Published on July 15th, 2013 | by Tawann Guice


Reebok: Second Rate Sneaker Or Formidable Nike Opponent?


Reebok International Limited, is the full name of the subsidiary of German company Adidas since 2005.The name comes from the Afrikaans spelling of rhebok, a type of African antelope or gazelle. In 1890 in Holcombe Brook, a village just a few miles north east of Bolton, in Greater Manchester, Joseph William Foster was making a living producing regular running shoes when he came up with the idea to create a novelty spiked running shoe. After his ideas progressed he joined with his sons, and founded a shoe company named J.W. Foster and Sons in 1895.

In 1958, two of the founder’s grandsons Joe and Jeff Foster renamed the company Reebok in the United Kingdom, having found the name in a dictionary won in a race by Joe Foster as a boy; the dictionary was South African edition hence the spelling. The company lived up to the J.W. Foster legacy, manufacturing first-class footwear for customers throughout the UK. In 1979, Paul Fireman, a US sporting goods distributor, saw a pair of Reeboks at an international trade show and negotiated to sell them in North America. The world headquarters is located in Canton, Massachusetts, USA


“…5411 Size 7 in girls…”! A famous hip hop line quoted from DMX. Can one suggest that Reebok is a well established company capable of delivering the best in athletic footwear to the masses? Hmm, not sure but this is what I’m here to try and shed some possible light on.

Reebok for as long as I can remember has been a company that has lived in the shadow of the great titan called Nike. In my younger school years fashion would seem to be just as important then as it is now; perhaps more so then. In my most fashion conscious days there were a few things that had to be on point when getting your self together for a day at the fashion show, (umm) School that is! Particularly in my late Junior High School years, what you wore made for a decisive “You the man” comment, while anything less than being the man meant you might as well be in the class located near the basement of the building. You know the class with the kids that were never quite capable of removing the morning crush from the corner of their mouths? Yeah, that class! Now if your outfit was tight, you needed a pair of nice kicks to go right along with it. You either spent most of Mom and Pop’s money on a pair of Nikes; which happened to be my first option, or you got a pair of Reeboks. It sometimes didn’t matter what type; just so long as they were one of the two aforementioned types. Now if you were a “Get Fly” female then the most likely choice for you were Reeboks. This fact would seem to be something that just got around about ladies and their obsession for Reeboks, particularly 5411s. I could not tell you if it was the available color options, or if it was because the leather gave in so much that a female with abnormally big feet could squeeze their dogs into a shoe about a size in a half smaller than their size.  So begins the Reebok craze!

Later; in the High School aka the Fashion show days; Reebok began to become a lot less simple and much more flamboyant in the designs of their footwear. Having to compete with Nike, and the Jordan line that had taken the world by storm, things had to become much more than what they were in the previous years.



Reebok declared war with the release of the very popular Reebok Pump line of sneakers and their first signature sneakers, the Shaq Attack and the Dee Brown Omni Zone. The technology built into the shoe would allow for the wearer to inflate pockets within the tongue (bridge), heal and or forefoot of the shoe. A circular one inch inflator button was located on the top of the tongue and would sometimes resemble a half basketball in shoes designed for basketball players and a Tennis ball for Tennis sneakers. Running shoes would feature the inflator on the outer most side of the shoe.


Rebook during later portion of the nineties would return to a more simplified shoe with the Allen Iverson ‘Question’ sneaker, and perhaps my favorite of any Reebok sneaker. This shoe would actually give Reebok some much needed propulsion in the run against their long time Nike rival, that seemed at this point to be running out of innovation, by beginning to retro past sneaker designs.

s__carter_collectionG-Unit Sneaker




reebok-kamikaze-ii-houston-1Reebok_Workout Classic

After the turn of the millennium, Reebok would do something that no other sneaker company thought of doing. This was to start Hip Hop artist signature shoe lines, namely the S. Carter and G-Unit sneakers, with the Kamikaze shoe by Swizz Beatz and the Blast by Rick Ross following later. Athletic companies have taken a great interest in music artist for the apparent publicity that goes along with these artist, but sometimes this becomes a gift and a curse. This was seen recently with Rick Ross and his less than appealing references to date raping a female (If that is in fact what he meant). This subsequently lead to the release of Rick Ross from his Reebok contract, with Ross being cited as an undesirable spokes person for the company due to his lyrics in the song, U.O.E.N.O. by Rocko Featuring Rick Ross.

History has since shown us that Reebok is as formidable of a competitor to any other sneaker company, as they are capable of being being the best of the best on the block in the athletic department. Rising above and out lasting negativity has been just another notch under the belt of the company as they have themselves been associated with scandals, such as their their supposed link to apartheid in South Africa, which may have in many cases been damaging to their success. However this was a long time ago, and little time is required for people to forget things that once made us all raise an eyebrow or two. Today, the company has contracts with the NFL, NBA, NCAA, and a host of other sports leagues, along with a plethora of well made footwear. Can Reebok hold their own, I am very much willing to say yes they can but not without noting that the competition and it’s strikingly large scale and well designed catalog. Reebok will have to be at the very pinnacle of R&D, as well as the tech that goes into future designs. I think they have what it takes, lets see now how they decide to execute.

Check out some Reebok commercials featuring some of the previous mention sneakers below:

Shaquille O’Neal: Shaq Attack

Dee Brown: Omni Zone

Allen Iverson: The Question

G-Unit and S. Carter

Swizz Beatz: Kamikaze

Rick Ross: Classic



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