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Sole Machina, The Guys Who Rescue Kicks From The Depths of Crumble Jungle - The Art of Sole Swapping

Editorials

Jonathan Leong
August 23, 2022

Despite the tragic fact that kicks like the Air Max tend to crumble over time, Sole Machina has been researching the art of sneaker restoration, dedicating years into perfecting the process

What drives one to pursue the craft of sole swapping and sneaker restoration?

At our core we love sneakers and the whole culture around sneaker appreciation and collecting. In Asia it can be frustrating to maintain your collection - especially when it comes to models such as the Nike Air Max, they have gained a notoriety for crumbling after a few years. Despite this tragic fact, the Air Max remains one of Nike’s most popular silhouettes and people can’t get enough of it even after all these years. We started researching the art of sneaker restoration for ourselves and after dedicating years into perfecting the process we started taking orders from friends who wanted to restore their own prized grails. Soon after enquires started trickling in despite our modest social media presence.  

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In sole swapping there is a term called “donor” pair, what does it entail?

A donor pair is basically another (generally cheaper to get general release) shoe, which is identical in shape to the ‘damaged / crumbled’ pair. We take the sole and swap it with the damaged pair’s crumbling hide. It can be a tedious process depending on the existing condition of the pair that needs to be restored. We’ve experimented with lots of techniques and glue mixtures to get the right balance and ensure restored pairs emerge from our operating theatre as good as new.

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Other than sole-swapping what other projects  do you guys take in?

We’re working on a series of customizations and collaborations with various creatives and artists, this is on top of our bespoke client work - some of which involves serious experimentation…we are now in the midst of combining a Red Wing sole with a Nike body…amongst other things.

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Thanks for sharing guys!

Our pleasure, talk again soon.

You can find Sole.Machine via: https://www.instagram.com/sole.machina/

A.K.A The Cyborg Samurai is the Head of Content & Advisor for Ox Street. His career highlights include branded content & direction work for the likes of Nike / Kobe Bryant, MTV, Tiger Beer and New Balance. Since 2008 he has been behind content & campaigns that have been seen by millions across both traditional & digital platforms. He is also a meme enthusiast and has a satirical blog called The Singaplex