Cleaning Sneakers

Some things look better new; some things look better old. Anyone who has ever bought a brand new pair of white Supergas, for example, can you tell you how self-conscious one can get when those bright white uppers are shining from your feet like beacons. It really takes about a dozen wears before they get dirty enough to look good. Any of the sneakers sold by Nike, on the other hand, look best when they’re box fresh.

At the end of every summer, I clean those sneakers I own that I think could use a cleaning. There are a number of different methods for this. My co-writer Pete, for example, mentioned a technique last year involving Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (which are fantastic for cleaning around the house, by the way). Your local supermarket probably has a generic version of the same thing, if you want to save a little money. Just be warned: as Pete mentioned, these are made from melamine foam, which is a mild abrasive that can take the finish off of your shoes.

This past weekend, I tried Jason Markk’s Premium Shoe Cleaner, which is popular among sneakerheads. The kit is simple: there’s a 4oz bottle of cleaning solution and a stiff bristle brush. You dip the brush in water, apply the solution, and scrub away. The combination is surprisingly effective, and the solution is said to be safe on any material (leather, suede, nubuck, canvas, etc). It does take a couple of rounds of cleaning to get things back to like-new conditions, however, and I found that a little elbow grease is needed on the textured sides of rubber soles.

The kit runs for about $16-24 at Amazon, Nordstrom, and other locations, and $12 at Jack Threads. The company also has a store in Los Angeles for more involved sneaker restorations. Unfortunately, as of now, they’ll only take drop-offs, so you have to be in the local area.

(Pictured above: My Engineered Garments x Vans slip-ons, before and after a cleaning. For more examples of people cleaning with a Jason Markk kit, you can check out videos posted on YouTube)

Fourth of July Sales Events

A bunch of retailers are running Fourth of July sales. Note that even if you don’t care for the items I’ve highlighted below, you may want to browse each store’s selections, as many of them have discounts on a wide variety of items. 

  • Brooks Brothers: Brooks’ summer clearance event has begun. Up to 50% off select items. I’m particularly a fan of this sand colored jacket as a spring/ summer outerwear piece. 
  • Gap: Although I’m generally not that crazy about The Gap, I think their undershirts offer a good value. They’re priced at $15 for two, and you can take an additional 10% off with the code GAP4TH at checkout. 
  • Gant: Up to 50% off select items. There are some madras shirts in there you can check out. 
  • Jack Threads: Bass bucks and Supergas for about $50 each. 
  • Lands End Canvas: A ton of shirts on sale for pretty cheap. Their construction isn’t the most well done, and the cuts are sometimes all over the place, but they remain a good option for people on a tight budget. 
  • Levis: Take 20% off orders over $100 and 30% off orders over $150. Use the code SUMMER at checkout
  • Allen Edmonds: Clearance sale on select summer items. These chocolate brown unlined suede chukkas seem like a good deal at $125. 
  • Ovadia and Sons: Significant discounts on outerwear.
  • Far Fetch: A ton of sales going on right now. Just select an item category and mark the brands you’re interested in. 

You can get more sales announcements each week by signing up for the Inside Track

