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How Collaborations and Partnerships Will Fuel Authentic Brands Group’s Plans for Reebok

Reebok has delivered several lauded collaborations as of late, and the heritage sneaker brand’s new parent company, Authentic Brands Group (ABG), believes it has plenty more to offer.

he expects the Reebok business to climb more than 20% in 2022, with upward of $5 billion in retail sales globally — and $10 billion in annual retail sales globally within the next five years. “People say, ‘Oh, you’re going after Adidas’ or ‘You’re going after Nike.’ We’re not going after Adidas, we’re not going after Nike. We’re going after building a great brand,”

Since the $2.5 billion acquisition closed in March, ABG has solidified several high-profile partnerships. Most recently, it inked a deal with Macy’s to carry an expanded assortment of Reebok items, and in February, it signed a deal with Foot Locker to exclusively carry certain Reebok shoes in its U.S. stores and website. Late last year, ABG stated it had entered into a partnership with JD Group to distribute Reebok across thousands of stores in North America and Europe including JD Sports, Finish Line, DTLR, Shoe Palace, Size?, Sprinter and SportZone.

From a product perspective, Reebok — which was previously owned by Adidas — will have a sharpened focus on high-heat collaborations and groundbreaking partnerships. Most recently, the brand revealed its latest range with legendary interior design firm Eames Office, continuing the atypical partnership that launched in summer 2021. The latest effort features five new iterations of the Classic Leather, with two looks landing on Reebok.com on June 10 and three more on June 21.

Looking ahead, ABG is confident partnerships and collaborations will advance Reebok’s position in the greater sneaker landscape. Natasha Fishman, CCO and EVP of marketing at ABG, specifically made mention of its long-term partnership with luxury fashion company New Guards Group, the home of brands including Opening Ceremony, Palm Angels and several others.

In tandem with ABG, we’re now able to look at the space with wider eyes to pursue both the upper echelon of fashion partnerships and the most unique cultural stories the market will see. With our heritage leading the way, we’re continuing to honor our OGs while bringing Reebok into new spaces and welcoming new consumers to the brand,” said Todd Krinsky, Reebok senior VP and GM of product.

Below, Fishman shares insights with FN into its plans to further Reebok’s position in the sneaker landscape.

What is the ABG vision for Reebok in the streetwear space?

“There’s a conversion in the approach toward streetwear and thinking really more from a cultural perspective. Certainly for Reebok, that vision is to retain its position and grow it. Of course we’re commercial, we’re looking to build business, but we want to leverage its place [in streetwear] to help drive the core, to help amplify and grow those other core businesses.”

How do partnerships play in Reebok’s position in the streetwear space?

“This is maybe a very simple answer, but it advances it. It’s about finding and seeking out relevant partners, and that relevancy has different attributes. They’re maybe a little untraditional, but not untraditional for the sake of being untraditional. In a case of Eames, it’s relevancy in design. They were not only galvanizing design, but modern furniture design can be attributed to Charles and Ray Eames. You see that thread flow through modern design today: furniture, furnishings, toys. In terms of future partnerships, I would say [Eames] is a bellwether in terms of seeking out partners, brands, collaborators that stand for something unique in their own respective space, similarly the way that Reebok does.”

Looking ahead, how will Reebok approach partnerships?

“From a business perspective, it is absolutely to leverage collaborations and partnerships to help elevate the brand, to help drive relevancy for the brand. Absolutely there’s the commercial element, but [the creative vision is] relevancy, it’s bringing something new to the world, bringing something that’s going to drive conversation, that helps the brand show up in spaces that it’s not currently in and helping get more relevant in the conversations it’s already a part of. These icon styles that were part of the zeitgeist in the ’90s and continue to be part of the zeitgeist, collaborations [using them will] help amplify that and introduce them to new generations.”

How would you describe Reebok’s position in the sneaker landscape today?

“From a business perspective, there’s a ways to go. Certainly, there are big No. 1s and No. 2s out there, so there’s a lot of growth opportunity. In terms of relevance, same thing. It’s just not out there as comprehensively. And where distribution is being driven, how we’re driving it as a company, we’re specifically thinking about where we’re taking the brand. I’ll go back to the [New Guards Group] relationship. The opportunity there is to drive elevation and partner with an organization that can bring you there, and do it with authority. That partnership is going to be critical to the growth, but also continuing the elevation of the brand.”

What about Reebok’s position in the world of sneakers impressed ABG the most prior to the acquisition that it doesn’t want to change?

“The icon strategy is 100%. That was a no brainer. Using Club C as a core, using Classic Leather as a core, Nano as a core, Float as a core, Zig as a core. Those are staples of the line and the way that they’re interpreted, it’s almost endless. In some ways it was like don’t change anything. Don’t change anything when it comes to design, don’t change the footwear, this is something that is so in some ways pure because it hasn’t been out there. There are so many things you can do just with the icons, just from a colorways perspective. There’s just so much to go, not to mention these incredible collaborations. There’s a very unique ethos that belongs to this brand. Don’t change that.”

How would you like to see this position change or advance?

“We see opportunity in companion categories. I think growing the women’s business is important in terms of just expanding our foothold in active as well as lifestyle. There’s very thoughtful parallel paths there, and then there’s also an intersection of those two components.”

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