Our favorite? The Essential Kit from Jason Markk, a pick that won’t come as a surprise to anyone tuned into the comings and goings of sneaker culture. Launched in 2007 by Jason Mark Angsuvarn, who identifies, first and foremost, as a sneakerhead, the brand is known to surpass all expectations when it comes to bringing dingy kicks back to life, going so far as establishing a painfully hip Los Angeles-based shop devoted to cleaning sneakers.
But this kit isn’t exclusive to sneakerheads. We know because we are not they.
What you get is a small but mighty 4 oz. bottle of clear solution and a handcrafted wood brush — basically everything you need to get started. Not only is this magical stuff fit for all colors and materials, including the most delicate grades of suede, but it’s completely biodegradable and won’t leave white shoes with a yellow tint, as is often the case with chemical-happy cleaners over time.
“I didn’t trust any of the products on the market,” Angsuvarn told me. “And I knew I wasn’t alone.” He resolved to create a solution without any harsh chemicals or abrasives. Instead, it’s a mix of natural soaps, with the key component being a coconut oil derivative, which Angsurvarn earmarks as an effective natural conditioner. And looking at my supple New Balance midsoles, I’d have to say it does.
Jason Markk currently lists the solution as “98.3% natural.” Seem weirdly specific? Angsuvarn would say you’re not wrong. The small missing percentage reflects the product’s added fragrance, a subtly sweet scent that rejects nearly all categorization (is “fresh” a scent?).