Written by Jess Burg:
In the previous edition of “How to Save Your Old School Kicks” I revealed some helpful restoration hints for making thrift store bought kicks look spic and span. Still, the question remains: Is there a way to prevent or restore the midsole damage? I’m going to go out on a limb to say that cracking and crumbling midsoles are the most frustrating affliction found in thrift store sneakers. I’ve been scouring blogs and web pages, trying to find one simple solution but have concluded nothing is fool-proof. Instead I have simply become a wiser thrifter.
Immediately, it became fairly obvious that this whole midsole problem has been an ongoing topic for sneakers geeks everywhere. Whether or not it can be fixed completely is debatable. If you dare try be prepared to give up your entire weekend. But here are a few different approaches should you attempt it:
First, the least time consuming operation. For sneakers where the midsole has become completely detached from the rest of the shoe try using a Canadian product called Parasol Rubber Bond. Barge glue is also recommended. Just know that you will have to come up with some sort of creative method to clamp the sucker down while it cures.
Cracked midsole restoration begins with stripping the paint on the area of the midsole that is damaged. You can use rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab or, highly potent acetone.
Get some DAP Caulk and make sure it’s the kind that can be sanded after it sets. Apply the Caulk into the cracks of the midsole. Let harden and sand down until it is smooth and has a likeness to the original shape. It is recommended to use 2 types of sand paper, starting with a more coarse grain and finish it with a smoother, higher grit grain sandpaper.
Next up, painting the midsole! Start by applying 2 coats of acrylic sealer. Next, use painter’s tape over the areas not being painted. It is unanimous amongst sneaker geeks that Angelus Leather paint is the way to go.
For best results, apply 2 to 3 coats of paint. Don’t forget to allow each coat to dry. Finish with two more coats of acrylic sealer and you’re done. For more explicit details you can find step by step videos on http://www.youtube.com
So now you have a seemingly restored midsole and you can’t wait to show off your fresh pair of old school kicks…Not so fast! All that time and effort doesn’t exactly make them street legal. Your kicks may hold up for a couple of weeks in moderate terrain but it won’t last.
Many sneakers made in 1980s and 90s have foamy midsoles. Without proper storing, foam midsoles will dry out over time. You can bet that if you come across such a pair at the thrift store, there is a good chance the midsoles have expired. Thanks to vintageheatt.blogspot.com I did find some hints to help determine if a pair of old school kicks are worth the purchase:
– Push your thumb into the foam and if it leaves a print, not worth it. Those shoes are dried out and likely to crack.
– If the shoe has an air bubble unit in the midsole, press on that. If it feels firm, that means there is still air inside and you should be good to go!
– If there is any sign of cracking around the air bubble unit, then forget it.
Shoes that have rubber midsoles like the 1985 Jordans will last.
Thanks and send us your pics (or restoration attempts), or your most prized pairs of kicks!