Resoling sneakers and trainers: RforPeople and end-of-life
People did different things over lockdown. Talking to Tommaso Melani, owner of Stefano Bemer shoes, it turns out he started resoling trainers.
Stefano Bemer has a talented in-house team of shoemakers. They’ve made me three pairs of beautiful bespoke shoes over the years. With less to do over lockdown, Tommaso thought it would be interesting to have them take apart a pair of his sneakers.
It was a pair of old Adidas - pictured above. They disassembled them, put them together again, and replaced both the insole and the outsole, both of which were heavily worn down.
That provided the basis for a new service, and eventually a new brand - RforPeople. Tommaso has been on a big sustainability kick in the process, has spoken publicly on the subject, and can talk about everything from Adidas’s rubber waste to living wages around Asia.
The resoling service for trainers/sneakers I find interesting, and worthy. I had a look for a pair of mine that could be used to trial the service, but unfortunately threw away the last pair of mine that wore through, from Common Projects. Which I guess is a case in point.
Just as interesting, however, was talking to Tommaso about the afterlife of clothing in general.
It’s an area that’s talked about a lot less than sustainable production, packaging or air miles. And probably for good reason - it’s a lot more complicated, and harder to do anything about.
As a consumer, you can look after your clothes well, repair them, give them away rather than throw them away, and buy more second-hand. All of those things reduce the amount that is burnt or goes into landfill.
But as a company, it’s hard to offer a really substantive end-of-lifecycle service that can, for example, recycle the raw materials the clothing was made out of.
“Industry has got to the point - certainly in Europe - where finding more sustainable raw material is just a phone call away,” says Tommaso (above). “And it’s not hard to move production to be more local either.” That also goes for using renewable energy, reducing water waste, and offsetting carbon production.
“But how do you avoid things going into landfill at the end of their life? You can recycle the rubber from shoe soles, for example - it’s used to make tennis courts - but you need to collect a large enough volume, and you need to store it in the meantime, which has its own cost.”
Big sneaker brands have the volume to offer a service like this, but usually not the margin. The price of cheaply made shoes does not extend to free shipping for customers to send their shoes back, then people to take them apart at the other end. End-of-life services are just more expensive.
Interestingly, wool and cashmere can apparently be shredded and re-used, but only once. Unlike some plastics and most metals, they become too weak to re-use after one round of recycling.
“The yarn is chopped up, but then often has to be mixed with a synthetic to make it strong enough to use again,” says Tommaso. “And after that it’s only going to landfill.” Plus of course, the synthetic means more plastics.
There’s no easy solution to any of this, apart from the points earlier about caring, repairing, and buying more second-hand, less overall. As Tony wrote about recently.
“I find it useful to think about how much we value things,” says Tommaso. “The difference is quite stark in our business, because we make bespoke shoes, and now much cheaper clothing as well.”
“People value bespoke shoes because they cost so much. It means they care for them, they will resole them multiple times. As a producer we value the workers that make them, and we value the raw material, saving every scrap - because it too is expensive. People just don’t value cheaper things in the same way, but I think they can choose to.”
The clothes from RforPeople (above) are unlikely to appeal to PS readers, either in terms of style or make.
But Tommaso has done his homework generally, and that means if the resoling service is for you, you don’t have to worry about the carbon impact of sending the shoes (all offset), or the location of production, the labour practices and so on.
There is a natural limit to the resoling, and that is the style of the shoes. The team are putting on stitched cup soles, so a trainer with a different sole will look different afterwards. Tommaso has resoled running and hiking shoes of his (below) and likes the results, but it’s not a case of reproducing the original shoe.
The last shape is also a limitation. Because the shoes are taken apart, they have to be put on the in-house sneaker last before being resoled.
Still, most PS readers will likely wear some shoes with this sole type, such as my Common Projects that I had to throw away. Or vulcanised canvas shoes, like Doek. The latter will not be revulcanised by RforPeople, but that’s a small change compared with athletic shoes.
The service costs €390 and includes sanitising the upper, replacing the laces and insole, and repairing the lining, as well as the resoling. The laces use recycled cotton and the sole uses zero environmental-impact EVA rubber. It takes 4-6 weeks.
If readers know of any shoe or clothing repair services anywhere in the world that we haven’t covered, please do let us know your experiences in the comments
Wow thats crazy! 390 euros? Surely better for the environment to wear proper shoes that can be resoled for a fraction of the price and to keep the gym shoes where they belong, in the sports bag.
