The term “celebrity designer” usually is the end result of a well-oiled marketing machine, where dozens upon dozens of artisans sketch, color, and shape designs that a single individual gets the credit for. So pardon the good dose skepticism when Reebok Classics announced the involvement of hip-hop artist Swizz Beatz as its new global creative director. We found out quickly that Swizz is not just another figurehead.
Reebok’s background and name stems from the rhebok, a nimble antelope found in Africa. The British footwear company J.W. Foster and Sons inspired the Union Jack logo on their early designs. But the modern reiteration of the Reebok we all know today is the product of one man, Paul Fireman, an American sport goods distributor who purchased all the rights to the name during the early 80s. Seeing the brand’s potential, Fireman soon altered its name to Reebok International. Industrious from the get-go, the small, yet astute company soon found itself on par with its main competitors, adidas and Nike. The brand also enriched the sport technologies category with features like Hexalite, DMX, and of course, the Pump. However, Reebok never fully capitalized on its popularity. Soon, it was relegated to follow its rivals in both market share and brand recognition. In August of 2005, adidas made an offer to acquire Reebok. The price was a whopping $3.8 billion dollars, and the deal was finalized during January of the following year.
Swizz Beatz pitched in late last year to jump-start the brand. Though greeted initially by fans like the writers here at Freshness with hints of apprehension, Beatz quickly made good on his new title and kicked off the new venture with the future-forward Reebok Kamikaze. Unlike the other “celebrity designers” and their creations, the Reebok Kamikaze, as well as subsequent designs, isn’t just another gloss-over celebrity edition. Instead, Beatz followed the creative process closely, down to the new Reethym of Lite global campaign. Beatz characterizes his role at Reebok Classics, not as a mere spokesperson, but instead as a creative director. Now with the ever-stylized Japanese influencer VERBAL as its new Creative Director for Asia Pacific, the company will hasten its strides in the active lifestyle market it helped to create. During the a recent introduction of Reethym of Life campaign in Japan, we had the opportunity to speak with both men about their new roles in Reebok Classics and the new dynamic shifts they will bring to label.