In Praise Of Reebok Classics

Hey, remember when Reebok Classics were the shoe of choice for "burglars" and "tracksuit and baseball cap wearing chavs after goods to sell for their next hit of crack"? Well the Daily Mail does. And even though they aren't the most reliable source of measured social commentary, they still allude to a perhaps less rabid strand of public sentiment at the time, i.e. if you wore Reebok Classics you were a shifty fucker.

It's hard to imagine now. The explosion of grime has put artists wearing Nike and Adidas in the centre of Radio One pop culture. Streetwear emporiums like us here at Wavey Garms and Duke's Cupboard sell vintage Classics, Tommy Hilfiger polo shirts and Ralph Lauren puffas to white middle class art students (Shouts to Goldsmiths Uni for giving us business all year round). Brands like Supreme and Off White have become high end fashion – partnering with classic brands like Louis Vuitton. The hipster's been replaced with a new type of lad. Sportswear isn't just for 'lowlifes': rich kids can wear Kappa trousers without fear of reprisal or mockery from their peers or parents. And amidst it all – the subcultures and social statuses – is the revival of the most egalitarian shoe ever made, the Reebok Classic.

"This is the not the first time the Classic has been marketed in retro terms or in terms of how the trainers were worn in the past," says Alistair O' Neill, fashion historian at Central Saint Martins. "I think now trainer manufacturers are more ready to reboot former designs to fulfil the demands of the current market place, for example the Stan Smith."

The Classic began, like most street fashion, as a purely functional sportswear item. It's first incarnation was the Freestyle Lo, released in 1982 as Reebok rode the wave of the women's aerobic fitness movement to make a shoe that was fashionable yet gym ready. It's other variations, the Freestyle High, ExoFit, Classic Leather and Workout have been a staple part of street fashion ever since. But with Reebok being a British brand, it's also had a more prominent part in UK culture.

Reebok Classics Senior Brand Manager Nicholas Oram explains: "In the UK, Reebok was impacting the numerous subcultures and movements that were developing, markedly through 90's rave culture, jungle, hip-hop, pirate radio for example."

Over in America they were paving the way in the 80’s with Run DMC and their Adidas shell toes. And whilst in the UK we always repped the brands, we never really had a shoe that was as iconic as the shell toe until the Classic came along and gave a pilled up hug to the UK Garage and Acid House scenes. Without wishing to sound too jingoistic, the Classic was a proper British shoe worn by proper Brits getting properly off their nut to proper pioneering British dance music, and that's something to have a proper sense of national pride in, for once.

And it may have been the shoe of choice for ravers, but it's legacy has continued long after that. By the mid to late 90's, Classics – alongside Stone Island and Aquascutum – were the uniform of football hooligans up and down the country. But by the early 00s, as UK garage had broken into the mainstream, putting Dreem Teem, Shanks & Bigfoot and Artful Dodger into the charts, and Classics became more associated with dance music than the terraces. And as UKG paved the way for the grime scene, Reebok Classics went with it.

"I remember in the mid 90's around the area I grew up Reebok Classics where the trainer of choice by the older, cooler boys which you would most likely call 'chavs' now," says our guy Andres Branco, founder of Wavey Garms "They were also a hit down the workings man's club and pubs with the geezers who like a pint and a proper bashed £30's worth of charlie."

"The early 2000's saw the rise of Mike Skinner and The Streets who were essentially your archetypal Classics consumer at that time," adds Nicholas Oram "His music and lyrics embodied what the brand stood for and with the UK garage scene starting to have impact, the brand partnered with Mike for a number of ad campaigns."

Now, the Classics devotees are the a new wave of lads: a kind of post hipster devoted to vintage sportswear and appropriating working class 90’s terrace style, but with none of the subcultural brand barriers that defined the hooligans, emcees and ravers. It's Champion mixed with Supreme. Palace with Fila. Elessee sliders and Nike shotter bags. There's no subcultural brand identity – it's ironically self aware.

"I knew Reebok Classics would come back in when I started Wavey Garms," says Andres "Many middle class hipsters were trying to be more ironic than ever wearing Burberry shirts and Aquascutum scarves. They were bound for a comeback."

