Remembering Reebok’s Attempt To Conquer Skateboarding With The DGK Workout Lo

It is interesting to look back at why this was a huge deal. It probably won’t get any attention anymore for the same reasons it received then. There were many issues that came with any combination “Stevie Williams”, DGK or “shoes” during those days. DGK was relatively recent and is currently undergoing a wave of pseudo-controversy for having attractive graphics and ads in an otherwise very safe and secure industry. The purchase intent was never discussed, so there was little else to discuss for 3 days, then nothing for over a month. Reebok placed some reservations in this area, even though it was a clear indication that Nike was making a concerted push to legitimize SB. For a moment, I will put a pin in it.

If I recall correctly, 2005 was the year when there was very little concern about outside companies having a significant role in skateboarding. There were a few Nike models in skateboarding, alongside 88 Footwear’s Fallen, Lakai or DVS, Vans and Osiris, Sole Tech companies, Sole Tech companies, Osiris and Osiris. Most people were content that their shoe sponsors paid them. It was not a major industry shift that anyone was worried about. Although there was some controversy about Nike’s credibility, it was not enough to worry about the possibility of another company making similar moves. At that point, the controversy about outside companies really got started. Sides began to get picked. Remove pin

Despite arguments from both sides of “another external company?” at the time there was no denying that The DGK (technically The Workout LO DGK, but we’ll just call it the “DGK”) was the best shoe we had ever seen in recent decades. This was before there was the vulc blast. There was no consensus on what to think about the DGK’s. I can recall many people getting angry that the shoe was being re-worked so well. It was the only shop in the whole metro area that offered to order it. Skaboarders from all walks of life came in droves to see it firsthand.

I am not one to mince words without experience and a good case, so I decided to buy a pair black suede/gum. I thought they would be a joke, despite the fact that they were heavily modified versions of the shoe. Skateable is what it is.

The DGK Workout L made some minor adjustments to ensure that the shoe was balanced in all aspects. It was not heavy, but it was not too low-profile. This gave it an Emerica Chris Senn-like feel. Although the black/gum toecap could be criticized for being a little too narrow, It was thick enough to protect your feet, yet thin enough to feel your board (think Lakai Staple vulc reissue). The toe area was flexible enough to allow for a comfortable fit. Everything about the upper, including the stitched lace straps and toecap, was beautiful. It was simple but complex, so clean and skewed like a dream. Props are equally due the perfect organization of elements from damn near all demographic appeal into one shoe – a skate debut from an external brand, no less.

I was able to get a pair at a local elementary school and skated some benches with them. I had never used a Reebok sole to grip before, so I was unsure how they would move out of the box. Out-of-towners arrived at the same time, and they begged to spend 20 minutes in mine, literally. It was the first time since I could take off my shoes. Four people gave them a try. What are the chances they all wore a size 9.5? They were all so amazed that I skated while they ran to the shop to get their pair. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shoe with a limited edition sell out so quickly.

Stevie and the crew displayed the DGK on The Kayo Corp.’s “It’s Official”, leaving it as the strongest video evidence that the shoe was ever a skateboard shoe. It was pretty clear which colorway was best.

If you are really interested in the history of that program, you will be able to find out. I have a few memories of Stevie interviewing me over the years. It shed light on his Reebok days. This one will be up to you. Reebok’s outside company feelings aside, the Reebok DGK shoes are still my favourite skateable purchase and, visually, a one-of-a kind. You can still buy them online randomly from equally random reissues of the past 10 years.

Major props to those who came up with this illustrious, but tragically flawed juxtaposition.

Reebok is believed to have approached Stevie Williams in order to help them launch a long-running skate program. It’s difficult to not wonder what would have happened if the program was continued, regardless the reason for its cancellation. How would this have affected skateboarding as a whole? Reebok could be as deeply embedded in the skateboarding community as Adidas Skateboarding, Nike SB, or both. Could they have been responsible for creating a more stable shoe than the Janoski Who would they have brought to their team? Would they have created a skate version for other models?

Given all the talk about some high-end skaters moving on to more lucrative corporate jobs, it is appropriate that we also discuss the history of power moves. This was one moment that skateboarding made it so much more enjoyable.