Reebok Club C 85 History
Joseph William Foster was not much of a household name in the early stretches of the 20th century. In fact, it was his ancestry’s involvement in cricket pitching sport that made way to their sensible inclination in making track shoes. His grandfather, Samuel Foster, had a visitor in 1862 by the name of Samuel Biddulph who was the superstar of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club.
Biddulph went to Foster for a specific purpose--to modify his shoes for him to be able to maneuver a particular move he invented which requires a superb grip. Shoes during that time were built with hobnails, and these thick-headed protrusions weren't up for the task. Foster came up with spikes, and it was the first incarnation of a superior grip since the dawn of footwear history.
The discovery resulted in copious amounts of sales. Eventually, the business tapped other enterprises like football and golf with cricket as their focus genre. After twenty years, Samuel Foster introduced his grandson into the shoe-making business which in turn reestablished another path for their already coveted start.
As a runner, Joe Foster noticed some discrepancies with his grandfather’s design. With a little bit of tweaking and experimenting, Joe came up with a lightweight yet durable shoe in 1898 which features six one-inch spikes for enhanced grip. The shoe was coined the Running Pump.
At the time, Foster’s company was established under the title J.W Foster & Sons. The Running Pump quickly gained stardom when track stars Harold Abrahams and Eric Lindell wore them in the Paris Olympic Games in 1924. They won gold medals for 100m and 400m respectively. With a growing heap of fans and increasing revenue at hand, the company continued to flourish until they reached a hiatus around the 1950s.
The Reebok legacy
Breaking away from the disagreements, James’ and Williams’ sons named Joe and Jeff Foster branched out from their family heirloom brand to create their own. In their shoulders lie their father’s and grandfather’s legacy on which they changed the name into a relatively more contemporary moniker.
Before then, their newly established shoe company was coined Mercury Sports Footwear which was eventually found out to be registered by another company. Rummaging through Joe’s prized American dictionary, they encountered the word Reebok which was a small African gazelle and found it fit to carry the brand.
Reebok gradually picked up the running pace in the 60s where silhouettes under their umbrella embellished the iconic vector logo on the side panel. The design was equally matched by the prestigious StarCrest logo on which was personally designed by Joe Foster himself. Soon after, track pros began wearing Reeboks again in competitions and winning in them.
One of the historical iterations that brought the Reebok brand into the footwear limelight was the famous World 10 which was sported by the first placer Ron Hill in the 1970’s Boston Marathon. The orange-drenched shoe was one of the very first runners to showcase the glove leather and suede combination. With a burgeoning crowd of followers, Reebok tapped into diverse landscapes and led their ventures into the U.S.A.
The pivotal person in Reebok’s rise to global prominence was an American named Paul Fireman. Joe Foster was holding an exhibit at the 1978 National Sporting Goods Association where Fireman was expeditiously attracted to the brand. On that same instance, Fireman acquired the distribution rights of all Reebok products to North America. The understanding between the two parties also included creative input based on the consumer’s preference in the territories.
Realizing the massive disparity between men’s and women’s footwear, Reebok had the hint of creating a female-specific shoe built to tackle the jumpy vibes of aerobics venues. Initiated by a California sales representative named Angel Martinez, the Reebok Freestyle was born in 1982 and had soared the sales charts by a gazillion percent.
The earlier glove leather from the World 10 was remastered and utilized in the Freestyle with a complementing plush, terry lining to exude maximum comfort. The icon served as a promising model for subsequent Reebok releases which ultimately spread out into different sports and enterprises. Fortunately, one of those penetrations encountered the variable hard court of tennis.
The birth of a court icon
Featured by the off-court trend-setting of John McEnroe and Boris Becker, the Newport Classic tennis shoe or more commonly known as NPC had hit the streets in 1985 with a surprising cult following. The sneaker’s design cues follow the strict dress codes of previous tennis regimes which require a minimalist look mainly in white pigment. The NPC had a brother in the works during that same ethos and was hailed as the Revenge Plus but due to its radical design was stripped down into another iteration known as the Reebok Club C.
The Reebok Club C 85, as the name suggests, entered into the sneaker world as a tennis shoe in the mid-’80s. The C stands for Champion. Reebok took the DNA of the Reebok Revenge Plus and made it into a more minimal, slightly less gaudy silhouette to adapt to the rules of tennis.
The full grain leather and comfy interior allowed the shoe to gain prominence among tennis loyalists and exercise fanatics in during this decade. One particular oddity in the design that still stands to this day is the catchy Reebok branding that is prominently displayed together with the British emblem when the company was licensed and distributed in the US by Paul Fireman. Perhaps because it has become such a huge part of the shoe, this element of the Club C 85 may never be removed entirely throughout its existence.
Like some of the most famous tennis shoes that became sneaker icons, the Club C 85 was also discontinued for some time. It came back more popular than ever. After its moderate period of hiatus, it has been embraced by some of today’s most famous rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Curren$y. The almost anonymous beginning of this shoe is really in sharp contrast to how it is currently treated by the more updated and far-reaching fans of this line.
Recent collaborations with artists and boutiques are likely only to increase this shoe’s rising popularity. The early instances of partnership happened with Swizz Beatz in 2013 where the Alicia-Keys-grabber spearheaded the resurrection of the Reebok Classics line. Among the inaugural collection was an olive suede colorway with perforations on the side and a glistening gold and black edition.
In 2016, Reebok launches the “Year of Court” collection which features silhouettes like the NPC, NPC UK, and, of course, the Club C. Each iteration debuted in their original construction and colorway of mostly white with retro detailing. The Reebok Club C 85 Vintage flaunts a dual-density midsole coupled by an internal thermoplastic molded heel counter to add stability.
In the same year, Reebok also introduced a sterling version of the Club C which pulls out hints from the tennis sport itself. The Solebox x Reebok Club C 85 “Tennis Racket” glows in a light turquoise leather which resembles the look of a tennis racket’s grip tape. To complete the look, grey and red accents are injected on the upper with the beloved Berlin’s sneaker shop embroidered on the heel tab.
With the prevalence of modern technology in the sneaker market today, Reebok keeps up with the fad by bringing a knitted version of the trusty-old tennis shoe. The Reebok Club C 85 Ultraknit’s ingenious assembly features an Ultraknit upper which was first witnessed in the Zoku runner, and a vintage midsole dipped in off-white.