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Technology and Design Collide in New Reebok Running Capsule

A new running shoe drop from Reebok and high-concept fashion studio Charli Cohen explores how performance products can inform and enhance our relationship with technology.

“Growing up in the first generation of digital natives, I’m fascinated by the conflict between the immensity of what technology gives us access to and the limitations of what the human brain can actually process,” said Charli Cohen, founder and namesake of the London-based fashion firm that helped Reebok bring the new running silhouette to life.

According to Reebok, the collection muses on the idea of an exoskeleton that elevates human performance beyond what’s biologically possible while paying homage to the “imperfections that make us human.”

The Forbes 30 Under 30 designer, who debuted her first fashion label at age 15 before launching her studio eight years later, has long been drawn to technology’s links with human-centric design.

“Technical fashion, as I see it, is fashion without limitations,” she told Reebok in a November blog post. “It’s the intelligent version of the styles you wanted to wear anyway. I think there’s still this fixed idea of what activewear and sportswear should look like, and they’re different. To me, technical fashion is not restricted to either aesthetic.”

To birth the new collection, Cohen collaborated with Reebok to rework the shoemaker’s signature silhouettes with women in mind. The resulting black-and-white Zig Kinetica Horizon offers a streamlined profile designed for the typically sleeker lines of a woman’s foot, in addition to a breathable mesh upper and enhanced Zig cushioning. By contrast, the capsule’s other sneaker, the black-and-grey Fusium Run 20 Sock, is designed with a lightweight textile upper offering a foot-hugging sock-like fit and the Floatride Fuel cushioning that has become a staple in Reebok footwear.

Available exclusively in women’s sizes, the capsule debuted at retail for $120 on June 29.

For Cohen, designing performance footwear that uses technology to enable stands in contrast to how consumers are often expected to adapt themselves to new tech in the world at large.

“I think this gap is one the key reasons that we’re in a mental health crisis,” said Cohen, whose studio gets 70 percent of its fabric from regenerated ocean plastic waste and upcycles surplus military garments into new fashion. “Bridging the gap relies on technology that works in harmony with our humanity. This technology should give us the tools we need to evolve as quickly as our environment, without overriding the imperfections that make us individuals.”