True Darryl, I think to an extent the price reflects the actual cost of after life on products like this – something we don’t really ever take into account.
And of course it’s better to wear leather shoes that can be resoled, but a lot of people don’t do that.
I don’t doubt that the costs are real, Simon. But I cannot help thinking that a real improvement in sustainability *needs* to also be sustainable from the point of view of real-world, personal-economy. Something so expensive, while interesting, will simply never be widely accepted, and rightly so. It just doesn’t have any financial sense.
If being sustainable is a luxury only the top earners can afford, then the net gain for the planet will be close to zero, and all we have on our hands is a way for rich people to feel good about their habits rather than real improvement of the industry.
I completely agree, And. For it to make any big real-world difference, it has to be much more affordable.
But why dismiss something just because its impact is small? If someone doesn’t have the ability to make a big difference, what’s wrong with making a small one?
Also, the potential awareness impact of projects like this, and talking about them, shouldn’t be ignored. It has us talking about resoling sneakers, and already other services have been highlighted in the comments.
It does have us talking about resoling sneakers, but it also holds the danger of turning people off. If I talked to a random friend about this, they are far more likely to come off thinking sustainability is just for the people who are so rich that they can ignore common financial sense, than to go online looking for a more realistic sneaker resoling service.
True, there is that danger. Though if they read this whole article I think it would probably just stimulate their thinking and waste and end of life – including, for example, just buying fewer sneakers
I guess the hope is that this creates ripples within the industry. There’s a Zero Waste grocery store near us that we use for a few items but the expense means that it’s something of a luxury and could never replace our supermarket shop. However, I’ve read that supermarkets are now trialling their own zero waste stores which hopefully will prove popular enough to scale up.
The service is indeed ridiculously expensive. Given the recent sneaker hype every major Western city has some sneaker repair store, usually run by super enthusiastic sneaker nerds that can do any kind of resole/repair and with the result actually looking like the original style for much, much less. As for Common Projects-style Margom soles, I found that any decent cobbler I would trust with my Goodyear-welted shoes can do those as well anyways.
Also, to be honest, I have so far never discarded Nike/New Balance etc. sneakers because they were really worn out, but just because the style didn’t appeal any more. Which relates to the original theme of this website in that style choices that are timeless (at least for a decade or so) are also more sustainable.
Good point Ferdinand, that always makes the biggest difference. When we have recommended sneakers they’ve always been very classic for that reason – particularly with canvas ones, which already look a little from a different era in their styling.
On other resolers of sneakers, please do suggest any you know. That would be great.
(I should just briefly make the other point above of course, which is that those repair places won’t also be storing and then re-using the soles. They’ll just be throwing them away. Still much better than throwing away the upper as well, but only part of the way there.)
I love the classic Norman Walsh running shoes and sneakers that are made in Bolton. Lancashire Sports Repairs offers a resoling service using original Walsh sole units. The cost is around for around £40 to £60 depending on the sole. They also repair the linings and other parts at a very reasonable charge. LSR also offers similar services for the main European walking, climbing and leisure boot brands. Like Timpson’s, they can replace Vibram soles too. It’s only £8 for FedEx delivery too. I can’t think of a more affordable and environmentally friendly option to extend the life of leisure footwear.
Wonderful, thank you Gary.
If anyone knows of any similar service, please let us know.
If you buy a pair of eg C&J shoes at c£490, you can get them refurbished at their factory as needed for about £170, or about 35% of the cost new. This seems to make perfect sense.
Applying the same logic to sneakers would suggest that spending 390 euros on refurbishment should put their purchase price above 1000 euros
Of course not a like for like comparison by any stretch, but who buys sneakers at even double that?
Technically interesting, with a tenuous link to sustainability, but not a business model I expect to be a raging success.
I’m not sure that logic really holds Peter, given you’re not giving the trainers back to the maker – who of course has all the equipment ready to do the same job as they did with the making. Instead you’re asking artisans to fill a gap by offering a service that doesn’t exist elsewhere, and leads to both waste and pollution.
Also, the Northampton maker isn’t making the same commitment to recycling all of the materials involved, or making every other part of the process sustainable.
What it really is, I think, is an indictment of the sports brands that make all these shoes but offer no way in which to extend their life or deal with them once their useful life has ended.
Agreed, but my underlying point on the business model is that I think it unlikely that many folk would even contemplate paying 390 euros to have sneakers refurbished as the majority of sneakers don’t cost that much anyway.
