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Reebok’s CFDA Partnership Lends High-Fashion Style to Iconic Sneakers

Reebok is giving its iconic sneaker styles a high-fashion makeover.

On Thursday, the athletic brand said it is continuing a partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, sponsoring five promising new designers tasked with lending their “creative energy” to some of Reebok’s most distinctive sneaker silhouettes, time to New York Fashion Week: Men’s.

“Our continued partnership with the CFDA enables us to discover, grow and empower the next generation of American designers,” Karen Reuther, Reebok vice president, creative direction and future, said in a statement. “Through industry exposure, close mentorships and unparalleled experience in design, our goal is to support these promising designers with a foundation that will propel them onto the next stage of their creative journeys.”

As consumers gravitate to the sneaker lifestyle, brands like Reebok must deliver on products that fill the gap between function and fashion. The five CFDA designers will bring their vision to Reebok’s Club C, Classic Nylon and Classic Leather sneakers, as well as its newest innovation, the Zig Kinetica, which will be showcased at an immersive New York Fashion Week event hosted jointly by Reebok and the council.

Visitors can examine each of the designer-created Reebok sneakers and the sketches, swatches and mood boards “that illustrate each unique design process as they fused their styles with Reebok’s classic silhouettes,” the athletic label said.

Sneakers on display will not be available for purchase.

Reebok is sponsoring five CFDA men's wear designers to reimagine four of its sneaker silhouettes for a New York Fashion Week: Men's event.
Iconic Reebok sneaker silhouettes will serve as a blank canvas for five promising CFDA designers. Courtesy

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Participating designers include Los Angeles-based Kenneth Nicholson, a former Navy enlistee whose 2016 namesake label draws inspiration from the “precision of military culture.” Neil Patrick Grotzinger’s NIHL label, referencing the term “nihilism,” riffs on the Midwestern masculinity that “saturated” the designer’s suburban childhood. Keenkee, launched in 2018 by Seoul-born, New York-based Kee Kim, “observes a relationship between the wearer and clothes as an intricate game.”

Victor Li will bring a “pancultural” men’s wear point of view, marked by hand-drawing, rich color schemes and an “emphasis on novelty knitwear.” Though it launched in 2013 with one ball cap silhouette in three colorways, Paa now creates “simple and thoughtful” timeless pieces, with a focus on fabric and fit, merging classic style with experimental fashion.

Nurturing a pipeline of emerging talent can help Reebok access the next generation of design leaders and promising minds who might carve out their niche in the footwear space.

“Reebok’s continued support and mentorship provides emerging talents with the opportunity to develop their brands in new and modern ways,” CFDA’s vice president of marketing and events Mark Beckham said. “Access to Reebok’s global expertise gives these small, entrepreneurial designers valuable tools to take their businesses to the next level.”