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Reebok Taps DIY Influencer to Promote Upcycled Fashion

Reebok is using old Reebok gear to make new Reebok gear. And it’s enlisting the help of a former employee turned upcycling influencer to do it.

Nicole McLaughlin has earned a loyal Instagram following for her unique, DIY fashion creations—including a pair of sandals strapped down with the plastic casing saved from a pack of Oreos and a top made entirely from the nylon straps of old watches—now Reebok is tapping the influencer and former Reebok graphic designer to promote the sustainability of upcycling in a new collection.

The NM x Reebok Collection, will be a capsule of hats, jackets and bags, all made using vintage Reebok materials. Each of the 17 pieces in the collection is handmade, and a peek at McLaughlin’s Instagram page hints at accessories and jackets made with the puffy leathers and sleek styling the footwear brand is known for.

“I’m trying to highlight things Reebok was doing in the past and kind of the irreverent past,” McLaughlin said of the collection. “Working for Reebok for the past four years, I saw so much of our archive and history and I wanted to be able to bring that into the modern-day pieces.”

nicole mclaughlin upcycled reebok collection
McClaughlin “had never touched a sewing machine” prior to becoming an internet sensation and often makes her creations without a plan or pattern. Reebok

Reebok will be taking a very intimate approach to promoting the collection, highlighting the do-it-yourself appeal of both McLaughlin’s work and upcycling, in general. On Thursday, fans of the brand or the influencer can visit Reebok’s Union Square location in New York City for a chance to purchase a piece of the one-off collection. Additionally, those who attend can bring their own used clothing to be recycled or donated for reuse.

McLaughlin said this is all part of the plan to fight back against waste and fast fashion, all while giving consumers something to be genuinely excited about.

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“For me, it’s just getting in the industry and making noise and creating awareness around it. I also think people have such a preconceived notion of what sustainability and fashion looks like and it’s usually this very monochromatic vibe,” McLaughlin explained in a statement. “I’m trying to show it in a very different way. It can be fun, it can be playful—it doesn’t have to be one thing. There are so many great designers now that I’m getting inspired by that are doing different forms of upcycling. It can mean so many different things. So, there are steps being taken but it has to continue, and brands need to wake up. It’s time.”

Both Reebok and McLaughlin agree that the primary focus of the collection is to promote sustainability in the industry and to offer consumers another outlet besides from fast fashion. By combining the force of personality endemic to Instagram culture and the appeal of a sustainable, upcycled collection, the pair hope to make what was once old, new again.

“You want to buy something and feel good about it,” McLaughlin said. “You want to feel like you bought it from a brand that stands for something. If fast fashion is promoted and idealized as it is, it won’t change.”