Very true, that will be a limiting factor. Someone will need to care particularly about the sustainability angle. Although, just because sneakers aren’t that expensive, it doesn’t mean the buyer can’t afford to pay that – sneakers simply are quite cheap, if that makes sense. I can afford to and would happily pay more for good sneakers, but that market doesn’t really exist unless you’re just paying for brand.
I have had mixed experiences with Timpson’s over the years. I still use them for resoling my classic Timberland deck shoes with Vibram soles.
The full grain classic and 3-eye “lug” Timberland boat shoes will last decades with proper care. It appears that Chatham’s English made deck shoes and loafers, e.g. the Faraday, can be also resoled with Vibram units too.
There are many options if you want to have a choice of affordable leisure footwear that can be repaired easily by Timpson’s (and others) at a reasonable cost. It’s just a matter of looking at the sole unit before purchase to see if it can be replaced.
I think the Norman Walsh equivalent in the US is Victory Sportswear: https://victorysportswear.net/about/ I recently bought a pair of their trainers for park outings etc and good so far with a promise of being able to be resoled: “We make our shoes with the double reverse flare foxing method that allow our shoes to be resoled with many years of wear.”
Great, thank you Clive. Really helpful
Agreed yes, I have Walsh trainers resoled and have used LSR a few times now, great service and great pricing.
William Lennon offer a resole service for their boots, Simon.
Thank you Peter, but I meant for trainers. Most leather-soled shoemakers offer a resoling service
Oh yes, of course. Crown Northampton resole their own sneakers.
I actually discovered a common projects repairer – attards or @commonprojectscobbler on Instagram.
£95 for a full refurbishment including Margom soles.
Haven’t had a chance to send them my pair yet but will be soon.
Aha, great thank you Adam. If you do try them, let me know how they work out. I presume they could do other cup-sole shoes as well?
I’m sorry to say a 390€ sneaker resoling service is nothing but a proof-of-concept. Interesting, but of absolutely zero real-world use.
However, I am not sure there even is a point in such a service, as it is very likely that the sole will degrade slower than the upper in my experience. Though maybe someone who actually buys 300€+ sneakers may find a different experience? I doubt it, but one can never know.
Lastly, I don’t even particularly like their designs, but that’s personal and might improve on newer releases.
The upper will certainly degrade, you’re right. The leather is rarely that good quality. However, some people don’t mind that look in sneakers, and the upper is likely to still be wearable, whereas a sole that has gone through is not.
On the designs, I assume you mean not the examples here of resoling other people’s sneakers? If so, then yes I agree.
I meant their RTW, yes.
You had me at “resole” .
You lost me at €390.
The sneaker market claims to be ‘green’ but I would suspect that’s a lot of ‘green-washing’.
This is an industry that has consumption , fashion , trends etc at its heart.
But best of luck to Tommaso Melani on a worthwhile initiative.
Thanks Robin. Does the sneaker market really claim to be ‘green’? Could you point me towards some of the big makers making their argument there? I’d be interested in reading it.
My thinking that the sneaker market “claim to be green” stems from the likes of Adidas who make a big play about using recycled plastics, tyres etc in their (inflated priced) ultra-boost sneakers.
It also stems from the fact big brands often jump onto agenda drives like ‘eco’, ‘green’, ‘environmental’ etc.
These claims would be truer if they did a bit of ‘reverse supply chain logistics’ and took back their old, worn out sneakers.
Exactly, thanks Robin. As I said, I think that’s the biggest piece missing from all of these discussions, and it’s the part I found most different about talking to Tommaso about
I love this initiative! I saw some negstive comments about the pricing and being elitist. I think that is how many such projects start (e.g. the organic food movement) and it is important that there are examples of people getting things done! If Nike offered this service, they would have so much better possibilities to make it affordable. For many sneaker brands, I think it might be best to offer an in-house service due to the variety of soles used.
In my hometown, Stockholm, there is a cobbler called Bäckmans (I think your Stockholm menswear startup friends are well acquainted with them). Their bread and butter is goodyear welted shoes, but they also take on other shoes (as well as mail orders).
They replace Margom cupsoles on Common Projects and the like, and I have been really satisfied with mine. I think it costs around £60.
They also put new soles on Blundstone boots, which is something many other cobblers say is impossible. And they have added a new outsole to retro running sneakers like the Reebok Classic. I think they just cut off the outer layer and use some type of heat-sealing or glue to add a new thin sole but it looks good and works well, and stabilizes the shoe.
