Hi. It’s 10pm now and we just got ice cream from the new place that just opened up downstairs. I’m so full right now, but I’ll try my best to power through this blog post. 😄
So, a couple of weeks ago I found my 20-year-old platform Old Skool Vans in my mom’s attic. Yep, I bought them during college in 1998. All my skate homies used to laugh at them because back then platform sneakers looked kind of ridiculous and too Spice Girlish, but I loved them. And I was so excited I found them because I know platform Vans have made a comeback.
Since they were faded, beat-up, and yellowed, I decided to clean them up and bring them back to life. I’ve written blog posts about how to dye leather boots (here) and how to paint leather shoes (here), but I’ve never dyed suede shoes before until now. In this post, I’ll walk through the steps of how to use Sole Bright, how to dye suede shoes (from faded blue to black—it’s so easy there’s not much to it), and basically how I restored these old skool Vans to almost-new condition.
What You’ll Need
For Yellowed Soles
For Suede and Canvas
-Suede Dye (I used Angelus Suede Dye in Black)
-Acrylic Leather Paint for the canvas and accents (I used Angelus Flat Black and Angelus White)
-Newspaper to protect your workspace
-Small disposable cups or bowls for the dye/paint
-Gloves might be a good idea, but I didn’t need them
-New laces (I used BBoy Laces because I like my 90s shoes looking phat!)
-New insoles (I actually kept the original insoles)
Clean the Shoes
First I prepped the shoes by cleaning the suede. I just brushed them with an old toothbrush dipped in a mixture of warm water + dish detergent. Then I brushed them again with just warm water to remove all the dirt and soap. I also scrubbed the white soles to get them as clean as I could before I treated them with Sole Bright.
Whiten the Soles with Sole Bright
This was my first time using Sole Bright, but I must say it’s a miracle product. I have thrown out so many pairs of old Nikes because the soles got yellow and the shoes looked nasty. But this stuff can treat the yellow-causing oxidation and restore them back to white. Seriously, it works.
1. Shake the bottle. You can pour some out into a small disposable cup or dip into the bottle like I did.
2. Brush the Sole Bright on to the yellowed soles. Apply liberally, which means you need a nice, kind of thick layer. Be careful not to get the product on your hands or any parts of the shoes or other surfaces that you don’t want treated. This stuff is super strong and stings your skin.
3. Wrap the shoes in saran wrap. Place the shoes on a piece of saran wrap and lightly tap the saran wrap in place on to the soles. This keeps the product from drying out so that it stays activated.
4. Place the shoes in the sun. The product works with the UV rays of the sun, so you’ll need to leave them outside for 2 to 4 hours. You might need to do multiple sessions, depending on how severe the yellowing on your shoes is. I did two sessions.
You can also use a reptile light bulb if you don’t have a place to leave the shoes.
Dye the Suede
1. Apply tape to the soles so you don’t accidentally get dye on them.
2. Pour some dye into a small disposable cup and brush on to the suede with a paintbrush.
I feel like I had so much more control with the suede dye than I did when dyeing or painting leather.
Paint the Canvas and Accents
I decided to paint the faded canvas with acrylic leather paint. I don’t think the material would have taken up the dye, so paint seemed like the way to go. Coverage was awesome, but the canvas felt very crunchy when the paint dried. I didn’t mind though because the results were pretty great.
I also repainted the white leather details, logo, and striping.
Lace Them Up and Show Them Off
Once the shoes were dry, I put in new laces. I also used a shaving razor to shave off some lint balls that were stuck to the inside lining of the shoes.
I’m so happy with how the shoes turned out. The whole process was so much fun and painting the shoes was so cathartic. I’m looking for other shoes to transform and restore.
Thanks for reading and stopping by!
Sweatshirt :: Polo Ralph Lauren (vintage; thrifted for $10! similar Champion here)
Jeans :: Frame
Shoes :: Vans (current platform style here)
Bag :: MiuMiu (similar; budget-savvy silver detail here)
Earrings :: c/o @thepaperbeadprincess (I won them on an IG giveaway! I love how she uses recycled paper for her beads, and I love her positive spirit.)