Reebok International Limited (//) is an American footwear and clothing company founded in Bolton (Greater Manchester), and headquartered in Boston (Massachusetts). Since 2005, the company has been a subsidiary of German sporting goods giant Adidas. Reebok produces and distributes fitness, running and CrossFit sportswear including clothing and footwear. It is the official footwear and apparel sponsor for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), CrossFit, and Spartan Race.
Reebok store at South Edmonton Common, pictured in May 2020
|Fate||Acquired by Adidas in 2005|
|Predecessor||J.W. Foster and Sons|
|Founded||1895[note 1] in Bolton, Lancashire, England|
|Founder||Joe and Jeff Foster|
|Matthew O'Toole (CEO)|
In 1958, Reebok was established as a companion company to J.W. Foster and Sons, founded in 1895 in Bolton, Lancashire, United Kingdom. From 1958 until 1986, Reebok clothing featured the Union Flag to signify the company's British origins.
In November 2016, Reebok announced it would be moving its headquarters from the Boston suburb of Canton to the innovation and design building in the seaport district of South Boston. The reasons for the move, according to the company, were to be located in an urban environment that is more desirable to millennial workers and to “clarify the roles” of United States offices. The move was completed in fall of 2018.
In 1895, Joseph William Foster at the age of 14 started work in his bedroom above his father's sweetshop in Bolton, England, and designed some of the earliest spiked running shoes. After his ideas progressed, he founded his business 'J.W. Foster' in 1900, later he joined with his sons and changed the company name to J.W. Foster and Sons. Foster opened a small factory called Olympic Works, and gradually became famous among athletes for his "running pumps". For pioneering the use of spikes, the company's revolutionary running pumps appear in the book, Golden Kicks: The Shoes that changed Sport. The company began distributing shoes across the Union Jack flag which were worn by British athletes. They were made famous by 100m Olympic champion Harold Abrahams (who would be immortalised in the Oscar winning film Chariots of Fire) in the 1924 Summer Olympics held in Paris.
In 1958, in Bolton, two of the founder's grandsons, Joe and Jeff Foster, formed a companion company "Reebok," having found the name in a South African dictionary won in a running race by Joe Foster as a boy. The name is Afrikaans for the grey rhebok, a type of African antelope.
In 1979, at the Chicago International Sneaker Trade show an American businessman, Paul Fireman, took notice of Reebok. Fireman was working for team sports and negotiated a deal to license and distribute the Reebok brand in the United States. The division was called Reebok USA Ltd. Later that year, Fireman introduced three new shoes to the market at $60. By 1981, Reebok reached more than $1.5 million in sales.
The company began expanding from tennis and aerobics shoes to running and basketball throughout the mid to late 1980s, the largest segments of the athletic footwear industry at the time. Fireman bought the English-based parent company in 1984. In addition to its IPO, the brand will conquer tennis with the Newport Classic, popularized by Boris Becker and John Mc Enroe, and the Revenge Plus, better known today under its name Reebok Club C.
In 1986, Reebok switched its logo from the Union Jack flag it had since its founding, to the Vector logo - an abstract Union Jack streak across a race track - which mirrored the design of the side flashes of its shoes The switch signaled the transition of the company into a performance brand as it began licensing deals with professional athletes in the NBA and NFL.
During the 1980s, Reebok began introducing sports clothing and accessories (alongside entering the college/pro sports arena), along with a new line of children's athletic shoes (called 'Weeboks'). By mid-decade, Reebok's sales were about $1 billion. One of the company's most iconic technologies, the Reebok Pump, debuted in 1989 with more than 100 professional athletes wearing the footwear by 1992, including Shaquille O'Neal.
Reebok worked with fitness professional Gin Miller in the late 1980s to develop Step Reebok, based on Miller's wooden prototype step and her ideas for step aerobics. The Step was evaluated in physiology trials undertaken by Drs. Lorna and Peter Francis at San Diego State University. In August 1989 the Step was ready, made in molded plastic by Sports Step of Atlanta with Reebok's name on it, and by March 1990, the step aerobics classes were attracting media attention. Miller promoted Step Reebok in person, touring the U.S. and demonstrating it at exercise studios. Step aerobics became widely popular, helping the company sell many thousands of adjustable-height step devices, and millions of high-top shoes with ankle support. Step aerobics peaked in 1995 with 11.4 million people exercising in that style.
Reebok named Carl Yankowski president and chief executive officer of the brand in 1998, replacing former president Robert Meers. Yankowski stepped down one year later to accept an executive position at another company. Reebok chairman and CEO Paul Fireman took over as president for the first time in 12 years.
Reebok signed Venus Williams after she won singles titles at Wimbledon and the 2000 Summer Olympics. In December 2000, Reebok signed a 10-year licensing agreement with the NFL for the exclusive rights to manufacture and sell NFL licensed merchandise, including uniforms and footwear, for all 32 teams.