And Blundstones, Dr Martens and dressy tennis shoes form a much larger part of the Stockholm shoe population than welted shoes and boots. And they might be expensive enough for the middle class to want them repaired. So I think it makes good business sense for them, too.
They have an Instagram page: https://instagram.com/backmansskoservice
I am totally on board with getting trainers repaired rather than throwing them away – I have done it a few times at Classic Shoe Repairs in Kentish Town. But if you’re genuinely focused on the environment, spending €390 is irrational given the opportunity cost of what else you could do with that money. Donate some of that to a charity like Eden Reforestation Projects and they’ll plant enough trees to sequester 1000 tonnes of CO2 – then buy yourself a nice new pair of trainers. Ultimately you do more good that way! I realise how annoying it is when people comment e.g. “Why are you spending so much on a suit when you could give it to the hungry” but in this case the whole point is ostensibly the ethical impact, and yet it just doesn’t make sense on those terms.
Thanks Ned, do Classic Shoe Repairs have any limits on what they can resole re trainers?
An option in London is the Vibram Academy on City Road. See https://www.vibram.co.uk/LondonAcademy
They will put a Vibram sole on most most footwear types with costs varying from £80 for welted shoes to £45 for trainers.
Thanks Gary. Not cup soles as on sneakers presumably?
Yes, agreed. I think they don’t supply cup soles based on the photos at https://www.vibram.co.uk/RepairsCustomisation where I assume the cup sole shown with a “ripple” unit, is simply glued onto an existing cup. But it could be worth checking with them at [email protected]
Vibram’s Strighton 2148 sneaker cup soles, made in Italy, cost £31 online – https://fletcherhandmade.co.uk/product/sneaker-soles-trainer-outsole-white-vibram-strighton-2148-italian-made-replacement-soles-rubber-shoe-making-diy-footwear-sizes-37-44.
The Vibram Academy or a cobbler with Vibram expertise should be able to get and fit them.
In the US, Bedo’s Leatherworks outside of Washington, DC will do resoling of some sneakers. It’s not cheap, but it’s significantly cheaper than this.
One interesting thing is that in the final picture, those New Balance running shoes have what look like a metal shank. I wouldn’t have expected that.
I thought the conventional wisdom was that the prices for goodyear welted shoes was justified by the fact that they can resoled, whereas other shoe constructions cannot be.
Does the fact that sneakers can be resoled mean that conventional wisdom was nonsense? If Adidas sneakers can be resoled, I imagine pretty much any shoe can be resoled as well?
What’s the point of buying goodyear welted shoes in that case?
On the economics, yes sneakers start to make more sense if they can be resoled.
But surely you’re not just buying Goodyear shoes for the economics? It’s a very different style of shoe, ages much better, is made usually in better labour conditions etc. I would have thought resoling as regards economics is a fairly small factor
Interesting article Simon.
Rather than comment on the sustainability side of things I would be very interested in hearing from any of your UK based readers if they know of and/or have had experience of replacing a Danite sole on a trainer.
The Danite is on a pair of ‘Mirfield’ from Church’s with a white leather upper. These were bought several years ago, about 6/7 years ago from memory I think, and they’re still going strong. From the current wear I am observing (and I’m not a heavy user, both in terms of my weight and the wear they get), I would say the Danite sole will go before the leather upper.
Admittedly, I haven’t been back to Church’s to enquire but as I say, would be pleased to know if others have any experience.
Ciao Simon, thank you for the article! And thank everyone here for taking the time to share their opinion on this project.
Without meaning to disrespect anyone’s opinion, I do believe that the point of the article may have been somehow missed by some readers. While conceiving RforPeople, we didn’t aim to create a “sneaker repair service”, which would address (if done well) the single issue of extending the life cycle of the product, but rather a very comprehensive approach and definition of “sustainability”.
The reason why RforPeople’s ReFashioning is more expensive than buying a new pair is because consumers do not seem to give value to the social and environmental aspects of their choices. Questions like “How well compensated are the workers that made these sneakers?” or “What do they do with production waste or defective products?” or again “What happens to these sneakers once they are no longer wearable?” should be at least considered before we decide on our shopping choices.
