Do You Need To Wash Your Sneakers For $50?

Kicks looking worn out or too plain? We try out a sneaker laundry and customisation service.

To all the kids with the pumped-up kicks: There is nothing like slipping on a pair of fresh, pristine sneakers. Until it rains the first time you’re wearing them out, or some blur person accidentally steps on your shoe (urgh).

Or, even if you have successfully avoided those sneaker disasters, your prized Adidas NMDs start showing signs of wear and tear.

Before you toss your kicks in their shoebox coffin and hold a fashion funeral, know that there are sneaker cleaning services out there dedicated to saving your sneakers from an early death.

We tried the media trial for the six-month-old Holystic Sneaker Laundry at Wheelock Place, which offers sneaker cleaning and restoration to its former glory, as well as customisation (like hand-painted designs).

For those who are too busy to make it down to their kiosk on Orchard Road (it’s right beside Marks & Spencer’s M&S Cafe) or their latest Cluny Court outlet which opened earlier this month, they offer a two-way pickup and dropoff service at a location of your choice for $15 too. An upcoming outlet is opening next month at Liang Court.

What to expect 
A friendly Holystic staff picks up two pairs of our sneakers at our office at Mediacorp — a pair of canvas Vans Authentic for customisation and a pair of suede New Balance high-tops that have seen better days to be cleaned.

Cleaning starts from $20 for a basic cleaning of the sneakers’ exterior surface.

The staff informs us that there is a wait of at least three days for the sneakers to be cleaned, and an average of 10 days to two weeks for the customisation of a small, simple design

You can opt to pay $10 to shorten the wait to three working days ($15 for two days, $20 for one day). We decided to skip it ’cos we were not in a hurry.

It could be because their business is very good (after all, being a Hypebeast is all the rage these days), but there was a lull period of one-and-a-half months before we got an automated SMS from Holystic to inform us that our cleaned-up New Balance sneakers were ready. The customised Vans took another four months before they were delivered to us.

The reason that Holystic gave was that they were “overwhelmed” with orders. So for those who are overly-attached to your kicks, you have been warned.

The customisation
Holystic’s towkay suggested a few designs for our consideration. In the end, we requested for a white T-Rex silhouette to be painted on the Vans.

Customisation starts from $80 for a basic design. They also do stuff like painting a camouflage print on your sneakers and changing its original colour.

One of the designs suggested by Holystic for our Vans. 

What we like about the service here: they Whatsapped us photos during the customisation process to check in on our thoughts about it. “I personally think the artwork is too plain, is that what you wanted?” Holystic’s boss asked. “Maybe add some colour strips across the dinosaur or add features instead of leaving it plain white.”

We agreed, and he tells us he will “go think of something”.

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Our zhng'd Vans with a hand-painted T-Rex. 

Alas, when we finally receive our shoes, the T-Rex was still plain white. They look fine, assured our pals and colleagues. But still… We probably wouldn’t send a pair of $3,000 Yeezys for customisation lah.

The cleaning
Okay, first things first, don’t expect your old, grubby sneakers to be restored to their immaculate, just-bought state during this cleaning process. The Holystic folks are a laundry service and not magicians, okay?

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Before: Dusty, forlorn New Balance kicks. 

We had opted for the cleaning option with the full works, called The Holy Detail ($50), which includes deep cleaning of the whole sneaker from exterior surfaces to the laces and deodorising.

While the suede uppersole and tongue of our sneaker looked much better and cleaner than before, we did not see much difference for the midsole (the foamy part that makes up most of the sneaker sole), which has yellowed to the point of no return.

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After: our clean New Balance sneakers with spiffed-up suede. 

Our sneakers arrived, laces neatly tied, in a nice black dustbag.

Would we go for this sneaker laundry service again? Yes, but only for our more precious kicks and trickier materials like leather and suede. Otherwise, it’s something you can do at home with some ol’ soap and water.

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