Men’s Fashion Street Style Style

How to Keep Your White Sneakers White

Time was, only sneakerheads demanded spotless athletic footwear. You could find them obsessively toothbrushing their Jordans indoors while regular people walked through mud puddles outside. But now we all understand, with clean sneakers increasingly a part of our daily style and the adidas Stan Smith trending hard (the classic version best worn WHITE like burning magnesium)–freshness is a must when you care about your sneakers. So: How to keep your white sneakers white? It takes a little elbow grease. And tools.

Los Angeles-based Jason Markk is the go-to name in sneaker-cleaning for a reason: the brand’s stylish brushes, microfiber towels, protective sprays and cleaning fluids (made from coconut and jojoba extracts) get the job done handily, enabling you to breathe a sigh of relief the next time someone smudges your Smiths–or god forbid, the white suede on your Sambas.

The man himself was a cool customer on the phone–that would be Jason Mark Angsuvarn, aka JBoy, entrepreneur and also DJ in the Moodswing Crew going back to ’96. He shared a little backstory and a lot of useful info:

I was never a one-brand guy, growing up. I wore everything from Nike, to adidas, to K-Swiss, to British Knights, Fila, Reebok, New Balance. The first shoe I remember wearing and loving was the Nike Flight ’89. For me it was about being into sports, and then hip-hop. Getting into sneakers was just a natural thing.

I didn’t invent shoe cleaner, but there was an open lane for someone to get the branding right and fulfill that need. I used to go around to sneaker boutiques and ask people what they used to clean their shoes. They said a white eraser, bleach, household products … I realized that everyone was relying on home remedies.

For a shoe with a mesh toe box [ed: like many of the Nike Air Max styles], I recommend stuffing the shoe or using your hand to press up on the mesh from inside the shoe while you’re cleaning it with the brush. It really makes a huge difference versus brushing the mesh with no pressure underneath.

For suede, people are afraid of getting it wet, rightly so. But it’s really about how you treat the suede after it’s been doused in water and solution. If you’re not careful, the suede can get hard. So follow the directions on the bottle, scrubbing with the premium brush to get the stain or dirt off. Then pick up a microfiber towel and dab the suede, and twist. Dab and twist. Dab and twist. We call it the dab-and-twist method. It’s soaking up the fluid and loosening up the nap of the suede. Then let it dry, and take your dry brush and brush the suede to the back of the shoe. Let it sit for a while longer and brush the suede again. It’s really a process. It’s something to do while you’re watching the game. You want to bring that nap back.

Shop: Jason Markk | adidas Stan SmithMen’s sneakers
Images by Yves Huy Truong and courtesy Jason Angsuvarn
–Andrew Matson