RforPeople is a deliberate decision to check all the checkmarks of sustainability: 1) made by highly regulated and protected labour in 2) safe and enjoyable workplaces by 3) specialised artisans that also have granted access to ongoing in house training to improve their skills and therefore their career opportunities and that 4) live within a car-drive commute, so no long haul container shipment is necessary to produce or disseminate the product. At the same time 5) fruit trees are donated to rural communities in Africa to balance off all the carbon emissions and support local economies. 6) All the waste of production is collected and then responsibly up-cycled or recycled (certified process). 7) All materials and components used in production are either recycled, up-cycled or certified organic and sustainable and 8) we offer in house refurbishment and repair service with a 9) free shipping label (included with each product) to return the item to us, even when it’s not wearable any more, so that we can disassemble it and recycle each component responsibly, to make sure it doesn’t end up in a landfill or incinerated.
So, if you forgive my lengthy comment, you will see that a great part of the value that we have decided to offer in our proposition is placed not in the product itself but on what production means for our planet and the dignity of the people that inhabit it. Many may not be interested or aware of the bigger picture, and I’m obviously aware of it. But some, like myself, believe that buying a product who’s production has been offshored to the Far East in pursuit of profit, without any care for the direct and indirect consequences on individuals, community and environment (weather while producing or at the end of the life cycle) is not a fair option and may therefore be willing to support the commitment of this small project to creating a better future for everyone, not just for the consumers that can buy cheap and be careless with the impact of their choices.
Very interesting thoughts, thank you.
I have never discarded a pair of shoes or trainers in my life, and I am in my 60’s. Whenever I feel they are no longer of use to me, they go to a local charity shop (as do all shirts/ties/knitwear etc).
I contribute to a number of charities that support environmental and exploitation issues, as I find it easier to manage my responsibility to sustainability this way than to think through more complex approaches.
Good luck with the project!!
That sounds like an admirable approach Peter.
It would be interesting to know sometime how much of charity shop produce actually gets thrown away (because it doesn’t sell).
We get along well then, Peter. I’ve done the same (both with shoes and clothing) but there are some items that embodied memories and held an emotional value that I could not just give away. That is where the idea of withholding that value and extending the use of a pair of simple trainers came from. Plus, don’t we all carve something new once in a while? I had no responsible option in front of me, so…. 🙂
I may be duplicating another’s post or idea, but I wear almost exclusively two brands: Mephisto and Santoni. I don’t know about the latter, but the former can resole anything (trainers, naturally), as long as the sneaker is from The Mephisto or Mobils ranges (not the All Rounders).
Their prices are much more reasonable than what you’re describing here, Simon. To do a full scale refurbishment, including shoe trees, and the works, it’s $145 USD. https://www.mephistoresole.com/
I may have also misread the post — you may be talking about a service for “any brand” vs. “the brand restoring only its own products.” Mephisto will NOT restore other brands, but that matters not to me. I am a customer for life, and while I haven’t needed to use the service yet, I know that I will eventually do so.
No idea about Santoni…
Santoni will certainly resole their own shoes that can be resoled, as far as I know.
And yes, this was about places that can resole other brands, but it is great to know that Mephisto will resole their own.
Allen Edmonds in the US recrafts some of their sneakers for $125. These sneakers have a sole that is stitched to the uppers. When not on sale most of these sneakers retail in the $300 range so repairing them may make sense. However most other brands of sneakers/trainers cost less than $150. If they are used for running, hiking or extensive walking then they are usually worn out both inside and out in 6 months or less. Old worn out sneakers lose their cushioning and support and may cause bodily harm.
Thanks RTK. We’re looking more at leisure shoes than real athletic ones, given the former is a much bigger market, and resoling as shown here isn’t really suitable for running sole units anyway.
As others have said, the cost is a puzzle – especially when you consider the price of their ReFashioned trainers is the same as one of their new pairs. However, I must applaud them for offering a full high-top model – their Aspen trainer has eleven eyelets! As someone who cannot wear low-tops, I’ve been frustrated by the lack of options, so this is a very welcome change.
Thanks Flaubertine. Worth seeing Tommaso’s comment above re cost as well
Having spent a lot of time looking at walking shoes lately, in an effort to find a better quality option, the first campaign is probably better aimed at source for leisure shoes — almost all are cheap cemented construction rather than stitched to allow replacement soles.
Lancashire Sportswear repairs – if you need running shoes repaired at a fraction of these costs.
Hi Simon. What I’ve never seen you write about is the effect of shoes on foot health. I was struck by how incredibly narrow the insole of the sneakers in the cover photo was: absolutely no one would have a foot shape like that, the toes would be cramped in unnatural position and unable to spread in any way. Have you ever taken foot health into account in your shoe purchases, or have you always went with aesthetics first? Do you know any bespoke shoemakers that produce shoes that are more foot-shaped?
You’re right, I haven’t written about that, it would be an interesting topic.
