Anyone who has owned a pair of sneakers knows the struggle of trying their absolute hardest to keep them looking as clean and brand new as possible once they take them out of the box and start wearing them. Some people are lucky enough that they can afford to replace a pair they might scuff or cover in dirt. For everyone else, there are countless remedies like scrubbing with a toothbrush, tossing them into the washer, or using one of many cleaners on the market. That’s where the new eco-friendly brand, DFNS, comes in. Earlier this month, professional BMX rider and sneaker enthusiast Nigel Sylvester was announced as the first ambassador for the new, sustainable cleaning brand. As someone pedaling around New York City his whole life, Sylvester knows as well as anybody how hard it is to keep his sneakers looking fresh. By partnering with DFNS, his main hope is to help out the kids that he once was just like when he was growing up in Jamaica, Queens. 

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Image via DFNS

“Keeping my sneakers clean, especially after being outside all day riding, sweating, and kicking it in the streets, it was important. I still have that mentality now,” says Sylvester. “I remember the days when I was young, early teens, and had to use soap and water to clean my sneakers. It's amazing to be able to come full circle and be an ambassador for a brand like DFNS.”

DFNS offers a varied product line at the moment including traditional cleaners, portable wipes, repellant sprays to weather the elements, and even fresheners for clothing as well. Its signature Airopack technology uses pressurized air instead of harmful chemicals to spray cleaners. The product itself is made of water-based solvents, too, another detail that showcases the brand’s commitment to sustainability.

DFNS Products
Image via DFNS

“The fact that DFNS made being eco-friendly one of the most important things to them, from the product, to the packaging, to the mindset, I think that was genius. And it is definitely one of the things that attracted me the most to working with the brand,” says Sylvester. 

Sylvester recalls a recent situation when he and close friend Ronnie Fieg were both visiting their high school alma mater, Benjamin N. Cardozo, in Queens, for a charity basketball game and noticed a kid running barefoot in 20-degree weather to catch the bus with a pair of white Nike Air Force 1s in his hand.

“He didn’t want to mess his shoes up. He was trying. He didn't want to miss the bus, but he didn't want to mess up his all-whites,” says Sylvester. “I know that this same kid that may only have the resources to get one or two pairs of shoes for a half-semester of school. Having a product like DFNS to keep those pristine as long as possible is extremely important.” 

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Image via DFNS

Some might be thinking, “Didn’t Sylvester release an Air Jordan I collaboration that is made to look worn and dirty on purpose?” The justification from Sylvester is quite simple.

“I don't only just wear distressed shoes. I feel like nowadays, no one is one-dimensional. Everyone does multiple things, and you may wake up one day and you want to rock a fresh pair. And you may wake up one day and want to wear a distressed pair of Jordan 1s. It's good to have that option. I'm fortunate enough to have that option.”