Today, any merit in footwear seems to be heavily contingent on current technology. Many sneakerheads want footwear that is lightweight and comfortable, with one-piece sock uppers and space-age, NASA foam soles.
Reebok's Club C silhouette has been experiencing a recent spell of popularity, despite being a retro model that doesn't pander to sneaker culture's current fetish with futuristic function. Reebok's catalog includes quite a few silhouettes that derive from vintage athletics, and now are positioned as lifestyle options, giving rise to the brand's Classics segment, which includes the Classic Leather, the Workout, the Ex-O-Fit and the Newport Classic (NPC). But the Club C is one that we've become more familiar with over the past year or so.
The Reebok Club C (short for Champion) arrived in 1985 more or less as a re-titled version of the Reebok Revenge Plus, perhaps named to be more in line with tennis club dress codes and conventions, with a name that truly evokes the image of an ace serve.
Gary Warnett writes for SSENSE; "Tennis’ dress codes demanded a level of minimalism that Reebok’s bestselling output answered. After the Newport Classic line’s debut, the Revenge Plus (later renamed the Club C) built on those designs with a club favorite that, once again, became a bestseller with casual athletes."
Much like the Reebok Freestyle, original versions of the Club C were crafted with leather uppers and some with a cozy, terry towel liner, and both silhouettes were favored among fans of the aerobic trend that surfaced in the '80s, which Jane Fonda helped to champion in her Workout VHS series, naturally wearing Freestyles.
At the time, Reebok even surpassed athletics giant Nike in size and sales. The Club C design also included Reebok's signature label window, displaying Reebok branding alongside a British flag, despite Reebok having been fully acquired by American investor Paul Fireman by this time. After acquiring a foothold in aerobics and tennis, Fireman later led Reebok's expansion into basketball footwear.
The Club C didn't really have the benefit of being associated with a prominent athlete endorsement like adidas' Stan Smith or Nike's John McEnroe, but last year and in 2017, this underrated silhouette is finally getting the shine it deserves, under the now adidas-owned Reebok brand.
It does makes sense given the long list of tennis silhouettes that have become popular in streetwear and sneaker circles. There are more than enough recent examples we can point to, adidas' Stan Smith comes to mind first as it was essentially ubiquitous in 2015, in addition to the Common Projects Achilles Low or the Nike Court, which all showed that tennis footwear can be elevated to appeal to sneakerheads.
While the Club C's timeless design was pulled off shelves for a brief time, the silhouette re-emerged in recent years with strong mainline releases as well as collaborations with the likes of London-based Palace Skateboards, Copenhagen sneaker boutique Naked, Boston retail mainstay Concepts, and even Compton hometown hero Kendrick Lamar.
Several weeks ago, Reebok also debuted a Club C campaign fronted by model Gigi Hadid, indicating that the silhouette will be a big priority for Reebok in 2017.
Now read our interview with Our Legacy's Jockum Hallin about the brand's collaboration with Vans.