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The Brand History of Reebok

The Brand History of Reebok

It’s fascinating to know where these brands came from…

Reebok was founded in Bolton, in 1890. Joseph William Foster, a sports enthusiast, had the idea of adding spikes to shoes to help with running faster (and traction). Recognizing the immense untapped potential of the sportswear industry he founded the JW Foster and Sons Incorporated 5 years later. See below for an early model comparison.parison.


The family-owned business made the running shoes worn in the 1924 Summer Games by the athletes celebrated in the film “Chariots of Fire”. In 2006 they became part of the Adidas group.

Why ‘Reebok’?
J W Foster and Sons, as a name, had outlived its vibe. In 1958, two of the founder’s grandsons got thinking and found ‘rhebok’ in a South African dictionary which basically was a local name for a species of antelope that roamed the African continent. Inspired by the word, they changed the name of the company to “Reebok” in 1958.

A Company on the Move

In 1979, Paul Fireman spotted Reebok shoes at an international trade show. He negotiated for the North American distribution license and introduced three running shoes in the U.S. that year. At $60, they were the most expensive running shoes on the market.

The Reebok Classic

In 1982, Reebok introduced the first athletic shoe designed especially for women; a shoe for a hot new fitness exercise called aerobic dance. The shoe was called the Freestyle™, and with it Reebok anticipated and encouraged major trends that transformed the athletic footwear industry.

Explosive growth followed, which Reebok fuelled with product extensions – new categories in which it also became a leader.

The Freestyle is now a “Classic” and is Reebok’s best selling athletic shoe of all time. Reebok’s performance aerobic shoes have progressed through several generations.


In 1992, Reebok began a transition from a company identified principally with fitness and exercise to one equally involved in sports. It created a host of new footwear and apparel products for football, baseball, football (soccer), track and field and other sports. It signed numerous professional athletes, teams and federations to sponsorship contracts.

What now then?

Reebok has set up stations right on the Stockholm streets where passersby can sprint by a stationary ad equipped with a speed camera for a chance to unlock a free pair of Reebok ZPump 2.0 shoes. If they run past the ad at a speed of 17 kilometers per hour, they win the shoes. If they don’t, they win nothing but embarrassment. It’s a good idea for any brand, but especially for Reebok.

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