In 2001, Reebok became the exclusive apparel outfitter for the 29 teams in the NBA, and 16 WNBA teams for ten years beginning in the 2004–2005 season. The deal also added the Reebok vector logo to the 2004 U.S. Olympic basketball team's uniforms. Later in 2001, Jay Margolis was named as Reebok's president and COO. After launching retail flagship stores in China, Dhaka, London, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Tokyo, Margolis resigned in October 2004. Fireman took over as president after signing a new long-term employment agreement with the Reebok board of directors.
Reebok acquired official National Hockey League sponsor CCM in 2004. The company began manufacturing ice hockey equipment under the CCM and Reebok brands. Reebok phased out the CCM name on NHL authentic and replica jerseys, using the Reebok logo since 2005. CCM became Reebok-CCM Hockey in 2007. Reebok moved most of its hockey equipment lines to CCM after 2015.
In August 2005, Adidas acquired Reebok as a subsidiary, uniting two of the largest sport outfitting companies, but maintaining operations under their separate brand names. Adidas acquired all of the outstanding Reebok shares and completed the deal valued at $3.8 billion. Following the acquisition, Adidas replaced Reebok as the official uniform supplier for the NBA in 2006 with an 11-year deal that includes the WNBA and replica jerseys and warm-up gear.
Reebok named Paul Harrington president and CEO of the company in January 2006, replacing Paul Fireman who was acting president since 2004. Harrington joined the company in 1994 and was Reebok's senior vice president of global operations and chief supply chain officer.
In 2010, Reebok announced a partnership with CrossFit, a fitness company and competitive fitness sport, including sponsoring the CrossFit Games, opening CrossFit studios, and introducing a line of co-branded footwear and apparel for Fall 2011. In 2011, Reebok debuted the CrossFit delta symbol on the brand's fitness apparel line. Around that time, Reebok, as it slowly began to lose its contracts to make sports uniforms and apparel to professional sports leagues and college teams (its last uniform rights contract, with the NHL, ended in 2017) began repositioning itself as a largely fitness-oriented brand, just as it had been during the 1980s and early 1990s.
In 2013, Reebok announced another fitness partnership with Les Mills, a group fitness and team training program in eighty countries in more than 20,000 studios. The agreement included Reebok footwear and clothing integration into Les Mills' fitness programs and media marketing. By July 2013, the red delta sign began showing up on all of Reebok's fitness collections. The brand announced it was phasing out the vector logo and replacing it with the delta sign, making it the company's second logo change in more than 120 years. The delta symbol represents the three pillars of positive self-change including mental, physical and social, as Reebok increases its presence in the fitness industry with yoga, dance, aerobics and CrossFit.
Following a successful re-release of many of its iconic sneaker and apparel lines from the early/mid 1990s, in November 2019, Reebok announced that it was updating the 1992 Vector logo along with the original "Reebok" script in Motter Tektura typeface and restoring both as the company's core brand identity, citing the reason that consumers still identified with them rather than the 2013 "Delta" logo. although the Delta would continue to be used on certain fitness equipment and apparel lines.
Reebok's parent company, Adidas, is headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany, while the Reebok world headquarters remains located in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Reebok EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) has its regional office in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The company also has additional regional offices located in Panama City (Reebok Latin America), Shanghai (Reebok Shanghai International Commerce Centre), Singapore, Taikoo Shing, and Toronto. Reebok first entered the South Korean market in 1987 and has since been making substantial revenue in South Korea. It is shown that it is the third most popular sports brand in South Korea. Through the merger and acquisition of Adidas International, Reebok is no longer listed as a corporation in South Korea.
Reebok designs, manufactures, distributes and sells fitness, running and CrossFit sportswear including clothing and footwear. The clothing line includes t-shirts, hoodies and pants among other items. The brand has also collaborated with other companies to produce fitness equipment and workouts.
The company has released numerous notable styles of footwear including the 1982 introduction of the Reebok Freestyle that was manufactured and marketed for women. In 1984, the shoe accounted for more than half of the Reebok sales. Following the aerobics trend from the 1980s to early 1990s, Reebok also released workout programs called Reebok Step beginning in 1989. The brand also introduced one of their most signature shoes, The Reebok Pump. The footwear collection was released as a men's basketball shoe and the world's first fully adjustable fit controlled with manual air allocation.
The Reebok Ventilator, a line of lightweight athletic shoes with vented side panels, was first introduced in 1990. In 1996, Reebok signed a $50 million endorsement deal with Allen Iverson when he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers. Iverson collaborated with Reebok during his contract to create the second-longest running basketball shoe line in history, beginning with the Question shoe in 1996 and ending with Answer XIV.
In 2010, the brand released Reebok Zig, an athletic footwear technology and collection of shoes include zigzag foam soles designed to push athletes forward. The Reebok Nano was released in 2011 and is the first official CrossFit shoe. The company has also partnered up with Les Mills and CrossFit to produce more fitness apparel, footwear, and workouts. Reebok released the Z-Series foam, a combination of dense midsole and outsole so the foam is cushioned but not worn-down. The foam debuted on the ZQuick TR with Reebok's new delta logo in 2014.
