Reebok Freestyle

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Reebok Freestyle
Freestyle Current.jpg
Product typeFootwear

Reebok Freestyle is an athletic shoe style introduced in 1982 by Reebok. The Freestyle was the first sneaker designed (by Angel Martinez who was a co founder of Reebok [1]) and marketed for women.[2][3][4] It helped Reebok into the mainstream athletic wear market and fashion scene along with becoming one of the most popular athletic shoes of all time.[5] In 1984, the shoe accounted for more than half of Reebok sales.[6] The Reebok Freestyle was popular during the 1980s aerobics craze[7][8] and is still in production and remodeled through various collections and style variations.


Freestyle Hi in 1985

Released in 1982, the Reebok Freestyle was the first athletic shoe designed for women, even though it has also become fairly popular among males.[3] Angel Martinez, one of Reebok's founders, and Scott Liggett, head of Reebok production, were instrumental developing the shoe.[9] The shoe was made to accommodate aerobics workouts and was released during the height of the 1980s aerobics craze.[10] Fitness Instructor Denise Austin was one first to promote the shoe by wearing them at a sport and fitness exposition in Los Angeles.[11] Following the debut and success of the Freestyle, Reebok began sponsoring clinics and workout programs throughout the 1980s and '90s. The shoes could be seen on the trainers of Jane Fonda workout videos and classes,[2][12] and the Step Reebok workout routine was released in 1989.[13]

By 1983, Reebok's sales were over $13 million, accounting for half of the company's total sales[6] and the following year concluded with $66 million in sales.[3]

The Freestyle success and the athletic shoe fad of the late 1980s saw new competition from Avia, LA Gear, and Nike. Many competitors, like LA Gear and off-price retailers like Fayva, had models that looked like the Freestyle high-top complete with velcro enclosures.


The Freestyle debuted as a terrycloth lined sneaker with "glove-soft" leather designed for aerobics workouts.[2] The shoe was designed for fitness purposes but became used for casual wear as well.[14] The shoe comes in two different styles including below the ankle, like a tennis shoe, or the high-top style that covers the ankle, like a basketball shoe. The Freestyle high-top features two velcro straps that fasten around the ankle and is made in women's sizes, but is considered unisex, being also worn by men.[15] Both the low-top and high-top were offered in white, black, red, yellow, blue, pink, orange, and green colors over the years.

Athletic use[edit]

Consumers were impressed with the styling, comfort, and support the shoe provided for working out. The Freestyle's athletic use spread to walking, bodybuilding, dance, and cheerleading. Ms. Olympia Cory Everson wore Freestyle high-tops frequently in competition, working out, and on ESPN's BodyShaping program. Reebok sponsored the Los Angeles Laker Girls in the late 1980s and supplied them with white Freestyle high-tops. Since then, other professional cheerleading and dance teams have used Freestyles. High school and college cheerleading teams have used Freestyles as their shoe of choice. It is also used in competitive aerobics.

Casual wear[edit]

Outside the gym, the Freestyle became popular casual wear. Women could wear Freestyles with jeans, shorts, capri pants, sweatpants, tights or leggings, and even as commuter shoes to work.[12] In the 1980s, Freestyles were often seen with flop or slouch socks which were usually stretched over the bottom of the pant leg to help highlight the shoe.


After the Freestyle's initial debut, Reebok released various collaborations and special edition styles of the shoe. The Freestyle had several special editions released in the 1980s including the Rainbow Suede version.[16] The Freestyle celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special collection of six limited-edition shoes that debuted at a New York City exclusive event in March 2007. The Reebok sponsored event called "Freestyle Forever" included celebrity guests such as Cybill Shepherd, Brooke Shields, and Tara Reid and highlighted moments in past and present Freestyle history.[17]

In 2008, Reebok introduced a Freestyle collaboration with the French boutique Colette and American women's wear company, Married to the Mob.[18] The Reebok Freestyle - Wonder Woman was released in 2009[19] and had design features such as a red metallic upper with a star-spangled back tab that mimicked the costume of comic book character Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, and the lace-stay looked similar to the tiara of the superhero while the two gold metallic straps that closely resembled her bracelets.[20]

Alicia Keys teamed up with Reebok in 2012 for a collection of different shoes including high-top Freestyles and Freestyle Double Bubble along with Classic Nylon Slim and Princess sneakers.[21] Reebok introduced collaborations with Takahiro Miyashita and the Sand.W.Man project in 2014 for the Reebok Freestyle high-top and the Reebok Ex-o-Fit released in a signature monochromatic, sandy style look.[22]

