If there’s any sportswear brand that can demonstrate a history of rocketing highs and collapsing lows, it’s Reebok. Founded in 1958, Reebok was an extension of the J.W Foster and Sons athletic footwear company, one of the very first to utilize track spikes in their running shoes. Hardly considered a sneaker titan, the sportswear brand has made leaps in recent years thanks to the return of the “dad sneaker” which saw it rocket to an all-time high during the ’80s.
The company that would later become Reebok is first founded in the 1890s by Joseph William Foster in the town of Bolton, United Kingdom. Foster pioneered some of the earliest spiked running shoes.
Foster founds the company J.W. Foster and focuses on developing athletic footwear. His sons join the family business and the name of the company is changed to J.W Foster & Sons.
Foster develops a new style of running sneaker, designed with a leather upper and spiked soles to help grip the ground.
Foster Running Pumps are a hit with athletes and are famously worn by runner Harold Abrahams at the Paris Olympics, as he grabs gold for GB at 100m.
J.W Foster & Sons running pumps continue to be popular across Britain, while being spotted on top athletes during the Olympic Games.
Joe and Jeff Foster, formed companion company Reebok. The name, meaning a grey rhebok, a type of antelope – comes from a South African dictionary a young Joe Foster won.
Reebok hit the US. They grow into new markets and starts selling their products in over 28 countries worldwide.
The sportswear giant beings introducing a clothing and sports accessories to its roster, including track tops that are still produced and designed to this day.
Reebok release one of the most popular sneakers of their tie. The Newport Classic (NPC) range.
The Reebok Classic Leather is first released. While originally made with running in mind, the iconic sneaker was the first Reebok shoe to prioritise casual wear and style over on-track performance.
Actress Cybill Shepherd dons a pair of orange Reebok sneakers to the Emmy Awards. The Freestyle line becomes popular on the streets and in the gym at the height of the 80s aerobics craze.
Reebok makes a move from the iconic Union Jack logo. A rebrand brings the vector logo as the company begins to make waves with professional athletes and sponsorships.
Reebok introduces the infamous ‘Pump’ technology – pumping up inflatable chambers in the shoes upper gives the wearer a more personalised fit. Basketballer Dee Brown inflated his Pumps in front of the audience during before scoring a title-winning dunk during the 1991 NBA Slam Dunk contest while US tennis player Michael Chang endorses the sneaker in a multi-million dollar deal.
In collaboration with NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, Reebok makes yet another bold move in the nineties by creating the ‘Reebok Shaqnosis’ basketball shoe.
Reebok signs a 10-year licensing agreement with the NFL.
A deal is struck with the NBA, seeing Reebok kitting out 29 NBA teams and 16 WNBA teams.
In their first collaboration with a non-athlete, Reebok releases the S Carter collection with Jay Z.
adidas acquire Reebok as a subsidiary in a takeover deal worth approximately $3.5 billion.
Reebok forms a partnership with CrossFit as it becomes sponsors for its worldwide CrossFit Games.
Reebok pays tribute to Keith Haring with the Classic Leather x Keith Haring sneaker. Boasting Haring’s signature vivid colours, the shoe features bold blue and yellow colours, based on his ‘Barking Dogs’ artwork.
The vector logo is replaced with a delta logo, a signifier of change and transformation.
Rapper Kendrick Lamar is signed to Reebok as a brand ambassador.
Fashion model Gigi Hadid joins Reebok as a brand ambassador as part of their #PerfectNever campaign.
Singer Ariana Grande becomes a new ambassador for the brand.
Reebok releases a replica version of the Alien Stompers – worn by Sigourney Weaver’s character Ripley in Aliens.
Joe and Jeff Foster
adidas acquired Reebok as a subsidiary in a takeover deal worth approx $3.5 billion in 2005.
The Freestyle sneaker was introduced in 1982 as the first athletic shoe designed specifically for women. The hot new trend was aerobic dance and Reebok jumped on that trend. Now a classic, the Freestyle remains one of Reebok’s best selling shoes of all time.