Is Raleigh Restorations Your Sneaker Saviour?

If you are like me you have a pair of sneakers that you are holding on to that are pretty scuffed and damaged, but you just can’t let them go. There is probably someone telling you to throw them away, who you just ignore because you know in the back of your mind something will come about to save your beloved sneakers…well fear no more you may be able to have them salvaged! If you remember in the interview that we had with DJ Grouch he voiced his displeasure with the quality of his retro Nike Air Jordan IIIs and the way that the paint on them cracked so fast. Well, recently Grouch hit me up and told me that he had sent his retro Jordan IIIs to be restored.

Now hearing this I had to ask for more info! Grouch told me he connected with Raleigh Restorations and they were going to bring life back into his sneakers. Automatically I was thinking about all the shoes that I was going to break out of boxes and ship to this place to have them restored…but first I had to see PROOF of the restorations. So, a couple weeks after Grouch initially told me about his sneakers being restored we met up for me to see the final result and I was BLOWN AWAY! The sneakers looked like they were fresh out of the box. The whites were bright white and not yellow like Grouch told me they were the cracked red paint was looking full and more pure then when you normally get them…I was SOLD!

So with this great discovery I sought out Raleigh Restorations on Facebook and asked them if they would be willing to do an interview with Sole Theory…within minutes they responded with a YES! That being said here is a very interesting chat with a business that can literally save some of your most prized sneakers…


What made you start repairing sneakers?

I come from really humble beginnings and after my parents got a divorce when I was 7, my mom didn’t have much money raising 3 kids and going to school full time.  I was always drawn to sneakers for some reason and I don’t really remember why or any event to spark it. There was no way my mom was out right paying for $100+ shoes for me to ruin.  I’d have to wait until I saved up some money and she would pay half if I paid the other half (usually ending up as my Christmas or birthday present).  I always cleaned my shoes when they got dirty and when it came time to retire them I just kept trying things to make them look good again.  I didn’t really start actually learning things until about 4 years ago; I did a lot of reading and really didn’t restore much. Just read and watched anything I could on the subject, just absorbing information. I then started buying used sneakers to resell them for a profit, at the same time I enjoyed it.

When did you know that you had a talent to restore sneakers?

I really didn’t get the hang of it right away; I wasted and ruined several sneakers when I first started (don’t worry I bought them myself to learn).  It took a lot of reading until I finally decided to just try and learn.  I realized when I first started though I was picking things up quickly.  I still have a lot to learn, at least when it comes to customs as there are many people who are light years ahead of me but I continue to learn each and every day.

What is the process you go through when repairing a sneaker?

This varies per job, as different materials need different preparation.  Usually almost any job needs a good cleaning; this can be as basic as just soap and water, which I recommend, first as there is really no risk of doing more damage than already present.  With any repaint you always want to remove ALL and yes I mean all of the original paint whether it be on a midsole or on leather.  Removing oxidation from soles will start with a good cleaning to make sure you’re actually working with the rubber and not any dirt that is on top.  When I’m done with any job I always look it over and examine everything and think to myself “would I be happy if I got these back in this condition?”  I’m very hard on myself at this stage.

What tools do you use to repair sneakers?

Lots of different things, it depends what I’m doing.  The most commonly used Items I have are 1. Angelus paint.  2. Paint brushes.  3. Cotton swabs.  4. Cotton balls.  5. Acetone.

There really isn’t a “hardest part” (to repair) I’d say but the most time consuming is definitely icing soles.

How long on average does it take for you to do the repairs?

I usually average about 2 weeks, but again it really does depend.  I can get something back in a few days if I’m not too busy or it could be 2 months (really just for icing soles).  Removing oxidation from soles is a delicate process and one that cannot be sped up as I rely on UV rays (indoor or outdoor), so please be patient with me 😉

If one was to be looking for various parts for their sneakers that are damaged where do you suggest they go and look for them?

The cheapest way to find donor parts or whatever it need be is craigslist, you’ll have to do some digging but there’s stuff out there.  The next best bet is Ebay for sure!

Who has been your most interesting client?

My most interesting client was definitely my first one.  At the time I was buying old used beat up kicks and restoring them for a profit.  I was perusing Craigslist and found a guy who had quote a few pairs and in particular a pair of Black/Varsity red 6’s that were really yellowed and the paint was chipping.  We met up and as I was about to leave he asked me “Hey, why do you want these anyways?”.  I told him I restore sneakers and he replied, “what do you mean restore”?  I proceeded to tell him what I intended on doing with that particular pair, by the time I had finished telling him he had pulled a pair of beat up military 4’s from his trunk.  He said “what do you think you can do with these”.  That was my first customer, and at that the most interesting.  A guy who had the trust to give some kicks to a random guy he’d never met before on Craigslist and said “give me a call and let me know the price when you’re done”.

Which pair of sneakers have been the most shocking for you to repair?