In 2018, the Netflix original series "GLOW" and Reebok Classics teamed up to create two new Freestyle Hi designs to be worn by characters on the show.[23] Costume designer Beth Morgan shared how the partnership came together: "I reached out to Reebok about product placement since we used the shoes so often in the show to see if they had any reproductions of the authentic shoes. Through those conversations, I said it would be awesome to design shoes that were authentic to the period, and they were all on board... The whole idea behind the collaboration is that the product would be in the show, and we could sell them to our fans after we air."[24]

In popular culture[edit]

In 1985, actress Cybill Shepherd wore a bright orange pair or Reebok Freestyles, with a black strapless gown, at the 1985 Emmy Awards.[14][25] Some women who owned more than one color of Freestyles wore two different colored shoes in combination, like white and black or red and yellow. This trend occurred around the time that the title character of the Punky Brewster television series popularized this style.[12] Rolling Stones front-man Mick Jagger wore a pair of Freestyles in his "Dancing in the Street" video with David Bowie in 1985.[14] Canadian singer Kiesza has also been photographed wearing various Freestyle shoes, both casually and in her music video for her single "Hideaway."[26]

The slang name for the shoes was a "fifty-four elevens" because the retail price for a pair was usually $49.99 and with tax, in New York City, they cost $54.11.[21]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Does This Shoe Fit?; Reebok Marketing Ace Stamps His Style on Rockport". The Times. 1995-10-14. Retrieved 2019-09-08.
  2. ^ a b c Hal Rubenstein (September 7, 1986). "Kicking Up Your Heels Never So Stylish As Now". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Reebok International Ltd. History". Funding Universe. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  4. ^ "EasyTone Freestyle HI – In shape in style with a special edition sneakers". 2 Luxury 2. March 10, 2012. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  5. ^ "Reebok International Ltd". Hoovers. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Reebok Freestyle - Museum Recap". Sneaker Freaker. December 31, 2012. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  7. ^ Matthew Karnitschnig; Stephanie Kang (August 4, 2005). "For Adidas, Reebok Deal Caps Push to Broaden Urban Appeal". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  8. ^ Patrick Johnson (May 31, 2014). "Reebok Freestyle Hi "Exotics" - Black - Metallic Silver". Sneaker News. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  9. ^ Scottie Beam (June 18, 2018). "Flipping the Game" (Podcast). Reebok Classic and Gimlet Creative. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  10. ^ "Reebok Freestyle". Kicks On Fire. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  11. ^ Scottie Beam (June 18, 2018). "Flipping the Game" (Podcast). Reebok Classic and Gimlet Creative. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  12. ^ a b c Nadja Sayej. "Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture". Noisey by Vice. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  13. ^ Edward Wong (June 19, 2001). "Nike Trying New Strategies For Women; Company Seeks Merger Of Athletics and Fashion". The New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  14. ^ a b c Martha Groves (August 3, 1986). "Reebok Sprinting to the Lead: Field of Eager Competitors". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  15. ^ Anne-Marie Schiro (June 15, 1985). "In Athletic Shoes Reebok Leads the Pack". The New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  16. ^ Elizabeth Nolan Brown (October 1, 2013). "12 Classic (or Classics-Inspired) Reebok Hi Tops". Bustle. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  17. ^ "Reebok Kicks Off Collection With Retro Bash". BizBash. March 7, 2007. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  18. ^ "Reebok Freestyle x Colette x Married to the Mob". Sneaker News. July 25, 2008. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  19. ^ "Reebok Freestyle – Wonder Women". Limite Magazine. August 20, 2009. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  20. ^ "Wonder Woman Reebok Freestyle". The Shoe Game. August 19, 2009. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  21. ^ a b Nikki Ogunnaike (September 5, 2012). "Introducing Alicia Keys x Reebok: Or As I Like To Call It "The Perfect Collaboration Ever!"". Glamour. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  22. ^ Brendan Dunne (June 24, 2014). "Sand.W.Man x Reebok Classics "#003/Dance"". Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  23. ^ "Reebok Partners With Netflix's 'GLOW' on '80s-Inspired Kicks — And They're Going to Be on the Show".
  24. ^ "'GLOW' Costume Designer Talks Sneakers & Those '80s Trends You Love to Hate".
  25. ^ "Cybill Shepherd". People. September 16, 1996. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  26. ^ Jennifer Lynn (July 14, 2014). "Kiesza's Kicks: The Hideaway Singer's Top 10 Sneaker Looks". MTV UK. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  27. ^ Scottie Beam (June 18, 2018). "Flipping the Game" (Podcast). Reebok Classic and Gimlet Creative. Retrieved June 18, 2018.

External links[edit]