Maintenance: Sneaker Rehab with Mr. Clean

I never advocate fussy treatment of sneakers—boxfresh is nice and all but most improve with a little dirt and creasing. When simple canvas sneakers like Vans authentics or Chucks get too far gone, they can be tossed in a washing machine, but what to do with leather is less clear.

A potential solution: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Kyle (previously featured as a Real Person) recently uploaded before-and-after photos of his Pierre Hardy sneakers, which he’s been wearing on and off since 2009. He scrubbed them with a Magic Eraser, added new laces, and they’re looking 4 years younger. I’m going to try this out on an older pair of Nike Dunks as soon as I can.

Some caveats—the eraser pads are made of melamine foam, a whiz-bang space-age product that’s mildly abrasive, like an incredibly fine sandpaper. It took all the dirt off Kyle’s kicks, and the original glossy finish, too. If you’re concerned about that, test it out on an inconspicuous spot before you attack your Margielas. Kyle also said that the eraser was less effective on the rubber sole than on the leather upper. For suede sneakers, I’ve found suede cleaning kits (which often include a traditional, rubber eraser and a brush) effective, and would expect the Magic Eraser to be less so.


Real People: A Light Palette for Summer Denim

In the summer swelter of the mid-Atlantic, I try to hang in there with jeans but eventually succumb and put on a pair of shorts. I enjoy the comfort of shorts and even like a lot of styles (fatigue shorts!), but I try to dress to my advantages and pants are more flattering on me, and they keep the mosquitoes at bay.

These shots from Kyle in New York (left, with hat) and Tom in Toronto show that heavily washed denim (a.k.a. dad jeans) and a lighter overall color palette can make for more interesting warm weather wear than the default cotton shorts and a tshirt or polo. Tom’s shirt jacket is an ideal summer layer (at least in Canada) and his vintage Levi’s (Not LVC or big E or anything, just plain old old Levi’s) are an underrated blue the shade of a June sky.  The lower contrast among the pieces suits the season, and there’s nothing left to the mosquitoes.

The jeans Kyle is wearing are more heavily distressed in a way I’d like my raw jeans to get, but they always fall to pieces before they make it. They’re a defense of predistressed denim, or maybe just washing your jeans. Like Tom, he’s wearing several interesting items but only one strong pattern.  Both Kyle and Tom stick with lighter colors that won’t absorb as much light or emit as much heat as darker tones, and so are more likely to be comfortable in direct sunlight, although Kyle relaxes victoriously in the shade of a backyard patio.

The danger with heavily washed jeans of course is the “full dad”—avoid wearing them with shapeless polo shirts and walking shoes, comfy as that might sound. Simple white canvas sneakers like Tom’s chucks are ideal, or suede shoes in the vicinity of tan.