Online Discount Shopping
Since writing at Put This On, I’ve made an effort to talk about how men can build wardrobes on tight budgets. My posts on strategic spending and affordable basics, for example, were written in that spirit. With so many blogs and magazines focusing on outrageously expensive items, I think it’s important to talk about more realistic acquisitions. Men can still look well dressed without spending thousands of dollars a year on clothes. 
If you want the most affordable deals, companies such as Land’s End and J. Crew are probably good places to start. J. Crew is a bit expensive at full retail, but much of their company branded inventory (i.e. non-third party stock) is discounted by 50% or so at the end of the season. 
For something a bit better, you’ll have to turn to online discount houses. This is where higher-end brands tend to be sold for 10-40% of their retail value. Granted, given that these items are extremely expensive in the first place, the sale prices can still be somewhat hefty. However, if you’re looking for high quality items at a better price, these are the places to search.
Flash sites: This model is perhaps the most well known - discounted items are offered at some site for a limited time only. The biggest flash site is Gilt Groupe, but there are many others. Check MyHabit, Jack Threads, Belle & Clive, Ru La La, Ideeli, and HauteLook. The stock at these places really range. There’s a lot of junk, but also everything from Jack Spade to Finamore. If you sign up for an account, some sites give you the option of receiving emails from them, which means you can more easily stay on top of their sales each week. 
Clearance houses: Things that couldn’t sell at retail are often sent here for clearance. Yoox and Three Different are two of the bigger online clearance houses. Again, there’s a lot of junk, and they apparently style their models blindly, but if you know your brands, you can pick up some very good deals. If you don’t, do a little research on StyleForum. 
Online discount boutiques: In addition to the big clearance houses, there are smaller boutiques that acquire their stock through a variety of different means. Malford of London, Virtual Clothes Horse, Shop the Finest, and eHaberdasher are very good ones. There’s also Exquisite Trimmings, which focuses on neckties, pocket squares, and scarves. The inventory at these places tend to be better selected than the big discount houses.
Discounted footwear: A Fine Pair of Shoes and eBay seller sausages234 are two very good sources for discounted shoes. Grapevinehill is mostly unremarkable, but they carry Ralph Lauren footwear, some of which is decent. Finally, there’s Classic Shoes for Men. The photos there aren’t as nice as the ones at the aforementioned sites, but the stock is just as good (if not better). The proprietor, Mr. Sevan Minasian, noted that he’ll throw in a free gift with your order if you mention our site. 
Us: Kind of goes without saying, but there’s also our eBay roundups and Inside Track newsletter. The first includes customized search links to help you find deals on eBay and the second has sales announcements every week. But you already knew that. 
Now, I’m sure few people will remember all those sites next time they’re shopping for something specific, so I suggest you bookmark them somewhere and save them for later. You could save yourself some considerable money if you do. 
(Photo above: An inside look at Gilt Groupe’s warehouse, taken by Notcot)

Online Discount Shopping

Since writing at Put This On, I’ve made an effort to talk about how men can build wardrobes on tight budgets. My posts on strategic spending and affordable basics, for example, were written in that spirit. With so many blogs and magazines focusing on outrageously expensive items, I think it’s important to talk about more realistic acquisitions. Men can still look well dressed without spending thousands of dollars a year on clothes. 

If you want the most affordable deals, companies such as Land’s End and J. Crew are probably good places to start. J. Crew is a bit expensive at full retail, but much of their company branded inventory (i.e. non-third party stock) is discounted by 50% or so at the end of the season. 

For something a bit better, you’ll have to turn to online discount houses. This is where higher-end brands tend to be sold for 10-40% of their retail value. Granted, given that these items are extremely expensive in the first place, the sale prices can still be somewhat hefty. However, if you’re looking for high quality items at a better price, these are the places to search.

  • Flash sites: This model is perhaps the most well known - discounted items are offered at some site for a limited time only. The biggest flash site is Gilt Groupe, but there are many others. Check MyHabitJack ThreadsBelle & CliveRu La LaIdeeli, and HauteLook. The stock at these places really range. There’s a lot of junk, but also everything from Jack Spade to Finamore. If you sign up for an account, some sites give you the option of receiving emails from them, which means you can more easily stay on top of their sales each week. 
  • Clearance houses: Things that couldn’t sell at retail are often sent here for clearance. Yoox and Three Different are two of the bigger online clearance houses. Again, there’s a lot of junk, and they apparently style their models blindly, but if you know your brands, you can pick up some very good deals. If you don’t, do a little research on StyleForum
  • Online discount boutiques: In addition to the big clearance houses, there are smaller boutiques that acquire their stock through a variety of different means. Malford of LondonVirtual Clothes HorseShop the Finest, and eHaberdasher are very good ones. There’s also Exquisite Trimmings, which focuses on neckties, pocket squares, and scarves. The inventory at these places tend to be better selected than the big discount houses.
  • Discounted footwear: A Fine Pair of Shoes and eBay seller sausages234 are two very good sources for discounted shoes. Grapevinehill is mostly unremarkable, but they carry Ralph Lauren footwear, some of which is decent. Finally, there’s Classic Shoes for Men. The photos there aren’t as nice as the ones at the aforementioned sites, but the stock is just as good (if not better). The proprietor, Mr. Sevan Minasian, noted that he’ll throw in a free gift with your order if you mention our site. 
  • Us: Kind of goes without saying, but there’s also our eBay roundups and Inside Track newsletter. The first includes customized search links to help you find deals on eBay and the second has sales announcements every week. But you already knew that. 

Now, I’m sure few people will remember all those sites next time they’re shopping for something specific, so I suggest you bookmark them somewhere and save them for later. You could save yourself some considerable money if you do. 

(Photo above: An inside look at Gilt Groupe’s warehouse, taken by Notcot)