Oct 18, 2023

Mom Learns Kids Don't Want Creases in Their Sneakers

"Why are you walking like that?"

As my 12-year-old son crept across our living room, he turned his toes outward and walked on his heels. He stepped gingerly, though I don't know if there's another way to step when one avoids using their toes. I was perplexed and wanted to know the deal.

My eyes homed in on his hours-old Nikes. We'd recently returned from Shoe Carnival, where I'd parted with approximately $65 to replace his outgrown everyday sneakers.

I know that wearing cool kicks is important when you're in seventh grade, but so is being comfortable in the shoes you wear all day. I thought the new shoes were hurting his feet. But that wasn't it.

"He's trying not to crease his shoes," my other son said. "Other kids made fun of him because his old Nikes had wrinkles in the top."

Apparently, in 2023, having creases in your leather shoes — you know, something that naturally occurs when you break them in — can get you picked on in middle school.

So many things about parenting tweens are baffling. I'd thought I had a decent handle on the current rules for seventh grade, but my lack of sneaker knowledge indicated otherwise.

I did what any clueless Gen X parent would do: I took my question to Facebook. I posted a synopsis of the crease situation and waited to see what other parents would say. Some parents seemed surprised to learn that creases in kicks were supremely uncool, but most seemed aware of this fashion don't.

This isn't just a middle-school thing. Shirley Hickle, a photographer from Ohio, said, "My senior boys won't do certain poses (squatting, foot up, etc.) because they're afraid they'll crease their shoes." Other parents said their kids stuffed their shoes with tissue paper at night to help them keep their shape.

You can also fall down a veritable internet rabbit hole searching for how to get creases out of your sneakers, but the online back-and-forth led me to discover crease guards, sometimes called crease protectors.

While the undesirability of creases was not known to me, it is certainly not news to a slew of Amazon vendors selling crease guards. These hard plastic inserts are designed to slip into your shoes and help them hold their shape. Crease guards come in different sizes and are available for different styles of shoes such as the Dunk Low or the Air Force 1.

I remember seventh grade. After my first day at a new school I begged my parents to buy me flare-leg jeans because the straight-leg Levi's that had been OK at my old school instantly branded me as a tween fashion flop. They bought me the flares, and while that didn't have a sweeping impact on my life, I remember well the relief of fitting in, or at least standing out less.

I ordered the crease guards; a set of four was less than $10. I still think the creasing issue is silly, but that's OK. Sometimes it's hard to be 12, and if a cheap piece of plastic can make it a little easier for a minute, then I'm not sorry to buy it. There are way more frivolous Amazon purchases that have my name on them.

My son says the guards aren't uncomfortable — though I'm skeptical — and so far they've kept those creases away.

Read next