While more or less every brand with any widespread involvement in skateboarding has their diehards and their haters, one outsider has seen little, if any resistance from the skate community at large: Reebok.
Perhaps due in part to Reebok never having aimed at carving their portion out of the middle within the skate industry, instead preferring to sit on the bench and sub in when asked, it certainly makes sense from the respect side. There are multiple angles from which to approach the game, and Reebok’s done it right in never overstaying their welcome and leaving everything just as they found it.
Some of it was blind luck. Their brief relationship with Stevie Williams yielded one model – a slightly modified Workout Lo that was fairly well-received – and a lot of headaches. Having seemed to learn from all that came with that experience, Reebok kept their nose clean, working with a shop every few years and allowing these collaborators to determine their demand. This method poses little to no threat to any established skate industry entities, and the novelty factor is geared more toward fun occasions to be had and additions to collections than message board fodder; anyone would look pretty silly talking shit because of one limited run.
And Reebok is different.
If going to a spot or park and seeing someone else rocking the same gear is on your list of scenarios to avoid, Reebok is definitely an option to separate yourself. Most skateable models require a bit of extra work to find, but even if you have ease of access, chances are you’ll be the only one rocking them. If it feels like you’re seeing the same prevalent several shoes in every video part, clip or photo, there are worse directions to go than Reebok in assisting the development of your own aesthetic. Let’s be real – if you’re reading this, you probably put some consideration into your kit, and these shoes wouldn’t exist if no one cared.
And they’re cheap.
In comparison to today’s average skate shoe price of around $70-75, finding some skateable Reeboks on the cheap will run you closer to $50 or $60 (as opposed to these limited collab runs, which will lighten your wallet significantly more). If they’re leather, they’ll be real leather, and while they may wear more quickly, chances are you’ll get some really good use out of them while they last. Once broken in, some Club Cs or Workouts skate surprisingly well and provide notably more support than your average skate shoe.
And they’re familiar.
The Club C and the Workout Lo in particular have been pulled from numerous times within the skate shoe design universe, and it makes obvious sense – it’s uncanny how perfectly they match up with the direction skate shoes have gone and come back to through multiple cycles. While the most obvious homage would probably go to the Duffs KCK or Axion KCK 3, a good portion of the early etnies, Lakai, Osiris and DC catalog was heavily influenced by what are now referred to as Reebok Classics.
There’s something very comforting about those two models, like they’ve always been around and always will be. Even if they come and go as far as availability, they’ll always be back, much in the same vein as the CTAS, Sk8-Hi or Dunk. Tangible reliability isn’t as commonplace as it once was in skateboarding, and it’s good to know certain Reebok models never go out of style – even if they aren’t made to skate.
And they collab with respectable entities.
Reebok’s most recent collaboration within skateboarding came via New Orleans’ Humidity shop and Sneaker Politics last month, and prior to that were a couple Palace collabs over the last several years… and that’s it since their brief affair with Stevie/DGK in 2005. Whether the goal is quality over quantity, under-saturation, respect of the game or some strange fashion cycle wizardry, their minimal output as far as directly-skate-related endeavors go somehow makes them more appealing. Sure, they tend to keep it more on the hypebeast end, but a Reebok X Blood Wizard collab just doesn’t seem like an appropriate route to take- although we’d love to see what that looks like.
To gain some extra insight, we called up some of our Reebok-leaning friends and asked them “Why Reebok and not whatever else?”. Their responses ultimately came down to what one particular diehard Reebok fan summed up for us in the most “fair enough” answer:
“They’re not stitched up for skating, but it’s better to skate in a shoe you like that wears out really fast than a shoe you can’t stand skating in that lasts a long time and is “cool” or whatever.”
Considering the demand with these limited runs, how well certain not-made-to-skate Reebok models do skate and, let’s be honest, the prevalence of a few fairly standardized popular skate models of recent memory, it’s not surprising they’ve become and stayed the favorite go-to non-skate brand.