To be honest, I’ve always found that sneakers have easily enough room to spread the toes – and it’s an issue I often have with dress shoes. Perhaps those sneakers in the top image are just a small size and look small as a result.
But with dress shoes, yes there are brands and bespoke makers that are slimmer and broader, and that compromise less on the fit for the sake of aesthetics. Alden is a good example on ready made, and Lobb a good example on bespoke. In general, American shoes are more accommodating in this way, French are the least so, and English in between.
You’ve truly jumped the shark with this one, Simon. I’ve been a loyal reader since the start and read it religiously. I had a problem with spending £400 on a pair of chinos (I’m fine with that on shoes) as I don’t see the value. Others do and that’s fine
But spending this much on resoling sneakers is bonkers. It’s unrealistic and out of touch with reality.
Thanks Charles, and sorry to hear that. To be honest I’m surprised that people object to the price on a service like this more than on piece of high-priced clothing, where a good amount of the extra cost is due to marketing and a large design team.
As Tommaso outlines above, this is simply the cost of resoling and then recycling everything that is removed. There is very little profit, that’s just what it costs. If you don’t want to pay for that, that’s fine, but if you run through all the things he lists above, it is hard not to see where the money goes.
As I’ve also pointed out, this is not just about resoling – it’s about end of life and recycling. No one else here doing resoling, as far as I know, is also recycling the sole, because it’s too difficult and expensive. Emphasis on expensive.
Really simple. If “life extension” of a product cost the same or more than a product itself, you need to “really”, and I mean REALLY love the product or care about sustainability.
I can see the logic Martins, but why does the cost of the original product matter so much? Surely it depends how much value you place on it, which might not be that closely linked to the price. The whole point is you don’t want to just buy another pair, and waste the old one, so the price of a second one isn’t that relevant either.
I think partially that’s what I meant… if you absolutely love your pair of sneakers and can’t imagine wearing/finding something else, you’ll be happy to pay whatever it takes. But if sneakers is… well, sneakers, and sustainability is not absolute priority… well… I’m happy to know, I’m not the only one who thinks it’s expensive.
And p.s. I also can’t imagine wearing trough an inch of rubber before uppers are in a bad enough condition. It’s not like sneakers are made of top leather!
Thanks Martins. Yes this is not going to be that interesting to people that don’t put sustainability way up the priority list. You need to care about recycling and end of life as well as just resoling.
Uppers on sneakers, if they’re leather particularly rather than suede, are going to be in a poor condition very quickly. It’s not like dress shoes – those that like sneakers don’t mind those signs of wear, it’s either that or completely box fresh. So if you don’t mind that, you’re likely to wear through the soles at some point.
Hi Simon, long time reader.
Can you recommend somewhere for a two piece suit, preferably offshore bespoke? budget £1500, Where would be the best place to go
If you want bespoke you’ll have to go more expensive than that. Best is probably Whitcomb & Shaftesbury but that will be closer to 2k
I would happily recommend Macangus and Wainwright to Aslan, who will make a high quality bespoke garment for less than his budget.
Thank you for your recommendation! I shall look into them
Do they have a house style? Button hole looks a little high. Considering booking an appointment for next week
I guess MTM is the correct term. Thank you for your recommendation, i will take a look! Any others?
Aha, well if it’s MTM then yes, certainly. I’ve listed all the ones I’ve tried in this article. You might need to find one where you live, given the lack of travel and trunk shoes generally still
The best place to go would be a freelance tailor. If you’re based in London, or don’t mind travelling for the fittings, try Francesco Vuoto or Paul McTigue
Thanks J. As regards your other (unpublished) comment, please refrain from political arguments on here, it’s not what the site is for. Cheers
I don’t think any discussion on this subject is complete without a mention of Crown Northampton – The best value for money and best made trainers I’ve discovered yet. They resole their trainers at a cost of 60GBP – it’s a remarkable company.
I’d urge anyone interested in high end trainers to check out the youtube channel of the guy who dissects trainers in order to ascertain how well made they are. He’s made videos of all the top brands including CP’s and the Crown Northampton came out on top. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough personally.
Thanks Matty. Someone above did mention Crown too.
They are well made, better quality than the vast majority out there. Personally I don’t like the styles that much – too round in the shape – but that’s personal.
I forgot to mention Goral – another company with a similar – I’m just going to say “vibe” here – to Crown Northampton. Their resoling service IS 70GBP. They make trainers for a number of other companies, Cheaney being one.