These days, when brands like Alexander Wang are collaborating with Adidas and models are seen wearing shell suits on the catwalk, it seems that we're going through another phase of fetishising of the working class aesthetic. It’s never been cooler to dress like the very people that the mainstream media were openly demonising only ten to 15 years ago.

"I definitely think the Classic has got a working class association, an association with the man in the in street," Alistair explains, "So it's a leveller, which you can't say about every style of trainer. Not every man is going to be wearing a Stan Smith for example."

But it may also be the case that this resurgence in street fashion, just like The Strokes with skinny jeans and Converse in the mid 00’s, is down to music. As grime goes mainstream, is it worth asking whether music subcultures and identities still influence what we wear?

"I don't think it's necessarily just the music,” Alistair adds, “I think it's the communities that are interested in the music styles and those kinds of clothing styles, and when you bring those things together a group identification is formed. That's what sticks, not just one element but a fusion of those things, that's what makes it distinctive."

It's pretty much certain the latest fetishisation of street fashion – or "athleisure" as fashion mags will call it – will be just another trend captured by marketing men that will probably dissolve in five years or so, when suddenly it’s not fashionable to do photoshoots in front of London estates anymore. And Reebok Classics will probably go back off radar for a while. But whatever happens, the Reebok Classic will always be a shoe that's binded a lot of this country together, and has in some sense been a unifier for a wide range of UK subcultures. But really, above all, they just look fucking great with pretty much any outfit you put on.

Written by: Tom Usher

Illustration by: Reuben Dangoor

192 comments

  • viagra ei toimi https://llviagra.com/ – lancement viagra como son las pastillas de viagra

    AnooagilI on

  • best canadian pharmacy http://xlnpharmacy.com/ buy generic viagra online

    LebnagilI on

  • canadian discount pharmacy http://pharmacylo.com/ international pharmacies that ship to the usa

    JebgagilI on

  • cheap cialis generic online http://rcialisgl.com/ cialis soft tabs, united states origin

    RebfRinnY on

  • what is the shelf life of viagra http://loxviagra.com/ – black market viagra viagra coupons

    BbshKara on

  • no prescription canadian cialis http://cialisee.com/ – price of cialis at walgreens buy cialis online in new zealand

    FmrfagilI on

  • canadian prescription drugs https://xlnpharmacy.com/ Voveran SR

    LebnagilI on

  • viagra levitra cialis which works better? http://ucialisdas.com/ cheep cialis

    LbsoRinnY on

  • lovely lilith viagra falls http://jokviagra.com/ generic viagra in usa

    GtnbZibly on

  • can family doctor prescribe viagra http://llviagra.com/ viagra en frances

    AnooagilI on

  • india to buy cialis http://rcialisgl.com/ generic cialis canada

    RebfRinnY on

  • Medex pharmacie Zerit

    JebgagilI on

  • cialis paypal canada http://cialisee.com/ cialis 20mg canada

    FmrfagilI on

  • viagra vs levitra http://loxviagra.com/ viagra online canada

    BbshKara on

  • chloroquinr https://chloroquineorigin.com/ choloroquine

    chloroquine online on

  • dapoxetine pills for sale generic priligy

    dapoxetine on

  • best price cialis 20mg https://ucialisdas.com/ how long does cialis last

    LbsoRinnY on

  • do herbal viagra work http://llviagra.com/ – viagra naturel en ligne kaufen viagra online

    AnooagilI on

  • sildenafil viagra https://jokviagra.com/ – generic viagra without prescription female viagra amazon

    GtnbZibly on

  • buying from canadian pharmacies https://xlnpharmacy.com/ med pharmacy

    LebnagilI on

  • avanafil buy avanafil

    avanafil on

  • cialis 20 mg canada https://rcialisgl.com/ – , cialis cialis 20mg mailorder abilene

    RebfRinnY on

  • online canadian discount pharmacy best canadian pharmacy Cilostazol

    JebgagilI on

  • cialis with out prescription https://cialisee.com/ cialis canadian purchase

    FmrfagilI on

  • ED Trial Pack http://canadianeve21.com/ Tetracycline

    AbdgagilI on

  • levitra expiration date http://uslevitraanna.com/ when will levitra be generic

    LrbsagilI on

  • generic cialis in usa http://asciled.com/ cheapest cialis on the web

    LhdvRinnY on

  • when to take viagra for best results http://gensitecil.com/ – when viagra doesnt work how to get viagra without a prescription

