As is evident by the growth of our sneaker segment on here, the sneaker market has boomed in South Africa, even since the start of the year, when I last posted an op-ed. What’s great about the continued rise is that we’re seeing a more diverse range of sneakers landing on our shelves, in addition to already established brands bringing in more high-profile silhouettes as well. As the range of premium sneakers hit the streets, we also need think more about how to keep them looking fresh and clean. There have been many services also popping up, thanks to the growth, but there’s one that paved the way before any other. Sneaker Lab has been supplying stores across the country, namely Sportscene, with its cleaning products for consumers, and has made a name for itself as the leading sneaker care product in the country. I popped into its store in Braamfontein, Johannesburg to test out the cleaning service, and discuss some of the ins and outs of the cleaning business.
Most sneakerheads will know the feeling of trying to keep their pride and joy in good condition, and giving it a wash every so often. Back in my varsity days, I’d have monthly wash days for 4 or 5 pairs of sneakers at a time, making sure that they looked shiny and new come Monday. But, things have changed quite a lot since then, with many sneakers now created using specialised materials that wouldn’t react well to normal washing detergents and the likes. That’s where services such as those offered by Sneaker Lab gives you peace of mind knowing they have the product and expertise to take care of your sneakers as you would. Service is key in the industry, and knowing you’re handing over one of your prized sneakers to be cleaned by someone who is knowledgeable about the materials, and is also a sneakerhead at heart, makes a big difference.
While the premises is fairly small, it’s perfectly setup to handle both the drop-offs and on-the-go cleaning services. The middle section of the store is dedicated to facilitate the deep cleaning of your sneakers, while the front portion of the store is fitted with a seat for walk-in services. There’s also a “drying shelf” in the back housing all the newly cleaned sneakers, which is used to slowly dry the sneakers by means of an LED light, with extractor fans to remove all the moisture in the air. All the cleaning services are completed by means of Sneaker Lab’s own formulated cleaning products in the form of sprays, wipes, etc. The store also doubles up as a one-stop shop for your cleaning gear, where customers are able to purchase cleaning products as well as brushes, or simply a deluxe kit with all the tools required, including the protector and odour sprays. There is also some merchandise on sale in-store, which includes hoodies, caps, t-shirts and exclusive kits from a number of their previous collaborations.
Overall, I was happy with the services rendered by the Sneaker Lab crew, both in terms of the deep cleaning, enzyme wash to restore my adidas Originals NMD_R2 PK, as well as the walk-in clean for the Hi-Tec HTS74 Badwater 146. In addition to this, nothing beats the friendly staff, who are willing to engage with you about their services, the history, and even the process of taking care of your kicks. The basic cleaning services from Sneaker Lab include:
- Active clean – R 30.00
- Basic enzyme wash standard clean – R 120.00
- Delicate enzyme wash for premium materials – R 160.00
- Enzyme soak stain removal – R 40.00
- The Lab full detail – R 250.00
- Lace swap black/white laces – R 35.00
- Innersole cleaning, removal and protection from unwanted odors – R 40.00
- Undersole – R 30.00
- Odor protection – R 25.00
- Protect – R 25.00
- Leather care – R 25.00
Braamfontein is known for its various artistic influences and night life, many of which are also based upon the sneaker culture with numerous brand stores in the area. No doubt then if you’re in the area and need a quick clean, be sure to pop into the Sneaker Lab store. And for those instances where a more hands-on cleaning session is required, I would recommend dropping off your sneakers as well. The store in Braam is currently one of two in the world, launched on 1 February 2018, with a third set to open in Japan to complete the triangle.