A lot of what I try to do in my clothing and wardrobe purchases (and life in general) involves minimalism and sustainability. I don’t want to own too many things, and I don’t want to buy things too often (as making things generates waste) and when I do buy things, I try to buy from sustainable brands. I generally only own two pairs of sneakers at a time, but these typically get the most use out of all the shoes I own, and therefore wear down pretty quickly. I’m also a mechanical engineer, so I’m often in dirty, industrial environments. Good-quality shoes might not break or get holesas easily, but they get beat up and stained to the point that I can’t wear them and look reasonably presentable. How can I make sure my shoes stay nice for longer?
To this end, I decided that part of what I need to do is invest more in not only items themselves, but also in the care of my items. Something I’ve learned over time is that buying good quality is not enough–you also need to treat your things well and take care of them if you want them to really last a long time. I read a review about the Jason Markk “Repel” spray from one of my favorite publications, The Strategist, and since I needed to replace my beat-up sneakers after taking them through hell and back in Shanghai and Zimbabwe, I thought this would be the perfect time to get some high-quality shoe care products. If I owned a pre-treating spray ahead of time, I could treat my sneakers with a protective coating when they were fresh out of the box, and hopefully, prolong their life for more than a year. And I kept one of the beat-up pairs–it’s been cleaned, but still very stained/scuffed/scratched/etc.–so that when I have to do ‘dirty’ work like machining parts, I’ll have some sacrificial shoes, as I like to think of them.
I got the Jason Markk travel kit for the washcloth + brush + solution + wipes, and then a bottle of the “Repel” spray separately, all via a Need Supply black friday promo (these products are unfortunately hard to find on sites like Amazon, but maybe that’s a good thing if you think about it). The Repel spray seems like a sizable amount, especially since you don’t actually use much of it when you treat your shoes. I think I could probably get about 20-30 treatments out of this thing.
I bought two new pairs of shoes, and decided to test out Repel the best way I could think of: on a pair of blindingly bright white Nikes.
I probably should have removed the laces before treating my shoes, but I
was too lazy just sprayed over them. Though this is probably true of any protective spray, I found it hard to tell if I’d applied it correctly or thoroughly, since it goes on transparent. I generally tried to spray a bunch everywhere I could, and then when the product started to bead up in some places, I figured my sneakers had been fully saturated. Then, as per instructions, I dabbed at any excess product with the cloth from the travel kit. I let my shoes sit/cure for 24 hours, sprayed them again, and waited another 24 hours. This is a full two days, but if you are not like me and actually have other shoes to wear in your closet, it shouldn’t be a problem.
I wanted to see how well the protective coating performed, so while I didn’t go so far as to jump in puddles with my sneakers on, I went about my weekend normally, ending with a pretty dirty place. I walked around Cambridge, I went to a dance class, and then, since a friend was in town, I went with her to a club. I was fairly nervous about my white shoes at that point, since the club is maybe as bad as a machine shop–spilled drinks on the floor, sweaty people, sweaty people that could spill drinks on the piece of floor where you happen to be standing. After dancing and ending the night around 2AM at Peach Farm in Chinatown (highly recommend, great food, open til 4AM), I went home and examined my sneakers in the morning. Still pretty bright, still pretty white. There were a few marks here and there, but I wiped them away with just a baby wipe, opting for that instead of a few of the shoe wipes included in the travel kit, which I’m sure would do an even better job. But with only a baby wipe, I thought the end result was a good example of how “Repel” performs on its own.
I spent a few more days running around in streets full of melting snow etc, and again, so far so good. Any dirt marks were pretty easily wiped away with a baby wipe, I haven’t felt the need to break out the Jason Markk shoe wipes yet (I’m assuming they’re stronger but we’ll see how they perform.
A “before” cleaning photo–they did get some dirt on them…
…but much easier to clean with just some water!
All in all, I give the Jason Markk Repel spray a solid 8/10 for now. I went ahead and treated my second pair of sneakers, the Nike Air Huarache City Low, which is mostly black and made of cloth netting, very different. As my shoes get dirty over time, I’ll also see how the Jason Markk travel cleaning kit and wipes perform.
We’ll see how well Repel holds up over time, constant shoe abuse, and reapplications, which would push my rating up or down, and I’ll update this post then! I’ll also at some point have to break out the cleaning solution etc., and review those too~