Is the Phase 1 Pro Reebok’s Most Underrated Silhouette?
With the retro dad-style shoe trend in full swing, it’s high time Reebok revisit one of their most underrated silhouettes: the Phase 1 Pro.
Originally introduced back in 1985 as a part of the brand’s inaugural lineup of tennis shoes, the Phase 1 Pro was billed as the first leather-constructed shoe that didn’t require any break-in time. Reebok were so confident in the claim, in fact, that they offered wearers a 21-day test run. A dissatisfied customer wouldn’t just get their money back, they’d also get a free can of tennis balls. It’s safe to say that Reebok didn’t end up sending out many cans of tennis balls.
One look at the three-decades-plus-old release and its appeal is obvious. Clean lines perfectly showcase Reebok’s signature Vector branding, while tech like an EVA midsole, removable sock liner cushion, moulded external heel counter, and durable rubber toe bumper gave wearers a leg-up during extended volleys and break points. Naturally, the technological advancements of future silhouettes would see the Phase 1 step away from the court, but its relatively simplistic look and not-too-sleek, not-too-chunky shape made it a near-flawless casual go-to in the decades to come.
Despite its status as a comfy, ready-to-go tennis shoe with casual good looks, the Phase 1 Pro has been dwarfed in recent years by its other, better-known 1985 brethren: the Newport Classic (now more often known as the ‘NPC’) and the Revenge Plus (now dubbed the ‘Club C’). Aside from a short-lived run of collaborations in 2016, the Phase 1 has mostly been relegated to also-ran status as the NPC and Club C have hogged the mid-80s tennis retro spotlight. However, thanks to the current love for the old school aesthetic, the time is right for the largely forgotten low-top to make a comeback to the forefront of the Reebok Classic lineup.
Below we take a look back at those 2016 Phase 1 Pro colabs as the silhouette gets ready to be dressed as a collaborative canvas once again.
Gosha Rubchinskiy x Reebok Phase 1 Pro
Russian fashion designer and photographer Gosha Rubchinskiy was one of the first designers to put his own spin on the Phase 1 Pro back in 2016. Released in a trio of clean white, grey and black colourways, the colab let the silhouette do the talking while bright orange embroidery across the heel showed Gosha’s stamp of approval.
Burn Rubber x Reebok Phase 1 Pro ‘Detroit Playas’
The Notorious B.I.G. may not seem like an obvious source of inspiration for a pair of mid-80s ‘Boks, but that’s exactly what we got from Burn Rubber with the ‘Detroit Playas’ edition of the silhouette. A nod to Biggie’s Life After Death standout ‘Hypnotize’, the colab was highlighted by faux pink gator skin and smooth suede.
Packer Shoes x Reebok Phase 1 Pro
Hailing from Teaneck, New Jersey, Packer Shoes celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2016 by dropping one of the cleanest Phase 1 models to date. Unique colour-blocking saw a black leather upper joined by white terry lining and matching hits to the heel, tongue and laces. A gum rubber outsole exuded retro vibes, while gold dubraes and lace tips recalled the look of 80s hustlers.
mita sneakers x Reebok Phase 1 Pro ‘Wood’
Japan’s mita sneakers took the Phase 1 in an unusual direction by applying a woodgrain finish to the upper in two different hues. The motif hit the shoe’s co-branded tongue badge, too, while grey suede, white accents, and gum rubber outsoles nodded to the timeless appeal of the silhouette.
Alife x Reebok Phase 1 Pro
New York’s Alife closed out 2016 by dropping a trio of Phase 1s of their own. Like Gosha before them, Alife’s collaborations came in grey, white and black colourways. Unlike the Rubchinskiy drop, however, these screamed Big Apple thanks to bold ‘NY’ hits to the heel and the ever-present Alife box logo.