Reebok Future innovation house has developed a new technology they call Liquid Factory. A robot will extrude liquid polyurethane and "draw" shoe components without the use of traditional shoe molds.
In 2017, the UFC announced the launch of a new collection under the name Fight Night Collection that includes an upgraded version of the Reebok-branded apparels.
Reebok sponsored kits for a top seeded Indian Football club, Mohun Bagan A.C., in the year 2006–2011. Later it sponsored kits for Indian Premier League teams, such as the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings in the first edition of the league held in 2008. However, for the second edition held in 2009, the sponsorships included Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings, Kings XI Punjab kits.
In May 2012, Reebok India filed a criminal complaint against former top employees, Subhinder Singh Prem and Vishnu Bhagat, accusing them of a financial fraud of up to US$233 million. On the charge of alleged Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) violations, Reebok India was booked and may face penal action. Twelve further arrests of employees and associates were made during the same period. As of July 2013, Prem and Bhagat were granted bail by the high court but remained imprisoned following their detainment in September 2012.
One of Reebok's most prominent athletes, Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, was named by Forbes as the world's thirty first highest-paid sportsperson in June 2012. At the time of the article, Dhoni endorsed more than 20 other brands in deals that were cumulatively valued at US$23 million.
The company maintained its relationship with its origins in the UK through a long-term sponsorship deal with Bolton Wanderers, a Championship football club, however, in 2009, Bolton changed their sponsorship to 188bet. When the team moved to a brand new ground in the late-1990s, their new home was named the Reebok Stadium.
Several other English clubs, such as Liverpool F.C., had Reebok sponsorship deals up until the purchase by Adidas, but most have since switched to either the parent brand (which has a long history in football) or another company altogether. In April 2014, Bolton Wanderers officially announced the Reebok Stadium would be officially rebranded in a new sponsorship deal with sportswear manufacturer Macron, who will manufacture the club's kits and sponsor the stadium under the name Macron Stadium in a four-year deal announced by the club's chairman, Phil Gartside. In Germany, Reebok sponsored football club 1. FC Köln.
In rugby union, Reebok sponsored the Wales national team until late 2008, who won the Grand Slam in the Six Nations Championship in that year, and the Tasman Makos in New Zealand's domestic competition, the Air New Zealand Cup.
In 2006, Arsenal and France national team striker Thierry Henry signed a deal to join the "I Am What I Am" campaign on August 1, 2006. Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs has also done "I Am What I Am" commercials. Andriy Shevchenko started his endorsement deal with the company in 2006.
In February 2019, the Russian subsidiary faced a scandal. While adapting the brand's "Never apologize for being strong" ad campaign, Reebok posted pictures on its social media accounts which encouraged women to try facesitting, saying ("To sit on a man's face instead of sitting on a needle of man's approval"). The public had a negative reaction to this and Russian Marketing Director Alexander Golofast along with several other employees were fired. The headquarters also had to issue an apology.
From 2002 to 2012, the company held the exclusive rights to manufacture and market both authentic and replica uniform jerseys, sideline clothing and caps, and onfield football footwear (marketed as NFL Equipment) of the teams of the National Football League (NFL). The company hired filmmaker Errol Morris to produce a series of 30-second commercials that aired during the 2006 NFL season.
Reebok signed a four-year deal to become the official shoe supplier to Major League Baseball (MLB) in 2004; Reebok also was given the rights to be the official uniform and apparel provider of the Canadian Football League (CFL) that same year; this alliance lasted until 2015.
Rapper Jay-Z became the first non-athlete to get a signature shoe from Reebok. The "S. Carter Collection by Rbk" was launched on November 21, 2003, and the S. Carter sneaker became the fastest-selling shoe in the company's history. Later, Reebok made a deal with rapper 50 Cent to release a line of G-Unit sneakers, and artists such as Nelly and Miri Ben-Ari have become spokespersons for the company. Reebok also signed Scarlett Johansson and introduced her own line of clothing and footwear called Scarlett Hearts, part of the Rbk Lifestyle Collection. Pop singer Ariana Grande signed to Reebok in 2017. In the 2016 Gigi Hadid joined the company. Reebok also produce shoes for Emporio Armani under the label EA7.
In 2005, Reebok also signed an exclusive agreement to design and supply all eight team home and away strips for the new Australian A-League competition. Although not an expensive deal, this partnership paid dividends for Reebok, due to the growing popularity of football and the league in the area. An estimated 125,000 A-League jerseys were sold in Australia, a record for a single league's sales in a year for a sports manufacturer. Reebok's agreement ended at the finish of the 2010–11 season.
The Reebok Foundation operates the "Build Our Kids' Success" (BOKS) program to provide US schoolchildren with physical activities before the school day. Reebok funds the program with direct grants and by contributing a percentage of shoe sales.
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