LA Gear also did it circa 1988, calmly cutting out the Reebok nameplate and replacing it with a silver stitched LA Gear. The brazenly ‘original’ tag features a wannabe Jane Fonda perkily perched in her sweatband and leggings! Credit where it’s due, at least LA Gear had various models and substantial success in the girly category where Nike failed. This whole aerobics mess has probably been one of the few serious black eyes for the #1 sneaker giant. For whatever reason, Nike simply failed to capture the lucrative female market’s attention at this time and was caught completely offside by its enduring power, the memory of which still rankles senior Nikers to this day (and probably explains the Aerofit).
Reebok were still flying, so they probably couldn’t care less, and they continued to pump out new colourways, fabrics and threads in hope of keeping tight with the market. The ‘Double Bubble’ is my hands-down favourite Freestyle and features three velcro straps rather than the standard two straps, making your ankles look scarily similar to the Michelin Man! Despite the fact that the Freestyle had successfully crossed the line from fitness to fashion, the slow death of the aerobics era signalled a steady decline. As the ‘90s loomed, slimline gym get-up lost its fans to CK and hi-tech bulky gear. Nike fought back hard with its compelling Cross Trainer series and detours for the women into myriad categories such as cheerleading, walking, volleyball (Air Digs!) and a thousand models all desperate to catch the eye. Even Reebok struggled. After a decade of success, they couldn’t deal with the change in mood.
In a last-ditch attempt to regain the glory days of ’82, Reebok swallowed all its pride and produced a platform version of the Freestyle, complete with patent glitter finish. They had Spice Girls written all over them, but even the fake five wouldn’t wear the once original British icon. Yup, Reebok’s days as the hottest of hot were over and things remained dim with virtually no brand spankin’ Freestyle releases until last year, by which time the once mighty ‘Bok was now owned by adidas.
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