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Reebok: A History of Innovation and Fitness

CEO Tinh Phung
Reebok International Limited, an iconic American fitness footwear and clothing brand, has been revolutionizing the sports industry since its establishment in England in 1958. Founded as a companion company to J.W. Foster and Sons, a...


Reebok International Limited, an iconic American fitness footwear and clothing brand, has been revolutionizing the sports industry since its establishment in England in 1958. Founded as a companion company to J.W. Foster and Sons, a renowned sporting goods company, Reebok quickly made its mark with innovative products and a commitment to athletic excellence. Over the years, Reebok has evolved and adapted to changing trends and consumer needs, cementing its position as a leader in the global sports arena.

Early Years: A Legacy of Excellence

In the late 19th century, Joseph William Foster, at the young age of 14, began designing spiked running shoes in his bedroom above his father's sweetshop in Bolton, England. His passion for creating high-performance footwear led to the establishment of "J.W. Foster" in 1900. Later, Foster joined forces with his sons, and the company became known as J.W. Foster and Sons. With their reputation for quality craftsmanship, the Fosters gained popularity among athletes, and their shoes were worn by British athletes, including 100m Olympic champion Harold Abrahams in the 1924 Summer Olympics.

In 1958, the legacy continued with the formation of Reebok by two of Joseph William Foster's grandsons, Jeff and Joe Foster. The name "Reebok" was chosen from a dictionary won by Joe in a childhood sprint race. Meaning "grey rhebok" in Afrikaans, referring to an African antelope, the name captured the brand's spirit of agility and speed.

Pioneering the Fitness Industry

Reebok's breakthrough moment came in 1982 with the introduction of the Reebok Freestyle aerobics shoe, the very first athletic shoe designed specifically for women. The Freestyle resonated with fitness enthusiasts worldwide, and Reebok's sales soared. This success led to the company's acquisition by American businessman Paul Fireman in 1984, marking the beginning of a new era for Reebok.

Former Reebok headquarters in Canton, Massachusetts, U.S. Former Reebok headquarters in Canton, Massachusetts, U.S.

Reebok's commitment to innovation and performance continued throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The brand expanded its product range from tennis and aerobics shoes to running and basketball, catering to the diverse needs of athletes. In 1989, Reebok introduced its iconic Reebok Pump shoes, which featured a unique adjustable fit controlled by manual air allocation. The Reebok Pump quickly became a favorite among professional athletes, including the legendary Shaquille O'Neal.

As the brand's reputation soared, Reebok repositioned itself as a performance-focused company. The iconic logo transitioned from the flag of the United Kingdom to the vector logo, symbolizing the shift towards professional sports partnerships with the NBA and NFL. Reebok also ventured into sports clothing and accessories, and even introduced a line of athletic shoes for children called Weeboks.

Embracing New Frontiers

Reebok has always been at the forefront of fitness trends, anticipating the needs of consumers and adapting to changing lifestyles. In 2010, Reebok partnered with CrossFit, a popular fitness company and competitive sport, sponsoring the CrossFit Games and offering a line of co-branded footwear and apparel. This partnership solidified Reebok's presence in the fitness industry and its dedication to providing athletes with revolutionary products.

The company's commitment to innovation is evident in its continuous development of cutting-edge technologies. Reebok introduced the Zig technology in 2010, featuring zigzag foam soles that propel athletes forward. In 2011, they launched the Reebok Nano, the first official CrossFit shoe. Reebok is also known for its collaborations with fitness professionals, such as their partnership with Les Mills International to integrate Reebok footwear and clothing into Les Mills' fitness programs.

Adidas Reebok European headquarters in Amsterdam Adidas Reebok European headquarters in Amsterdam

Authentic Brands Group: A New Chapter Begins

In a recent milestone, Authentic Brands Group acquired the Reebok brand from Adidas in 2022, continuing Reebok's journey of innovation and success. This new chapter opens up exciting possibilities for future collaborations and advancements in sportswear.

Reebok's global headquarters are located in Boston, Massachusetts, in the vibrant Seaport District. The company's dedication to fitness and quality craftsmanship is evident in its diverse range of products, including fitness, running, and CrossFit sportswear. Reebok has consistently pushed boundaries and inspired athletes worldwide, making it a trusted name in the industry.

From its humble beginnings as a family business to its current position as a global leader, Reebok remains committed to its core values of excellence, performance, and innovation. With a legacy spanning over six decades, Reebok continues to inspire individuals to push their limits and unleash their full potential.