the factory. The high KPIs of sneaker manufacture mean laces are often haphazardly pulled across the eyelets before moving onto the next pair. This means twists and mismatched lengths galore. Just because it’s how the laces come out of the box doesn’t mean they have to stay that way before the shoes touch the pavement. Take the time to undo the laces all the way out, consult lacing guides for the preferred arrangement, and lovingly tie a bow – or keep your laces loose! Or, just wear shoes with Velcro straps.
As the Internet Age–old adage goes, ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’. In a digital sneaker world of information overload and feed flooding, it’s essential to let everyone else know what your latest cop was. Beyond the chase for clout, more organised sneakerheads will also take the opportunity to photograph their new shoes before wearing them for the purposes of documentation. Some may even add these pics to an extensive and meticulously maintained catalogue. Sound like anyone you know? The quality of today’s smartphones and digital cameras means the equipment can no longer be blamed for shoddy shots. Check out this refresher on sneaker photography here.
It almost seems paradoxical to put a brand new pair of shoes away as soon as they arrive but, if all things go well, they’ll be a part of the rotation and collection for a long time to come. That means they need to find a place to be safely stored and easily accessed. Factors like box dimensions, intended frequency of wear, or even shoebox colour come into play. No matter the criteria, new additions to the shoe collection will need a place to call home, even if that necessitates a complete rearrange.
Pre-treating sneakers with waterproofing sprays is a contentious topic. Some sneakerheads will coat their new sneakers in at least seven coats of their preferred proofer – with a day between sprays to maximise cure time – before even stepping outside. While less retentive types will rock out with their kicks out, au naturale straight from the box (not before relacing, of course). They say prevention is the best cure, so whether that’s applying liquid DWR, saving suede sneakers for fair weather days, or simply not stepping into puddles, pick the optimal day to break out that new pair.
That moment has finally arrived. The sneakers are fit for personal consumption. Wear some new socks, carefully pop on the new pair of shoes, tie a nice knot (or let the laces hang loose), and savour that Air-y popping moment. Until the lure of the sneaker siren call is too enticing to resist. Then repeat the above rituals all over again.