NEW YORK, United States — Reebok is to make an appearance on the runway at New York Fashion Week thanks to a new collaboration with Jonathan Simkhai.
The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner has reimagined the classic Freestyle Hi sneaker in eight colourways, which will make its debut during Simkhai’s Spring/Summer 2018 show at New York Fashion Week.
The designer, who is best known for his eveningwear and tailoring, has incorporated fabrics typically used in his collections, including crochet and seersucker. “We wanted to revamp the style, so we did a new technique using the macrame and crochet fabrics from our collections and made them into a shoe which was really exciting,” Simkhai tells BoF. “The combination of colours and fabrics definitely aren’t something that Reebok would typically do on their own.”
There is a special significance in using the Freestyle Hi, which was the first sneaker designed especially for women, introduced by Reebok in 1983. “The empowerment of women is so important to me, I wanted to do something that continues that legacy,” says Simkhai. “I reached out to them and said that we really wanted to do a collection together, inspired by these old photographs of athletics and a really beautiful colour palette. They were really supportive.”
The collaboration follows one with Vetements in 2016, an indication of Reebok’s strategy in tapping the luxury consumer. Both Adidas and Nike have enjoyed success in partnerships with high-fashion brands including Stella McCartney and Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci.
“This partnership is a natural match for Reebok and Jonathan Simkhai – two design-driven brands who share similar values and produce wearable designs for the modern woman,” Caroline Machen, senior director of brand communications at Reebok, tells BoF. “Reebok has always championed women in fitness. The Freestyle Hi was the first fitness shoe created for women, so we are delighted that this classic silhouette is being reimagined with Simkhai’s signature fabrics and colours.”
Simkhai says the reaction to the sneakers has so far been positive. “Everyone is so excited about them and the models at our fittings have been asking ‘Can we keep these? We love them.’”says Simkhai. “We’re definitely going to work with Reebok again, there is more to come.”