Flex Out Of Necessity: How Cleaning Shoes Has Evolved Over Time

There are a lot of people that will clean their shoes with a toothbrush, detergent, and a rag. I am one of them. It’s a classic, timeless, tried and true way of cleaning your shoes, and it is a practice that every sneakerhead should follow, in some form (obviously).

But unless you’re in your 30’s-40’s, you may or may not understand the roots and original nature of this ritual. While most of us clean our shoes to stunt and flex on our baes and dunnies, people did this back in the day because they had to make those dollars stretch. In the movie Just For Kicks*, the most honorable Bobbito Garcia spends a few minutes explaining to us that when people bought a new pair of sneakers, they would religiously clean them simply because they didn’t have money like that to tear up shoes and then go buy some more. If you grew up in times and places like Bobbito did, it’s understandable that this practice was out of basic necessity before the stunt.

Now let’s take it a few years later, when people started getting more money, and Jordans were THE shoe to have. You weren’t stepping out in public in scuffed up anything if you wanted your credibility and pride intact. Of course, you’re trying to make your new Cement IV’s last because they cost a bit of money, but more importantly, because you have to stunt on your friends who don’t have them. The importance of cleaning your shoes has shifted from making the shoes last to more so making them the piece of attention and envy of anyone within eyesight of them, which can only happen in you keep them clean. Whether you are stunting on your girlfriend’s uncle with your Alternate VI’s, or hitting them with the Pro Models at the function last week, your desire to flex does you the favor of keeping alive the timeless tradition that Bobbito and so many other OG sneakerheads laid out for us so long ago.

*Every sneakerhead should have Just For Kicks in their collection. This is not up for debate.

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