FROM J.W. FOSTER AND SONS TO REEBOK - THE INCEPTION OF THE ENGLISH POWER
Reebok is one of the leading brands in the sports footwear industry. Together with such giants as Puma, Nike and adidas it sets trends and proposes newer and more technologically advanced solutions. So how was the brand associated with prestige and top quality born? Let's go back over 100 years in time.
J.W. Foster and Sons - a family business with huge potential
The history of the brand dates back to 1895 and that means that Reebok has been present on the market for 124 years! It all started as a cliché. A small family business under the name J.W. Foster and Sons specializes in producing sports footwear. The head of the family, the father, Joseph B. Foster is obviously the founder of the brand. The British company functioned under this name for more than 50 years and its products enjoyed great popularity among the customers. The fact that the English athletes, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, wore this footwear during the Olympic Games in 1924 proves it best. Due to “Chariots of Fire”, a popular movie about the runners, this particular moment turned out to be extremely significant in the history of Reebok.
The grey rhebok - where did Reebok get its name from?
In 1958, the grandsons of J. K. Foster decided to set up a shoe company that was supposed to be associated with "J. W. Foster and Sons". Jeffrey and Joseph (these were the names of Foster's grandchildren) called the brand Mercury Sports. Shortly afterwards, the companies decided to merge which meant that they needed to find a new, more catchy name for their business. They went for Reebok. But what does it mean and where did the idea come from? While browsing the dictionary, Foster's grandchildren came across the characteristic name of the antelope species (the grey rhebok) which inhabits Southern Africa.
The milestones of the Reebok brand. The story
Two events influenced the way the Reebok brand looks and operates today. Paul Fireman, a distributor of sports accessories for foreign markets, is responsible for one of the successes. The year 1979 turned out to be a real milestone for the company - Reebok entered the US market thanks to the abovementioned distributor. This decision turned out to be an absolute success, already after the first two years of operating in the USA, the brand’s turnover reached 1.5 million dollars! The second groundbreaking moment for Reebok was in 1982 when The Freestyle, the first flagship model of the brand and the first model of sports shoes for women, was launched. As everyone will probably guess, it immediately became extremely popular among the customers. There was a real boom in aerobics and the fact that Reebok was in the right place at the right time made the company revolutionize the footwear industry and fitness fashion.
Reebok and its further development
Together with a group of American investors from Pentland Industries, Paul Fireman decided to take over the brand in 1984 and set up a holding company named Reebok International Limited located in the UK. A year later, the brand was listed on the stock exchange. In 1988 the brand owners won hearts of the athletes from another sports discipline. This time they focused on basketball which back then used to be immensely popular. The collaboration with well-known basketball players and the launching of the first original Reebok Pump basketball shoes proved to be another great decision of the brand owners!
Crises, takeovers, campaigns and... getting back on stage!
Because of the serious competition on the sports fashion market, the 1990s was a time of real crisis for Reebok. Nike and adidas became extremely popular among the customers which meant that Reebok lost its status as a sports brand. However, it doesn’t mean that Reebok rested on its laurels and stopped developing. Just the opposite! In 1994 the company launched a campaign to promote sneakers without shoelaces which attracted interest of sports style enthusiasts. In 2000, Reebok became a partner of the National Football League and a year later it started its collaboration with the NBA. Thanks to it, the brand acquired the right to manufacture and sell shoes, clothing and other sports accessories for teams. 2002 also brought changes - the brand introduced the Rbk collection inspired by lifestyle. The cultural campaign combining music, sports, fashion and technology, featured the greatest rap stars such as Jay Z and 50 Cent! The very beginning of 2006 also turned out to be truly a milestone moment for Reebok. On 31 January the brand was officially taken over by one of its biggest rivals on the market, adidas. Under the watchful eye of the German giant, Reebok, its iconic shoe models and sportswear have regained their popularity.