Hi Simon, firstly Happy New Year to you and all PS readers.
Apologies, for coming to this discussion late in the day. I wasn’t originally going to comment, however on reflection I do have a few points.
On a positive note it’s good to see people trying something to reduce waste.
I do however doubt the business model here and any real impact. For me it falls in a ‘nice to do category
To use the example of your Common Project sneakers to resole would cost around the same as a new pair – for what is sort of half a new pair, that would not even look the same. Also – know I’m off point but anyway – the unique smell and feel of new sneakers out of the box is a bit special. I would suggest it be better to solve the recycling problem and buy new in this instance.
I fully get the costs involved of resoling, No issues on that. I just don’t think it’s worthwhile and seems an expensive way to demonstrate one’s green credentials.
To finish on a positive note, my suggestions would be:
1) To follow the Neem example taking something old recycle it and offer a discount. Or simply donate it.
2) Perhaps promote as a way of enhancing a pair of existing sneakers into something ‘different’ if not actually unique, with recycling as bonus and not the main reason.
3) Consider going the whole way to make new bespoke sneakers (if they don’t already) perhaps with a discount for responsibly recycling a returned pair (similar to point 1 but only for sneakers.
I agree everyone should try to do their bit, part of which is offering incentives to do so.
Please accept this comment in the positive spirit, in which it is intended.
Thank you Stephen, I do and it is helpful.
I guess I think a few things are worth saying:
– I’m not sure why people comment so much on whether this is a business model that is going to be huge, or going to change the industry. No one has said it will, or expects it to – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile offering. It just makes it niche.
– The new smell of trainers is great, but the whole point is that that doesn’t last long, and the only way to get it again is to create both landfill with the old trainers and use resources to make the new ones. In the end, that retail high is hugely expensive.
– It would definitely be better to solve the trainer recycling problem, but no one is doing that – because it costs too much. If someone has an alternative suggestion for recycling soles, that’s great. But if they don’t, then this is the only option, and it costs quite a lot of money.
– I’m not sure anyone is suggesting that a customer is ‘demonstrating their green credentials’. They’re choosing a more sustainable option, but that doesn’t mean they’re telling anyone about it. There’s an odd assumption here that just because someone is paying for an expensive way to be sustainable, that somehow they are showing off.
The positive suggestions are great, and make sense. Neem are only recycling clothing only I think though, which is more established and easier.
In the end, if this is what it costs to resole sneakers and completely recycle the results, that this is what it costs. There’s nothing to object to except the fact that it is expensive to do so, and there are no large-scale alternatives offered by sneaker brands.
It will not be affordable to the vast majority of people, but that doesn’t mean it’s somehow not worth offering. And those that can’t afford it should still resole if they can (using all the providers that have been highlighted in this thread), buy shoes that last longer, and/or just buy fewer shoes overall. All more affordable alternatives, particularly the last one!
I have a pair of Scarpa trainers with suede uppers that are still in very good condition. The Vibram sole is wearing out on the heel. This article is a good reminder to see if my local cobbler can replace the sole rather than buying a replacement shoe.
The insole is wearing out too but it is removable and I can replace it with another.
Good idea Peter. See if they can replace the heel liner too, as RforPeople does. That’s fairly easy to do and is often the first thing to wear out inside.
Mending clothes (which traslates to rammendare) is common in Italy from moth holes to wear and tear. Unfortunately like many other crafts in Rome this one is getting more rare in favour of cheap sandwich shops.
Yes, good point. Those places have to supported if we want them to survive.
Another reader just pointed out also that most white goods used to be possible to repair, at least once or twice – my mother certainly always used to do so. Now there is almost nowhere that can, and they are just thrown away.
Slightly off topic, Simon, but I’d be interested in knowing what you replaced those Common Projects sneakers with, considering their prices have gone up considerably in recent years and there are alternatives now (such as Vekla, Skolyx…).
I bought another pair of CPs I’m afraid, but that was several years ago. I still wear CPs sometimes, but not as much as I used to, so I haven’t looked at other brands since. I wear canvas like Doek more.
Any particular reason for that?
I haven’t really thought about it, but it might be that I’ve tended to prefer loafers with anything smart, and canvas shoes with anything really casual, rather than a leather sneaker which is sort of being in between
I would just like to take a moment to commend this project, the thoughtfulness and what from here seems like a very thorough execution.
I will certainly be availing this service in the future.
Tommaso, kudos on this and please let me know if we can be of any help on your endeavours.
