Reebok’s ’80s and ’90s Sneakers Are Making It Cool Again

Reebok isn’t as big as was in its heyday, but sneaker industry insiders believe the brand is in a great position for resurgence, which will be driven by its classics business.

“I’m seeing more Reebok at retail, and I’m hearing more retailers speak kindly about the brand,” Matt Powell, senior industry advisor for sports with The NPD Group Inc., told FN. “This speaks to the sportswear-driven business right now, as opposed to the performance-driven business. What Reebok is getting traction from is sportswear product.”

And Peng Cheng, owner of boutique retailer Bait — and an admitted ‘90s Reebok connoisseur — agrees.

“Usually, we see brands trending off their classic-silhouette sales. And what we’ve seen in the last 12 months from Reebok is their classics business picking up,” the storeowner said.

While Reebok’s dollar share of the multibillion-dollar sport lifestyle footwear segment is less than 1 percent, according to NPD’s retail tracking service, its sales have grown over the last two years. The market research company said Reebok’s sport lifestyle footwear sales increased 27 percent in the 12-month period ending April 2018, and 8 percent in the 12 months ending April 2017.

Reebok Workout Plus
Reebok Workout Plus
CREDIT: Reebok

Cheng is seeing pickup in specific styles and looks from Reebok in his Bait stores.

“The younger customers are finding out about Reebok through the white-on-whites or the white vintage classics — Ex-O-Fit, Workout, Club Cs, women’s Freestyle. Although I still feel it has a really big ceiling on the women’s side that’s not being exposed yet,” Cheng said.

Bait is a frequent Reebok collaborator and most notably this year dropped multiple shoes, with the brand featured at a pop-up shop in February over NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles. The lineup boasted reimagined iterations of the Question, Kamikaze II, DMX Run 10, DMX Fusion, Workout, Club C and Ex-O-Fit silhouettes.

Bait Reebok Question Snake 2
Bait x Reebok Question “Snake 2.0”

According to Powell, the ascent of Reebok is likely representative of what consumers in the marketplace want: differentiation.

“One of the trends we’re going to see in 2018 is the rise of smaller brands,” Powell said. “The consumer wants to wear sneakers, but they want different sneakers than their friends have, and it’s not enough to do a shoe in a bunch of colors to think that creates the distinction the kid’s after. They really want different shoes, and I think we’re going to see brands like Reebok have a renaissance.”

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