Reebok Goes Retro


words and photos by Nima Zarrabi / @NZbeFree

With a robust retro sneaker market in play, Reebok Classics will continue to dip into the company’s rich archive for fresh re-releases in 2014.

“The idea on the retro side is putting as much product as we can in the marketplace but not too much so we can balance the supply and demand,” says Todd Krinsky, VP of Reebok Classics, Entertainment & Basketball. “And bring some of our retro story on court through new players.”

At the recent Project Trade Show in Las Vegas, Krinsky gave SLAM a look at several upcoming lines of footwear and a brief on some of the stories the brand will share through footwear in ’14. With dope posters of Sonics legend Shawn Kemp and former Chicago White Sox great Frank Thomas looming, Krinsky went to work and began with basketball, of course.

Reebok will open the year with the re-release of the original Kamikaze, the shoe donned by Kemp in 1994. “The OG Sonics colorway which will be one of our big stories for the first part of the year,” Krinsky says. The sneaker will release in the original four colorways and a fresh ’95 Phoenix All-Star Game desert edition.

The Shaqnosis will see fresh colorways, including a Celtics clover joint and there will be an LSU-themed Shaq Attaq coming. The brand will also develop stories around some of their lesser known endorsers of the ’90s, specifically the Big Dog, Glenn Robinson. Reebok will re-release his old sneak, the Rail, in several colorways and has plans to have him involved.

In the first room of sneakers that Krinsky toured us through, there was a nice framed photo of Muggsy Bogues above the sneaker racks and Reebok also plans to release the shoe Bogues wore—the Swingman. “We had 35-40 players wearing this shoe,” Krinsky explains. “We had a lot of team colors in that shoe.”

In quarter two, Reebok will move into Blacktop. “In the mid-’90s when everybody was doing indoor basketball stories, we had this idea around Sinbad and playing outdoor basketball,” Krinsky says. “The product was kind of chunky and big and ’90s with the banding on the bottom with the Hexalite. The upper takes on this ’90s feel that is trending right now. This will be a big push for us in the second part of the year—we will have players wearing it on court. It will be our basketball initiative around the world to promote Blacktop. We will have a pump version as well.”

In addition, Reebok took some of their OG product and had their design team cobble new morphed versions that are lighter and more funtionable with new tech. One of those shoes is the Q96, based on the Question. Reebok plans to sign some young guards this season to wear the shoe on court. Another shoe created via the same concept is the Pump Revenge, based on the Shaq Attaqs and modernized with a new look and the addition of pump technology.

The brand has continued its strong collaborations, highlighted by a partnership with Ian Paley and his UK-based menswear brand, Garbstore. “He had never done a collaboration with a footwear brand before,” Krinsky explains. “He is a super creative guy and one of the things he looked at when he started to look at Reebok, was he noticed we build a lot of the inside of the shoe.”

Paley created the Reebok “Outside In” collection by essentially taking the guts of the inside of the shoe and artfully re-creating it on the upper. His initial creation went over extremely well and the brand had him create similar concepts on other models. “We are real excited about how it came out,” Krinsky says. The Reebok x Garbstore collection will be limited to handpicked boutiques around the World.

On the women’s side, designer Melody Ehsani has crafted a lovely edition of Reebok Pump’s that is sure to send Hypebeasts into frenzy. Featuring a multi-colored upper and her signature studs and “love” script, Krinsky believes guys out there in smaller sizes will cop. “For the first time I think out best Pump offering is on the women’s side, so that’s pretty dope,” he says.

Krinsky finished the tour by highlighting a collaboration with graffiti artist Stash, who went to serious work on several Reebok Pump models.

Reebok’s partnership with hip-hop is growing. During the tradeshow, Reebok Classics hosted an ill concert at the Rain Nightclub inside the Palms hotel, featuring Travi$ Scott, French Montana, Tyga, Rick Ross and Chris Brown. It was an incredible show, with many of the artists showing much love to Reebok on the mic, especially Ross. At one point during the show, Reebok Creative Director Swizz Beatz exclaimed, “Ross is Reebok family for life, fuck what ya heard!”

Scott, a young artist and producer, plans to do some work on the Reebok Classics side. “Hopefully the opportunity comes across that will allow me to do my own shoe,” he says.

Before his performance, Scott told me that Kanye West inspired him to create his first beat. “It was on a program called Reason,” he says. “Hell yeah, it was tight. But right now, that beat sucks.”

With his career on a nice rise, Scott says his dream music collaboration would be with M.I.A. “It’s always in my imagination,” he says.

With Swizz and Krinsky at the helm on the creative side, the resurgence of Reebok Classics and Reebok Basketball has been nice to see. The brand hopes to carry the momentum into 2014 through its retro releases and collaborations.

“We also have the 20th anniversary of the Fury coming in ’14,” Krinsky says with a smile. “We’re going to do something special.”