Like Paddy McGuinness and Peter Kay before it, Reebok was born in the fashion capital of Bolton. Sports shoes were the brand’s bread and butter, and they distributed them to British athletes in the 1924 Paris Olympics in the hope of making a name for themselves with the hotshots of the industry. But the real breakthrough came in 1982, when Reebok debuted The Freestyle – the first aerobics shoe designed especially for women – and in the process became one of the key footwear brands of the 80s, as evocative of the decade as the sweatbands, lycra and neon leggings shorts they were often worn with.
A pared-down version of the Freestyle, the Classic has become the brand’s go-to silhouette over the subsequent years. In all black or all white, it’s been a byword for laddy casual steez, equally at home on crumbling concrete football terraces and sticky pub carpets. Yet despite these prosaic roots, this British basic has also become coveted by a more cosmopolitan crowd, with the creation of new ranges and adoption by high-profile celebrities.
One collection last year was inspired by Keith Haring’s
Matrix, a 30-foot-long, ink-on-paper drawing created in 1983; meanwhile, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Travis Scott and Kid Ink are noted advocates of the kick’s, um, classic styling. All of which, it’s fair to say, suggests the Reebok Classic has come a long way from its Bolton roots.