Shoe repair shop goes viral for its sneaker fixes – it’s where celebrities send their US$6,000 Dior and Gucci shoes to get patched up
- Shoe Lab started out cleaning Adidas Gazelles. Now it fixes US$6,000 Dior sneakers and US$1,000 Christian Louboutin heels and its videos of the repairs go viral
- Fixing tattered Gucci tennis shoes, worn-out Balenciaga logos or suede a washing machine messed up is all in a day’s work, and UK celebrities are full of praise
A small shoe repair shop in the east of England has become a favourite among British celebrities and sports stars who need their fancy sneakers, heels and flats repaired.
Shoe Lab, a Boston, Lincolnshire-based shop, started in January 2020 as a local cobbler that cleaned Adidas Gazelles for £10 (US$12). Now it is a UK-wide service that fixes up hundreds of pairs of Gucci, Balenciaga, and Louis Vuitton shoes every week.
The work is highly skilled and laborious. Head of painting Andreia Pacheco, who also makes Shoe Lab’s Instagram videos, says she can spend 20 minutes fixing a single Alexander McQueen logo.
Shoe Lab’s founders operate on the belief that many major luxury footwear brands are not interested in making their shoes last, which has created an opportunity for the repair shop.
Co-founder Luke Goodyear, 32, says he will never buy a pair of sneakers from Swedish label Axel Arigato or from Burberry Group because of ink that has a tendency to run.
“Even though people are paying £1,000 for shoes, like these Diors, the dye can run in them,” adds Darren Overton, 55, a business partner and Kye’s father. “You’d think if you’ve paid £1,000, the ink wouldn’t run.” Representatives from Burberry, Christian Dior, Christian Louboutin, and Axel Arigato did not return requests for comment.
The Shoe Lab owners have found that the best repeat business comes from Louboutin owners. Customers wear them out on the town “once, and the red comes off”, says Kye. Others will “save all year to get them, so they’ll ask for red protective film on the bottom”, he adds. The distinctive sole is of utmost importance.
“You’ll never see a girl on social media wearing Louboutins standing still. They’ll all be doing this,” he says, lifting his leg to show the rear of the shoe.
Some customers send dozens of pairs of shoes at a time for repair. Much of the footwear is well loved, well worn, and well used – a US$6,000 pair of Dior sneakers were repaired after being damaged while skateboarding – but lots of work comes from fixing other companies’ substandard repair jobs or customer mistakes.
Owners of spiked sneakers often try to glue them back on with huge dabs of shop-bought superglue, which inevitably smears and smudges the finish. “That happens all the time,” observes Kye.
Putting shoes in a washing machine is another big no-no – and an opportunity for Shoe Lab. “It totally ruins the suede,” Kye says, noting the mark of the material when it’s healthy: “We’ll brush it all back up so you can see your fingers brushing it back again.”
Goodyear gets particularly excited about the prospect of people wearing their trainers at muddy music festivals and the subsequent demand for his services. But he knows Shoe Lab customers are primarily traipsing around town, not charging through an obstacle course.
“The world has gone mad. Kids nowadays want Alexander McQueens for Christmas,” he says. And when they get damaged, Shoe Lab will be there to fix them up.