    BbdfKara on

  • canadian pharmacies online https://onlinecanda21.com/ Imdur

    JbsdagilI on

  • cialis 40 mg https://cileve.com/ cialis 10mg pills

    RfvbRinnY on

  • compare prescription prices https://uspharmus.com/ Depo-Medrol

    FbsfagilI on

  • erectile shots diagram https://plaquenilx.com/ erectile function magnesium vitamin k

    ra medication plaquenil on

  • cialis on line purches canadian pharmacy https://canadacialisstore.com/ buying canadian cialis

    cialis viagra combination canadian pharmacy on

  • canadian tadalafil http://boxtadafil.com/ – tadalafil pah tadalafil 40

    GvdbZibly on

  • cialis with no prescription http://asciled.com/ best cialis online

    LhdvRinnY on

  • levitra substitutes cialis levitra levitra 20 mg manufacturer coupon

    LrbsagilI on

  • Viagra Super Active http://canadianeve21.com/ Periactin

    AbdgagilI on

  • alprostadil injection instructions https://alprostadildrugs.com/ administration of topical alprostadil

    what is alprostadil used for on

  • cialis support 365 http://cileve.com/ most recommended online pharmacies cialis

    RfvbRinnY on

  • sildenafil 1000 mg https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ generic 100mg sildenafil

    purchase sildenafil citrate on

  • pfizer viagra canada pharmacy https://canadaviagrastore.com/ viagra in canada

    how to buy teva sob for viagra in canada on

  • ed meds online Asendin Cephalexin

    JbsdagilI on

  • Diltiazem http://uspharmus.com/ pharmacies near me

    FbsfagilI on

  • vardenafil vs tadalafil which is better? https://vegavardenafil.com/ vardenafil buy

    vardenafil 20mg india manufacturer on

  • tadalafil generic https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalafil max dose

    tadalafil pills 20mg on

  • erectile help massage https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ erectile rehabilitation therapy

    impotence on

  • canadian generic cialis safe https://canadacialisstore.com/ canadian pharmacy cialis without prescription

    canadian generic cialis 20mg on

  • zithromax otc https://zithromaxes.com/ generic name for z pack

    buy zithromax pfizer on

  • https://thesiswritingtob.com/ – thesiswritingtob.com choosing a thesis topic thesiswritingtob.com thesis software

    AbgcagilI on

  • https://thesiswritingtob.com/ – thesis online thesis thesis defense advice writing a thesis

    AbgcagilI on

  • tadalafil online https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalafil dosage

    tadalafil tablets on

  • https://ljcialishe.com/ – cheap cialis https://cialisvja.com/ – buy cialis online cheap https://viagraonlinejc.com/ – how much does viagra cost https://viagratx.com/ – how much does viagra cost at walmart? https://buycialisxz.com/ – is cialis safe

    BrfgKara on

  • https://thesiswritingtob.com/ – thesis for phd thesis publishing writing thesis paper help with thesis statements

    AbgcagilI on

  • https://kloviagrli.com/ – can you take viagra with high blood pressure https://vigedon.com/ – viagra gel https://llecialisjaw.com/ – buy cialis online safely https://jwcialislrt.com/ – cialis generic name https://jecialisbn.com/ – cialis effects

    GrvZibly on

  • http://essaywriteris.com/ – paid essay writers cheap custom essay best online essay writer easy essay writer

    LmoppagilI on

  • https://dissertationahelp.com/ – education dissertation topics dissertation methodology dissertation uk dissertation structure

    JvqqagilI on

  • https://thesiswritingtob.com/ – write a thesis business thesis topics nursing thesis help me write a thesis statement

    AbgcagilI on

  • http://vsdoxycyclinev.com/ – online pharmacy doxycycline 100mg

    Snobago on

  • what does generic viagra look like http://viagraonlinejc.com/ viagra canadian pharmacy ezzz

