How sneaker restoration has grown the shoe repair market over the past decade and why sustainable shoe services are important to a sustainable future.

February 6th, 2023 – Written by James Green

Why sustainable sneaker services are key to a greener future

If you’ve spent any time on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Or YouTube Shorts, you might’ve come across the viral sneaker repair videos that show the process of a sneaker going from dusty, crusty old sneakers to clean, like new, and ready to wear condition. This process is called Sneaker Restoration. Sneaker Restoration is the process of taking a sneaker that has been worn or damaged and providing the sneaker with the services it needs to get the closest possible to a like-new condition. These services may include cleanings, paint re-application, re-glues, sole-swaps, suede re-dye, and more. These services restore the value of the shoe by extending the life of the materials that make up the sneaker. For Ex. the Suede on sneakers can get stiff, faded, and covered in dirt and gunk over time; With quality suede care the material can be restored to a clean buttery texture that can be brushed back and forth. 

How sneaker restoration has revitalized the art of shoe cobbling and is helping with overconsumption

When we talk about the rise of sneaker restoration we must start by acknowledging that traditional shoe repair with a cobbler has been around for a couple of centuries now. However, sneakers were not designed to be repaired. Sneakers were designed and manufactured to be worn and when they are torn up they would be discarded to spend the rest of their life cycle in the landfill. Many traditional cobblers who work on leather shoes and bags do not have the skill set required to offer a quality repair job on a sneakerheads favorite sneakers, leaving sneakerheads with limited options when their sneakers are beaten up or falling apart because of age. The sneaker life cycle looked like this for decades and to this day millions of shoes still end up in landfill each year. As the cost of sneakers increased and sneaker culture became more widespread across more cultural backgrounds, hobbyists where facing the issue of not having a quality solution for the repair of their sneakers. We can thank visual platforms like Instagram and YouTube for the rise of popularity and virality of sneaker restoration. YouTubers like @sneakerheadinthebay and @JohnManollo had thousands of subscribers in the early 2010s with content that primarily focused on educating their viewers on how they were restoring their vintage sneakers that were severely damaged or falling apart from age. This content sparked a generation of passionate sneakerheads that would learn the skills necessary to restore their favorite kicks at the highest level. Now the sneaker restoration culture is filled with young entrepreneurs passionate about sneakers and giving those sneakers new life. From teenagers in their parent’s garage Sole Swapping 1994 Bred 4’s to the passionate OG sneakerhead who is repainting their classic Jordan 1 Chicago’s, sneaker restoration is a market of many different faces and backgrounds. You can now find sneaker restoration and shoe repair content across all of your favorite social media platforms. People love to see a beautiful transformation and you will find an infinite amount of before and after content on the different sneaker repair pages.

The Environmental Impact of Sneakers in a world of Fast Fashion

The fast-paced fashion industry has earned its nickname “Fast Fashion” by perpetuating an unsustainable cycle of High-End brands creating looks on runways that are then recreated by Fashion Brands that are mass-produced at low cost and lower qualities. This cycle has led to now decades of garments, some barely worn, ending up in Oceans, Landfills, and in many cases buried or burned damaging the local environment. Part of the sneaker industry that also negatively impacts the environment is the large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere during the manufacturing process, which makes up for about 1.4% of GHG (Green House Gasses) in the world. The manufacturing process is also in many cases exploiting impoverished overseas workers for labor at unlivable wages. For at least the past decade the fashion industry has been named one of the top contributing industries to climate change. The leading companies in the sneaker industry are no less guilty of unsustainable business practices than other fashion brands. Many major sneaker companies do not have a plan for their product’s end-of-life cycle, leaving consumers with limited sustainable options to find their own ways to discard the products. This leads to millions of pairs ending up in the landfill each year to sit there for multiple decades to come breaking down into harmful micro-plastics to harm our soil & water ways or be incinerated and releasing harmful chemicals into the local environment’s air. Thankfully, environmental sustainability has become a growing conversation in the space, pushing larger companies to move towards greenwashing their brands and exploring more sustainable business practices. Simultaneously the rise of sneaker restoration and the popularity of upcycling has created new opportunities to reduce sneaker waste and extend the lifecycle of consumers’ favorite products. This is why FIXMYKIX has committed itself to serve and supporting Cobblers, Artists, and all shoe repair and customization service providers so that they can increase their capacity and reach of their services. Offering consumers more sustainable alternatives to extend their beloved sneaker’s life cycle and supporting the artist’s innovators, shoe repair experts, and innovators committed to interrupting fast fashion as well as committed to staying fly and practicing self-expression through fashion.

Leave a Reply