You Absolutely Better Wear All The Sneakers You Love, Now!
Crumble Crumble Crumble
If you do not they will disintegrate into more crumbs than a Drake Cake. Period, point blank. If you don’t believe ot have not experienced this for yourself just Google “sneaker crumble”
Why you ask? Hydrolysis
As scary as that sounds it’s a pretty simple concept. Scientifically speaking; Poly Urethanes (PU) which are either Poly (ester) urethane or Poly (ether) urethane begin to degrade under hydrolytic conditions and in oxidative environment. Wired posted a very detailed article on this issue and what they discovered about hydrolysis and sneakers is that
That’s right, the two things that make human life possible—water and air—are killing our shoes. Their role in degrading polyurethane can be attributed to the chemical processes of hydrolysis (in the presence of moisture) and oxidation (in the presence of oxygen). Simply put, the humidity in the air, and, yes, even the air itself, seeps into the PU and, slowly but surely, breaks it into itty-bitty sticky pieces. Delve deeper into the subject, and the news only gets worse. Bottom line: Pricey collectibles shouldn’t be made out of PU.
Polyurethane construction in shoes has ramped up over the past several decades. Light, flexible, comfortable, durable, inexpensive; in many ways, it’s the ideal sneaker material. From the crude waffle runners or the early 1970’s to the latest CAD-designed LeBron 12’s and Kobe 10’s, tricked out with Kevlar and carbon fiber, PU-injected foam continues to be a miracle material for shoe manufacturers, and a ticking time bomb for sneakerheads.
“Nike and Adidas knew back in the early ’90s that their shoes had limited shelf life,” says Alfons Tremml, the commercial manager for Huntsman, a German polyurethane supplier. “When they outsourced their manufacturing to Indonesia and Vietnam, they noticed that high heat and humidity accelerated PU degradation.”
In Plain English fellow sneaker lovers….. Time is not your friend.
What Shoes Are Effected? Any shoe with a PU Midsole
If you’re wondering which of your grails may crumble right under your feet. Simply look to the midsole.
Jordan 1’s, Nike Dunks, Air Force 1’s, Adidas Superstars are all rubber midsoles. These will last and be wearable for decades.
Unfortunately, the Jordan 3’s, 4’s, 5’s, 6’s, 7’s, 8’s and on and on will all fall victim to crumbling, separations and defects.
You can check here to this forum to see what other sneakers may be impacted by this problem
What Can Be Done To Stop This?
If you’re like me and you have some serious heat you’ve picked up over the years and stored away safe and sound away from the world and elements ready for you to breakout for the perfect occasion down in the future there’s realistically 2 choices. 3 if you want to alert Congress or the U.N. to convene special hearings on the issue but that seems extreme so we’ll stick with 2 choices.
1. Store Them In Yet To Be Invented State of The Art Storage Containers
If you didn’t read the full Wired article, they asked some scientist what could be done for those of us who collect sneakers.
The only solution said experts could come up with is to place the shoes in an airtight steel vessel filled with argon. Yeah, science!
“The PU would not degrade because argon has an extremely low chemical reactivity,” explains professor Nguyen. This is an old trick scientists use when they want to prevent an important lab sample (or their tuna sandwiches) from being degraded by undesirable chemical reactions, which frequently happen to be oxidation and hydrolysis.
Shoe manufacturers claim that in recent years they’ve improved PU formulations with additives and stabilizers that prolong the life of midsoles. “We’re not making a product that lasts 20 or 30 years,” says Paul Litchfield, the VP of Reebok’s Advanced Concepts Group. “But we’ve conducted accelerated aging tests, and the shoes are lasting longer.” Exactly how much longer he won’t say, but it’s definitely “longer.” (We asked Nike about PU degradation and what might be done about it, but the company declined to comment.)
2. Wear Your Sneakers
Honestly, as nostalgic as they are. As much as we love the way they make us look and feel and the image and status they give us. The reality is they were not meant to last forever. They will eventually crumble and disentergrate. Even if you opt for a sole swap you’re extending the life of your kicks a few more but they will eventually crumble since you’re just replacing a PU sole with a PU sole.
So wear them, wear them, wear them.
Of course as simple as it is to unDS your collection the problem many face is finding clothes that complement them. Most brands design their colors around the latest shoe releases and colors which gives tons of options for new release pickups but not so much for those 4, 5 or 8 year old picks up you hid away. Ummm, that’s actually what we do.
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