Reinventing Reebok

By Nick Paulson Ellis

Here at The Sports Edit our raison d'être is to scour the globe to find brands that blend style, quality and performance. This takes us to some interesting places, discovering some amazing emerging brands. But sometimes we also like to take a new perspective on established brands. We realise that amidst the likes of Teeki, Michi and Koral, Reebok might seem like a surprising new addition to our assortment, so we thought we’d explain why we’re so excited to showcase the new direction the brand is taking.

[Pieces from the Reebok Edit at The Sports Edit]

In its heyday Reebok was America’s biggest selling and most pioneering trainer brand, with its iconic Pump and Princess trainers, and the original women’s high tops. But as it grew it focussed on more and more sports, vying with Nike across categories, lost out in the sneaker wars, and risked heading on a jog towards irrelevance.

Arguably the biggest change came when Reebok signed a 10-year deal with what was then a far less well-known CrossFit movement. CrossFit’s founder Greg Glassman felt that the gyms weren’t really doing what they were supposed to; making people fitter. Too many gyms were allowing their members to fall into a trance on the treadmill. Glassman pioneered a punishing exercise framework, centred on the ‘WOD’ (workout of the day), making fitness measurable, and finding motivation in groups. What started in a gritty Santa Cruz ‘box’ has grown to 13,000 boxes worldwide, and the largest sporting event of all time in terms of number of participants, with 273,000 people starting the Reebok CrossFit games.

Reebok hit the jackpot with CrossFit, but it also triggered a shift in its focus and culture. Reebok’s whole strategy is now focussed on fitness, and specifically group fitness. It stepped away from the other major brands trying to cover all of global sportswear, and away from conventional athlete endorsement. Instead building its brand and culture around the sport of training.

Its ‘Be More Human’ campaign focusses not on athletes, but on normal people in ordinary but challenging training contexts, celebrating rugged physicality, and asking “why do we do it?”. The idea is that training in itself matters. Not because you are training to become an elite athlete, but that you are training to become a better version of yourself. Not just making you fitter and stronger, but benefiting all aspects of life. As Reebok’s Matt O’Toole puts it “by pushing ourselves to the brink and testing our limitations, we have the power to transform ourselves not only physically but also mentally”. Reebok’s logo change to the Delta symbol is also centred around this idea of transformation; with three parts representing the physical, mental and social changes that occur when people push themselves to their limits and embrace an active and challenging life.

These are inclusive, motivational campaigns and beyond CrossFit, much of what Reebok is doing is around types of fitness that form a deeper connection. Away from treadmills and weight machines, towards more social, group activities.

This is both at the extreme end with CrossFit and Spartan Races, but also Pilates, dance and indeed yoga, where it has a long running collaboration with Strala Yoga founder Tara Stiles. These are all very different activities, but the unifying theme is ‘social fitness’, and the success of everything from Tough Mudder to ClassPass highlights that this is how more and more people are choosing to exercise.

Steadily Reebok is becoming more clearly associated with fitness and training, and we see the narrowing of focus really coming through in its product. It is doing fewer things better. It had a sticky patch, but it is now producing some great product, both functional and fashion-forward, and all geared towards the way in which in reality most of our customers are training.

[Pieces from the Reebok Edit at The Sports Edit]

It is also doing so at keen prices: there are plenty of compelling premium brands emerging in activewear around the world, but Reebok is delivering well-crafted, fashionable pieces at prices very few others can achieve.

We’re excited to have recently launched a capsule collection for AW16, with much more to come from SS17 onwards. We hope you love it as much as we do.

Shop the Reebok edit here.