Simon, thank you for sharing this on your platform. As expected, the largest number of comments are about the price. While it is hard to address every argument and counter argument over comments, I feel a short live discussion breaking down all the elements of costing and all questions – in a podcast style or even video style format could be really useful to address a lot of points and more.
Just a thought.
Thank you Agyesh, that’s a good idea.
Longtime reader, first time commenter. Love the blog.
While it’s a nice thing for Bemer to try, the impact of individual consumer actions is minimal.
There was an interesting sequence in “Don’t Look Up” where the scientists, to be taken seriously by the media and their audience, need a makeover. I think they put DiCaprio in taupe corduroy. It speaks to how dressing well lends credibility, but often the best-dressed people are not credible, and many credible scientists and activists are often dressed poorly.
Could the menswear industry help by thinking of ways to use the power of personal image to empower climate scientists and activists?
Thanks again for highlighting this service Simon. I did not even know it was possible to resole sneakers. I’m glad to see such a service being highlighted, even if the price point is fairly prohibitive.
Do you know how specialized this capability is ?
Did Rforpeople invest in some kind of expensive equipment or proprietary process to resole sneakers, since it seems most of us have never seen this service offered before ?
Or is this something a number of other competent cobblers could readily also do if they were asked ?
The price point would suggest this is a very difficult or proprietary process. But then again, sneaker construction seems pretty simple, and the soles being used don’t seem that expensive. Hence my question.
I think it’s worth looking through a few of the comments above, FT.
The reason the price is expensive is largely the recycling side of the business. The work is not that hard to do, and the soles are fairly available. Above, readers highlight some other makers that will do it – not the recycling or sustainability side, but a simple cup-sole replacement.
I just get my sneakers from Crown Northampton. They come with a resole facility for I think £90. Shoes from £280 up and made to order and now a handmade service as well.
Thanks Michael, that’s been mentioned above.
Obviously not then recycled, and it’s not a shape I like myself personally, but it is a great service.
With respect to anyone’s efforts, initiatives like the below are the real story here, IMO (at least from a “real world” aspect of sustainability).
In general the big sportswear manufacturers are making big leaps in this area – could they do more? Of course, but I think this is a meaningful start and the trajectory is very different to that of even five years ago. Partly because they need to flog product to a new generation of consumers who actually care about this stuff and are better informed.
Fantastic, thanks Bill. Do you know if there are any limitations on how much they can be remade? Eg is it just resoling, or can they repair the upper, insole etc?
I completely agree though, those brands will make the biggest difference, and they will only do it if we as consumer push them to do so. Their shareholders need to feel it’s going to make the company more profitable – it’s the only thing that can change a company like that
I recently bought a Patagonia Down Sw. Hoody and am happy with this legendary model.
I was impressed by this company’s commitment to the environment. But when I saw sweaters made from recycled wool and especially cashmere with a special addition of wool for $240, I thought it was very expensive and inefficient for recycled material. It will pill and scratch very quickly.
You need to either lower the price or make the appropriate quality.
Thanks for this thorough study and great recommendations from all of you. I have been looking for sneakers resoling and repair for some time, so this post is very timely. A little steep on the price side, maybe.
The circularity theme is gaining some strong momentum, especially in fashion, and clothing in general. In case you were not yet aware, even Weston has developed a vintage service, where they buy old shoes from clients (€50-100 still better than nothing) refurbish them and resell them at a discount. Not only is it sustainability-friendly (good marketing argument) but it is also very smart from them, as they propose to centralise ‘at home’ a second-hand (or -foot, rather!) activity which otherwise escapes their control, through the Ebays and Leboncoin sites of this world.
Quite a surprising move from a brand like Weston, but a decent one, I gather.
Thank you Stan, that’s very interesting
You are most welcome, Simon. For once that I can contribute a little, after more than 10 years of having my sartorial culture expanded thanks to you, it made my day;)
Thanks for this gigantic work of yours.
Excellent to see these much needed projects starting up. It looks like an almost complete rebuild so I can understand the cost. For saving your absolute favourite but worn out trainers then maybe €390 is worth it but for basic trainers it’s too much. And those basic ones are sold used & landfilled by the millions. How do we reduce that load on the planet?
Replacing the entire sole of a trainer isn’t worth it. But there are simple ways to make the sole of your trainer last much longer and they only cost a few pounds. I think that’s the problem – the fact that they are cheap and therefore no-one makes much out of them. Online there’s Stormsure, Vibram and repairmyowntrainingshoes.co.uk.
Thank you Russell