Op-Ed | Reebok Sneaker Collabs Are Criminally Underrated

Photo of Op-Ed | Reebok Sneaker Collabs Are Criminally Underrated

Reebok is perhaps best known for its classics line of sneakers, most popular during the aerobics craze of the ’80s and early ’90s and now considered some of the best no-frills kicks on the market. Models such as the Classic Leather, Club C 85, and Workout are highly successful both as mainline sneakers and the subject of collaborations.

Unfortunately, the popularity of Reebok’s classics line paired with today’s consumer penchant for hype, have caused some of Reebok’s sneaker releases to fall under the radar — unjustly so. Reebok has a highly impressive lineup of collaborators, both past and present, ranging from Vetements and Billionaire Boys Club to the more contemporary Pyer Moss and MISBHV.

One of Reebok’s greatest strengths lies in its ability to select exciting and thought-provoking designs from its sportswear archive and allowing its roster of designers to give the models a contemporary twist. In doing so, Reebok shows it understands one of the defining footwear trends of 2019, retro performance sportswear, and, in some cases, takes it a step further by tapping into sneakerheads’ fascination with functionality and technical materials.

The ongoing collaboration with Kerby Jean-Raymond’s Pyer Moss label is proof of that. As artistic director of Reebok Studies__, a new division leading the development of creative talent and ideas, the designer takes inspiration from archival Reebok models but delivers a wholly modern and reimagined aesthetic. Take the Reebok by Pyer Moss Mobius Experiment 3, for example. It draws inspiration from the original Mobius line, which included basketball and turf shoes, but adds premium materials and feels simultaneously retro and relevant. This almost two-year partnership has produced four original sneaker designs and is one of Reebok’s strongest current collaborations.

In addition to giving Jean-Raymond unprecedented creative freedom and having a longstanding partnership with fashion juggernaut Vetements, Reebok also works with the likes of young, forward-thinking brands such as Cottweiler, Korea’s KANGHYUK, Ximon Lee, and Angus Chiang. While those may not be household names to the casual observer, each collaborator has bought into Reebok’s ethos of taking the most beloved or recognizable parts of archival silhouettes and transforming them for the modern consumer.

Ximon Lee’s DMX Trail Hydrex, for example, fuses a neoprene, Chelsea boot-like upper with a decidedly bulky, performance sole. Cottweiler uses a similar, DMX Shear sole unit and combines it with a much more formal driving shoe upper. Similar trail-inspired tooling can be seen on Pyer Moss’ latest release, the Reebok by Pyer Moss Experiment 4 Trail Fury.

For those that prefer more traditional sportswear silhouettes, Cottweiler and Reebok again have you covered, recently presenting the DMX Trail Shadow. The sneaker is also available in a mainline version, featuring the same DMX Shear tooling and busy, vintage sportswear upper as the collaborative iteration.

Reeboks work with Vetements, though, is perhaps its most impressive, due to the fact that the designs are crazy enough to come from Demna Gvasalia’s fashion house but aren’t so farfetched that they become a gimmick. The duo’s Spike Runner 200 is the perfect example of how both brands have been able to coexist without compromising too much on what makes each brand unique.

In short, Reebok’s ability to stay true to its own design ethos, tap into several leading footwear trends, and put together a multi-facetted stable of collaborators and designers places the British sportswear brand firmly at the pinnacle of the footwear industry.

And if that didn’t convince you, the fact that Reebok and adidas were able to come together for a totally unexpected collaboration in the Instapump Fury Boost should have you considering Reebok more seriously next time you’re looking to add to your rotation.

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