5 Times Reebok Influenced Popular Culture

5 Times Reebok made a massive impact on pop-culture (Image via sportskeeda)
5 Times Reebok made a massive impact on pop-culture (Image via sportskeeda)

As an acclaimed sportswear brand, Reebok has majorly left a mark on pop culture with gym, tennis, and basketball sneakers, as well as famous collaborations with celebrity endorsements in limited editions. With a solid sneakers track record and innovative technology, this American footwear and apparel label has consistently competed with its top brand's such as Nike and Adidas.

There have been numerous instances where the American fitness footwear company has significantly impacted the pop-culture world and begun its own revolution. Here is a list of the top five times Reebok has influenced trending culture.

No-Low Dunk, 1996 Allen Iverson, and three other times Reebok made a huge impact on pop culture

1) Reebok Women's Freestyle Hi Fitness Classic

A new West Coast fitness craze spread across the country in the early 1980s. During a visit to his wife's aerobics class, the label's executive Angel Martinez noticed a lack of proper footwear.

Therefore, he collaborated with designer Paul Brown to construct Freestyle, the brand's first legitimate female-oriented sneaker. The Women's Freestyle Hi Fitness Classic Shoe was released in 1982 and transformed the sneaker and fitness world in no time.

The aerobics craze caught on through strategic setups in fitness studios, and the label sold over 30,000 pairs in the first month. The icon Jane Fonda also wore these sneakers in her classes. Moreover, other celebrities eventually embraced the new sneakers. An example of this is when actress Cybill Shepherd arrived at the 1985 Emmys wearing these sneakers.

Eventually, the Freestyle became a massive hit among sneakerheads and was spotted as 5411s at sale for $54 all over New York's boroughs.

2) No-Low Dunk

The Pump, which debuted in 1989 and was a defining moment for fusing innovation and footwear, is arguably the label's pinnacle moment of convergence between athletics and culture. The "Pump Omni Zone II" No-Low Dunk was the first of its kind to use an internal inflation device, allowing wearers to personalize their fit by efficiently pumping up the tongue. These sneakers were an iconic answer to Nike's Air Jordans.

Dee Brown put this footwear label on the map in 1991 during the NBA All-Star Weekend dunk contest when he pumped up his sneaker just before his no-look dunk. This step demonstrated its value to a nationwide, if not global, audience. The kicks became the preferred footwear of a diverse group of athletes, including global tennis champion Michael Chang, who was endorsed by the label.

Moreover, its most popular commercials featured some of the biggest names in sports at the time, including Dominique Wilkins, Dennis Rodman, Shaquille O'Neal and the comedian Sinbad.

The kicks went on sale in 1991 for $140 at select retailers.

3) 1996 Allen Iverson

The brand has had many classic athletic collaborations, including the label's robust endorsement of the NBA icon Allen Iverson. The label beat Nike to sign the basketball pro over 20 years ago and officially extended him a lifetime contract in 2001.

The label, with the understanding of Allen's individuality, created the most iconic basketball sneakers timeless franchise: the Question and Answer. Iverson's Question and Answer sneakers are the second-longest-running basketball segment in history and remain popular among sneakerheads.

The original Reebok Allen Question went on sale for $100 for sneakerheads. Later, Cam'ron, the rapper, introduced the newest version of Question in Dipset-theme in the fall of 2018 for $200.

4) 1999 The Hot Boyz

In the 1990s, the American footwear brand carved out a different course by endorsing musicians and sportspeople. Its sneakers were trendy on the feet of rapper Lil Wayne, as well as other members of the Hot Boys, who sported the Workout sneakers, termed "Soldiers." In 1999, James Hardaway, global product manager for Reebok, noticed the link and convinced his executives to dress the artists for Juvenile and Mannie Fresh's I Got That Fire video.

Reebok's willingness to gamble on an unproven marketing strategy — fusing the worlds of athletics and music — is what helped the company cement its cultural relevance.

5) 2001 Chanel x Reebok

The American footwear label established the foundation for athletic and high-fashion sneaker partnerships long before streetwear infiltrated the luxury market. For example, the Chanel x Reebok Instapump Fury debuted at the French label's spring 2001 show, featuring Instapump's cagelike silhouette accentuated with Chanel's interlocking-C branding on the heel.

The Chanel x Reebok InstaPump Fury was never mass-produced, with only one example appearing at the 2015 exhibition "Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture." While talking about the iconic sneakers, the American Federation of Arts, which arranged the traveling exhibition in collaboration with Toronto's Bata Shoe Museum, stated:

"The Chanel x Reebok InstaPump Fury is one of the very first and most enigmatic high fashion footwear collaborations."

While a pair of these shoes still exist in Reebok's Boston archive, the lack of information on the silhouette's complete aspects makes it a fascinating product by the sportswear brand.

These five Reebok collaborations ushered in a major cultural shift while also distinguishing the brand from its competitors.

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Edited by Priya Majumdar