- Reebok is going all-in on streetwear and hype.
- This week, the brand appointed Kerby Jean-Raymond, the designer behind the luxury streetwear brand Pyer Moss, as vice president of creative direction.
- According to Reebok’s founder Joe Foster, focusing on the “street” is a smart way to help the brand achieve notoriety.
- “Any brand that wants volume has got to impress the street,” said Foster. “That’s where it’s won. And we see this now from Pyer Moss.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Reebok’s market strategy has increasingly focused on streetwear in the last couple of years, as evidenced by a series of collaborations with brands like Vetements, Billionaire Boys Club, and Kerby Jean-Raymond’s Pyer Moss.
But the sneaker and apparel maker is no stranger to this sector.
In his new book, “Shoemaker,” Reebok founder Joe Foster described the story of how the brand accidentally forayed into the fledgling streetwear market in 1982. It happened with the launch of the Freestyle shoe, an aerobics sneaker that became wildly popular in New York. The sneaker, which retailed at $54.11, was dubbed the 5411 by hip-hop influencers in The Big Apple.
This, wrote Foster, was crucial to the success of the silhouette. It’s also something that is increasingly important for Reebok today, given the massive rise of the streetwear and sneaker industries.
A shift toward streetwear and hype
Reebok has undergone a series of identity shifts since it’s founding in 1958. The UK-based footwear brand started in the running category, eventually enjoying great success in the aerobics sector, and even went on to make an iconic basketball shoe in the early 90s. After Adidas acquired Reebok in 2005 for $3.8 billion, the two brands continued to operate independently.
According to Foster, while change is bound to happen, elements from the old days of Reebok culture still exist today.
“Things have to change,” Foster told Business Insider in a recent interview. “The only thing that has not changed in my life is performance,” he added, referring to the level of show quiality and how it functions.
Today, Reebok’s identity is again largely tied to streetwear sector. The brand appointed Kerby Jean-Raymond, the designer behind the luxury streetwear brand Pyer Moss, as vice president of creative direction this week. The designer, who is known for incorporating complicated subjects like racism and mental health into his work, initially partnered with the brand in 2017 for a series of streetwear collections.
“I welcome this opportunity to help invigorate the brand with new ideas, while also focusing on instilling a sense of social purpose into our work,” Jean-Raymond said in a statement to WWD.
This move also represents the brand’s commitment to increasing diversity efforts and fighting racism. Jean-Raymond will lead Reebok’s Product With Purpose program, which is associated with the brand’s commitment to United Against Racism.
“I think Reebok, has been very concerned about Black [consumers],” Foster said. “I think they’re very interested and they’ve been progressing that way, that Black lives do matter.”
In addition to resonating with the Black consumer, Foster sees Reebok’s method of focusing on the “street” as a smart way to help the brand achieve notoriety.
“The one thing that we see, and it’s happened for years and years, is if you put [shoes] on the feet of athletes, it’s a big influence,” said Foster. For many major brands today like Nike and Adidas, this method is tried and true. But according to Foster, Reebok’s strategy slightly different.
“They’re now using the ‘cool’ look to get onto the street rather than the performance that Adidas and Nike are doing,” Foster said about Reebok. “Any brand that wants volume has got to impress the street. That’s where it’s won. And we see this now from Pyer Moss.”
The people driving a brand’s hype are increasingly the “cool people on the street,” Foster added. As such, Reebok has also invested in partnerships with celebrities like Arianna Grade, Gigi Hadid, and Gal Gadot.
“It’s very new, I know a little about it,” Foster said about the world of hype. “But I think it’s exciting to think that this is a trend that Reebok would probably find again will grow the volumes.”