None have really shocked me really as I know ahead of time what I’m up against.  I guess one pair of Space Jams the white phylon midsole was shrunk, as I’m not sure what the person had done to them but the midsole definitely was “missing” or shrunk quite a bit without my prior knowledge

Is there a point of non-­repair for a pair of sneakers?

Yes, if material is cut ripped or torn it’s most likely beyond repair (especially patent leather).  Also heel drag, I get this a lot.  If you don’t have a donor sole to swap it with there is no fix for heel drag!

What part of the sneaker is the hardest to repair?

There really isn’t a “hardest part” I’d say but the most time consuming is definitely icing soles.  It takes so long and isn’t something that can be sped up.  Some soles take much longer than others, neither I nor anyone else has really figured out why or what causes different pairs to not clear up.

How many sneakers do you own?

Off the top of my head I’d say about 50.  Not including anything, just sneakers.  A lot our pretty beat up and still need a restoration

What’ your top 3 kicks of all time?

If I’m going off of personal and meaningful I’d say 1. Bunny 8s 2. Black/blue 18s  3. black/white Iverson 6.  If it’s shoes i really want (and probably won’t get), It’s 1. Chris Paul PE 8s.  2. Ray Allen PE 18s 3.  LV Jaspers

Is there a sneaker you missed out on?

The Lightning 4s.  I’m a sucker for 3s and 4s.  Although I had a connect to get it I just had other things I needed to buy for people for Christmas instead of a pair of shoes for myself.

If you could re-­release any sneaker, what sneaker would it be?

The white/black iverson 6s.  They were my middle school basketball shoes and I love iversons 3-6, the questions I don’t care for though in particular.

What’s the most you’ve spent on a pair of kicks?  Which ones?

Honestly this is going to sound horrible.. But the most I’ve spent is about $370, and it was for about 10 pairs.  Yes I had just started browsing niketalk, hypebeast and other sneaker sites (around age 16) and wasn’t really informed on the whole replica/fake shoe concept.  So I was looking for a pair or two to buy when suddenly I found a site that seemed to have every Jordan, Nike and Reebok you could imagine!  Not to mention the price was about $50 a pair, and it got cheaper if you bought more.  So I saved up and bought 10 pairs (all legit colorways now that I recall).  After wearing them for about 2 months they started to fall apart and as I educated myself I started seeing huge differences in colors, shapes, size tags and realized they were all fake and I had gotten got.  I took them all to the Goodwill and donated them.  From then I haven’t had a fake pair of shoes touch my feet.

Now, the most I’ve paid for an authentic (laughs) pair of kicks really might upset you.  I paid retail for the Jordan 2012 olympic 6s, they’re still sitting in there box.  Everything else I buy used and just fix up to wear for myself.  The most I’ve paid for something I’ve worn is probably $100 at most.

How much does it cost for one to use your services? Is there a range of prices depending on how much work you have to do?

There really is no set price on any job as each sneaker is unique and has it’s own story.  Most midsole repaints start around $70 and can go up for more complex midsoles such as Jordan 8’s and Jordan 6’s.  Pictures are always a necessity when requesting a service.  I get so many questions along the lines of “how much do you charge”, “How much to fix my concords”.  It’s impossible to tell as I can’t see what needs done, even a verbal description isn’t going to work, I need actual pictures so I can judge for myself.

Do you see this business blowing up…seeing so many people have sneakers that they would love to have restored?

Yes, at first I just did it as a hobby and now things really are getting bigger and bigger each passing week.  It keeps me on my heels with so many people restoring shoes now a days.  Everything is out there but it does come down to an artistic ability.  Some people just don’t have the hands for it as there paint jobs are sloppy with brush strokes or lines aren’t straight.  I put so much attention to detail that I feel I separate myself from the average Joe just trying to make a buck.  I know there are people out there who will charge you $30 for a repaint, but at the end of the day it’s going to be a $30 repaint and you’ll be able to tell!

Where can someone see samples of the work that you have previously done?

My instagram and facebook have most of my work posted.

How does someone get in contact with you?

There are several ways, the Easiest being my email RaleighRestorations@yahoo.com which to start I need several pictures of the damage and a description from you as to what you see needs work.  Also my facebook http://www.facebook.com/raleighrestorations is fine but I really do prefer email.  You can also check out my Instagram @RaleighRestorations, which I use to publicly update my customers on restorations/customs.


So…what are YOU waiting for? Go dig up those kicks you know are in dyer need of repairs and give Raleigh Restorations a shout! I know that I have a couple of sneakers I know that need a good facelift! A big shout out to DJ Grouch for putting us onto Raleigh Restorations and the work that he does!

  • smo

    This guy is the real deal

  • mpguerrier

    Attention to detail is key….and this guy’s def into detail!

  • SneakerPimp3

    damn! I’m definitely gonna have to send of my joints to this dude!

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Sole Theory is a sneaker lifestyle guide that explores the social impact of the sneaker culture. Users can expect to gain insight on recent trends, historic brands and signature styles that have heavily influenced the shoe industry. Content will be driven by articles, interviews and reviews that will uncover interesting facts and stories that have rarely been told.