    FjjuRinnY on

  • buy cialis black http://buycialisxz.com/ cialis black

    NbmoRinnY on

  • viagra boys sports vardenafil vs viagra how long do the effects of viagra last

    KndnKara on

  • viagra 100mg tablets cheap generic viagra 50mg viagra usa

    Abcfapokekpom on

  • online doctor prescription cialis http://llecialisjaw.com/ cialis india

    FbsgRinnY on

  • payday advance without a check fast payday loans crawfordville fl h r emerald advance holiday loan

    FqbbagilI on

  • sildenafil over the counter usa sildenafil over the counter buy viagra toronto

    NbnhRinnY on

  • viagra 50mg. http://kloviagrli.com/ google news cheap viagra

    Kbbfmaism on

  • better than cialis viagra cialis de bonne qualite cialis ins ausland mitnehmen

    LabxagilI on

  • cash advance based on tax return cash advance for active duty military 1 day cash loan

    KvaxKara on

  • viagra cialis bez recepty cialis endotelio prix pharmacie cialis 20mg

    JbbnagilI on

  • online payday loans for prepaid debit cards cash credit card advance cfpb payday loan rules

    JbnvZibly on

  • cash loans kitchener ontario quick cash advance unemployed payday advance la habra

    AhbzagilI on

  • viagra 365 non prescription online pharmacy reviews aarp approved canadian online pharmacies

    FvfcRinnY on

  • cialis 80 cuanto dura cialis cialis nz online

    Aqcfapokekpom on

  • diabetes canadian drugs online pharmacy pharmacy northwest canada

    FqhhagilI on

  • viagra australia viagra suppliers online 50mg generic viagra

    Kuikmaism on

  • generic viagra trial pack cialis viagra levitro viagra 30 day free trial

    NncsRinnY on

  • online discount pharmacy viagra usa canadian online pharmacies legitimate

    LbsxagilI on

  • best canadian mail order pharmacies canadian prescription drugstore п»їed meds online without doctor prescription

    KbcxKara on

  • apollo pharmacy online canadian pharmaceuticals online safe costco online pharmacy

    JbbvagilI on

  • walgreens pharmacy online discount pharmacy canada pharmacy online reviews

    JbnbZibly on

  • erectile dysfunction online pharmacies in usa web medical information

    AhkdagilI on

  • viagra, australia viagra no prescription viagra online .au http://llviabest.com/ – usa over the counter purchase of viagra ’

    JdbxagilI on

  • discount viagra online with cheap shipping comprare viagra con paypal viagrarx http://genqpviag.com/ – viagra without percription ’

    LbgagilI on

  • wzSnOCBbd

    PHNhqFuGS on

  • orSTvCcmzAjB

    cHqLZtmWFbNGfoPY on

  • NKibGyPmLqJIgUd

    thRLGuBKeA on

  • zGmIkrucHOSnWwNY

    EAjtOfqaxK on

  • I LOVE THAT CLASSICS 😍

    Brandy on

  • Asimjofa As all of us recognize that the leather bags are constantly the fashion international’s favorites. compared to bags fabricated from other raw substances, the leather luggage are more sophisticate and wearable. every detail in a leather bag may be designed, https://rcg.com.pk/asimjofa

    naroa jon on

  • Check out www.facebook.com/reebokshoearchive to see all the Reebok vintage and classic shoes from the 80’s and 90’s

    TheReebokKid on

  • Cool article even if you was not around in the era of the classic you can feel the sentiment of the times it arrived an how it evolved
    Clever , I’m going to listen to the streets now an find those classics

    SAhra on

  • I like your article, as one of the designers of the classic range (I worked on them from ‘83 -’89). Reebok never went out to capture that market. trainer culture in the UK was the adidas samba and city series. The Classic leather was an attempt by the running category manager to boost his sales as they were flagging compared to the new Aerobic segment. So Classic used the same materials as the aerobic footwear on a running base, the shoe was aimed at the west coast of the USA and became very much Yuppie footwear. it took until around ’87 for JD to catch onto the classic leather, at which point the special makeup team that developed these shoes started to go to town on the shoe and pushed it more mainstream streetwear.

    best wishes
    David

    David Foster on

Leave a comment