The world of sneakers is ever changing for various reason. Models, designers, trends, and even popularity can change with generation, demographic and use. While there are few core rules that have never really changed such as fakes, or knock-off brands never being ok; some things have changed. One of those things is the condition of shoes that has become acceptable. And honestly that acceptable standard can actually vary by age range and by location as well as a few other things. It is definitely something that intrigues me, and can spark up a good conversation with any and everyone who has any sort of interest in the sneaker world. Asking someone what is still considered wearable or up until what point is a shoe to be retired; is liable to cause a debate that will never be solved; but let’s just see if we can seem to aid in anyway.
For starters lets break this down by the age range and a little history. If we speak to the OGs of the sneaker world, they may have the harshest perspective on this topic. Most of them feel once they no longer look crisp or newer they are done. These guys may not be putting much cleaning efforts into their kicks and just pass these “done” kicks down to the lesser fortunate or younger relatives. It has been a staple and general procedure for as long as I can remember. I have heard older sneaker fans say Air Forces can only be worn once, and that Timberlands have maybe a solid five wears in them. My generation Early 20s to early 30s kind of see it a little bit different. I came up in the era of once the crease they are for store runs and other errands or outdoor hooping; and that’s no matter the shoe. In my eyes creases are arguably the ugliest thing that can happen to a shoe. So for me at that point they are goners. This was so much the standard during my younger years that we adjusted the way we step just to reduce the chances of creasing and create a little longer wear life. I guess the years of doing it as a kid has made it my natural walk as an adult, but I can definitely get a lot of wear out of most my kicks.
Now in complete contrast to my demographic and the 90s and prior era, is a current standard that I personally am not so much a fan of. In these times you will see people wearing beaters just because they are OG or prestigious. That’s really something that I cannot cosign, but you know what, to each his own. The mystique and argument of better quality has these wearers proudly wearing these very worn kicks. A lot of the time they will buy them for reasonable prices on the sneaker aftermarket, with some to little life wear in them and basically wear them until they are literally falling apart. It is not so much the condition of the shoe that’s important to these folks, but more the allure and clout that is key. The reason it is toughest for me to align with this view is. One because shoes rerelease so often, and two for those that argue quality, manufacturers are now doing as much as they can to make rereleases as near as possible to the original. I can give a pass to shoes never coming out again but they have to be a minimum of a seven out of ten, and possibly be able to be “brought back”.
Which brings me to the part that goes with the name of this piece. I just recently did my first restore of a shoe, and they actually look pretty damn good. There are certain situations when a shoe has to be revitalized. This shoe can be like that saying “There is no such thing as a bad dog, there are only bad owners”. Which just means the previous owner of said shoe did not treat them with as much care as they should have; but maybe after some cleaning, a lace swap, and minor reshaping this shoe can be a killer again. That’s minimal work to be honest. There are times when shoes can need crease removal, sole swaps, regluing, and repainting. But, the payoff can be tremendous. In my case the pair I was working with is a pair of Fairfax Nike Air LeBron IIIs, which can retail for over $1700 easily. I got them for under $150 and they are now almost like new. Truthfully the shoe was dead-dead, like needed to be buried or lobbed on to a power-line. This is a common practice now. Many people will restore past gems and flip them for a substantial profit. It’s one of most profitable and innovative industries on the rise at moment. This has also cause the sneaker care market to increase with products like, Crep, Jason Markk, and Reshoevn8r being at the forefront.
So has this helped? Do you have any greater understanding of when and how long a shoe can be worn? Of course the views can vary as you have seen above, but there are some similarities in a bunch of situations. It seems in the majority of cases the shoe should look new, being that there is pretty much one reason to wear beat down kicks. But, even with that beaters are being given the Frankenstein treatment and getting a second chance at life. So keep wearing your kicks, just try and keep them in decent condition whether they are handed down or sold as soles for some unsuspecting soul.