Reebok, also known as Reebok International Limited, was founded in Bolton, United Kingdom, in 1895 under the name J.W. Foster & Sons. The company was founded by Joseph William Foster, a running enthusiast who belonged to the Bolton Primrose Harriers running club in the UK. Joe wanted to develop a running shoe that would improve his performance on the track. After tinkering around with some ideas, he created a spiked running shoe, the first of its kind at the time. After proving their success on the track, Joe quickly began producing models for fellow runners, turning his hobby into a full time job. Besides for the spiked runners, which became known as Foster Deluxe Spikes, J.W. Foster & Sons also produced basic trainers.
In the year 1958, the company name of J.W. Foster & Sons was changed to Reebok by the grandsons of Joe Foster. The name comes from the Afrikaans spelling of rhebok, a type of African antelope or gazelle, which was discovered in a South African dictionary that Joe Foster won during his youth. Besides for track shoes and runners, Reebok started producing athletic apparel to go along with their shoes. The company continued to grow at a somewhat steady pace, picking up distribution licenses in almost 30 countries around the world, but never actually blew up until 30yrs later, when the brand found its way to the United States.
In 1979, Reebok granted Paul Fireman with a distribution license to bring the Reebok lineup to the United States. When Paul brought Reebok to State’s he introduced three new running shoes, which at the time were the most expensive sneakers on the market with their price tag of $60. Bringing a new brand into the country that folks State side weren’t familiar with and sticking it on the shelves with the highest price yet was a risky move, but something that proved to be well worth the risk. The people in the United States quickly grew fond of the Reebok running shoes, putting them in high demand. In 1981 alone, Reebok generated a $1.5 million profit just in the US. The plant in Bolton, United Kingdom couldnt even keep up with the demand at this point and Reebok opened up a new plant in South Korea.
When Reebok was introduced in the United States it was competing with the behemoth we know now as Nike. Throughout the 1980s and early 90s, Reebok and Nike were in a continuous battle to produce the best trainers on the market. Reebok always seemed to be one step ahead of Nike at the time though, producing models such as the Pump Court Victory forcing Nike to follow up with the Nike Air Max. However, when 1985 rolled around and Nike produced the first pair of Air Jordans, they quickly reclaimed the spotlight. This is a time when basketball sneakers started getting real big in the United States, sort of leaving the trainers on the back burner for awhile.
Reebok, however, still continued along with their history of producing trainers, introducing the Pump Fury in the 90’s. Although the Pump Fury gained somewhat of a following among sneakerheads who wore trainers, it still couldn’t compete with the sales that Nike was generating with the Air Jordan lineup and other popular models such as the Nike Dunk, Nike Blazer and Nike Terminator.
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