Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
Dior sneakers being repaired at Shoe Lab, a UK-wide service that fixes up designer shoes and is earning the praise of British celebrities, sports stars and influencers. Photo: Instagram

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.

Shoe Lab’s success comes from its addictively satisfying videos depicting the process of repairing US$6,000 Dior sneakers and US$1,000 Christian Louboutin heels for its 50,000 Instagram followers.
Almost every day, the shop revives worn-out Balenciaga logos and tattered Gucci tennis sneakers, garnering praise from celebrities like singer Kerry Katona, Love Island star Joe Garratt, and England cricket captain Ben Stokes, as well as style and fitness influencers with millions of followers.

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.

A pair of Yeezy sneakers being painted at Shoe Lab. Photo: Instagram
“The spikes on the Louboutin trainers come off all the time,” says co-founder Kye Overton. “Somebody messaged the other week saying 25 spikes had fallen off,” all from a single pair. That is about a quarter of the 100 or so spikes that come on new shoes.

“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.

Gucci sneakers at Shoe Lab. Photo: Instagram

“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.

Shoe Lab repairs sneakers from brands such as Adidas and luxury ones from brands such as Balenciaga. Photo: Instagram

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 team is bewildered by how fast the company has grown and the total number of shoes they repair every day, some 50-plus pairs. Kye, a self-described “ shoe addict”, says he owns £35,000 worth of shoes and constructed shelving around his bed that is designed to show them off.
Almost every day, the shop revives worn-out Balenciaga logos and tattered Gucci tennis sneakers. Photo: Instagram

“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.