When I say that, what comes to mind?
For me, a child of the 80s and a teen of the 90s, I think of these:
Reebok was Nike before Nike was Nike. (Step Reebok, anybody? PURPLE PINK TEAL BLACK!) There was a little bit of celebrity endorsement, but bold, bright funky products were the star, because, after all, Reebok let U.B.U.
And since then…um…crickets? Not really. They never stopped existing. But you tell me what Reebok has been known for since then. (Oh yeah, Easy Tone. I got a check from the class action suit. Whoopsie!)
Cut to: twenty years later…CROSSFIT. Such a funky, fringe, down and dirty sport-hobby thing. Reebok embraced it, branded it, and made it A THING. (Their CrossFit logo has even taken over and become their brand logo.) When I think about CrossFit (grunting out basic exercises in an extreme way and probably twisting an ankle?) I think “no thanks, weirdo. I care not about your WOD.” But when I watch it on TV, I am RIVETED!!! It’s like track and field. It’s basic in the best, “pared down to simple feats of physical strength, technique and endurance” way possible. Totally kooky, but totally owning it. And the ‘bok is all about it.
Reebok has a history of embracing specific sports and fitness trends (aerobics, Step Reebok) so this is a move that’s true to the brand’s DNA. It’s authentic. It feels right. They’re also the official footwear brand of the UFC, they have a line called “combat” (Fuck yeah!), and they have a partnership with Les Mills developing apparel and workouts. (Les Mills = Body Pump.)
Reebok is getting back to what they’ve been best at. Not trying to out-Nike nike or out-pro UnderArmour, but instead being a little funky dunky fringe, and celebrating specific, not-mainstream sports. They’re reissuing a lot of classics, and their current collection of fitness apparel reminds me of the late 80s/early 90s era when they were last kicking ass. (Check out their “Rally” summer lookbook here.) It’s all coming back together. Good on you, Reebok. U.B.U.