Reebok Freestyle is an athletic shoe style introduced in 1982 by Reebok. The Freestyle was the first sneaker designed and marketed for women. 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. In 1984, the shoe accounted for more than half of Reebok sales. The Reebok Freestyle was popular during the 1980s aerobics craze and is still in production and remodeled through various collections and style variations.
Released in 1982, the Reebok Freestyle was the first athletic shoe designed for women, even though it has also become fairly popular among males.  The shoe was made to accommodate aerobics workouts and was released during the height of the 1980s aerobics craze. 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, and the Step Reebok workout routine was released in 1989.
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. The shoe was designed for fitness purposes but became used for casual wear as well. 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. Both the low-top and high-top were offered in white, black, red, yellow, blue, pink, orange, and green colors over the years.
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.
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. 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. 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.
In 2008, Reebok introduced a Freestyle collaboration with the French boutique Colette and American women's wear company, Married to the Mob. The Reebok Freestyle - Wonder Woman was released in 2009 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.
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. 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.
In popular culture
In 1985, actress Cybill Shepherd wore a bright orange pair or Reebok Freestyles, with a black strapless gown, at the 1985 Emmy Awards. 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. Rolling Stones front-man Mick Jagger wore a pair of Freestyles in his "Dancin' in the Street" video with David Bowie in 1985. Canadian singer Kiesza has also been photographed wearing various Freestyle shoes, both casually and in her music video for her single "Hideaway." Iggy Azalea and her backup dancers performed Fancy/Beg for It in Reebok Freestyles at the American Music Awards on 23 November 2014. Sue Heck, a character in the American TV series The Middle, wears many colors of Reebok Freestyle in the show.
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