This article was first published on October 2, 2015

To many people, camping out in a line that snakes around the block to drop $150 or more on a pair of sneakers seems like a ludicrous waste of both time and money. Yet, when the U.S. sneaker market is worth around $28 billion, and the sneaker resale market is worth around $1 billion, covetable shoes seem more like a commodity than an accessory. So how do people protect their investments?

For as long as there have been sneakers, there have been sneaker cleaners. Any local Foot Locker carries them, and there are also the tried and true methods of soap and toothbrush, dishwashing liquid, and OxiClean. A bit of bleach on the laces, a touch of cleaning wipe on the soles—you know the drill. But recently, high-end, brand-name sneaker cleaning products, like Jason Markk, Crep Protect, and Sneakers ER, have been gaining popularity and leaving the old standards in the dust. The rise of the athleisure trend surely has a lot to do with it.

“There are so many more people willing to buy decent sneakers,” says Robert Stewart, one of the founders of the Glasgow-based cleaning and repair company Sneakers ER. “Guys, in general, spend fortunes on their shoes, spend fortunes on how to display those shoes, and it’s nice to also see them on your display.”

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