Tagata Pasifika The Pacific voice on New Zealand television since 1987

What’s kicking at Outsole, NZ’s first sneaker donation event

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Alice Lolohea | Reporter/Director/Videographer

Since its beginnings in 2017, Tongan entrepreneur Christian Prescott has taken his business Sneaker Clean NZ to shiny new heights. But he’s still keeping his feet firmly planted on the ground, using his newfound success to collect sneakers for South Auckland youth. 

When we first met Sneaker obsessed Christian Prescott two years ago, he proudly showed us his rare collection of Air Jordans.

“I didn’t start collecting or buying sneakers till I started working full time and started working heaps coz obviously they’re quite expensive,” Prescott said.

Then just 22, Prescott was three years deep into operating Aotearoa’s first professional sneaker cleaning business, Sneaker Clean NZ.

Prescott recalled, “I just had a look into the market and realised there’s a place to go wash your cars, there’s a palace to go wash your clothes – the laundromat.

“There was nowhere to go clean your shoes and that was funny coz you wear your shoes everyday.”

Now the 24-year-old is the proud operator of a company that has not only survived the pandemic, but has also created a community branch of his business. 

Outsole, Aotearoa’s first sneaker donation event saw many Sneakerheads donating their beloved shoes to the cause.

Christian established Clean For A Cause, collecting and cleaning over 500 pairs of high quality sneakers to gift to youth in need. 

“Coming out of that long lengthy lockdown last year, we wanted to do more for our community,” Christian says.

“We understand a lot of these kids don’t receive brand new sneakers all the time. And we all know and love that feeling of opening a box of brand new sneakers. 

“Every kid that receives a pair from the trust gets it in a custom sneaker box, exactly like you get in a store. There’s paper around the shoes, there’s paper inside the shoes. We wanted these kids to feel value and we only give the highest quality pairs as well.”

This month the Sneaker Clean crew have stepped it up a notch, teaming up with Mana Pasifika to create Aotearoa’s very first sneaker donation event, Outsole. 

Much like sneaker conventions overseas, Outsole is a chance for footwear fanatics to trade, buy and sell sneakers, but also donate their own kicks. 

As we enter the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau, a variety of stalls edge a room brimming with activity. In the centre, the main Outsole stall is lined with rows of bins stuffed with familiar brand names like Nike, Timbaland and Adidas.

It took Christian 5 years to build his coveted Air Jordans collection – which he sold in a heartbeat to make sure he could pay his staff during the lockdown.

Christian says he and his team have already emptied the bins eight times since the event kicked off – and it’s only one hour in. 

“The response has been incredible,” enthuses Christian who is clearly blown away. 

“Being able to unite the community through sneakers for a cause? It’s something special you know? There’s a lot of buying, selling sneakers, things that are happening but this a lot more heartwarming, being able to do something for others as well.”

Which is what Christian has been doing since he launched his entire business. Remember that collection of coveted kicks he showed us two years ago?

“Took me about five years to make my collection but during Covid we were struggling quite a bit,” Christian says.

“To get the business to move forward, I ended up selling everything that I own and all my sneakers so I was able to raise funds and keep paying my boys.

“It was a bit emotional, I think my mum cried first just coz she knows how hard I’ve worked. You gotta sacrifice some things sometimes – you gotta learn to go without.”

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