The 80s were a decade of excess. The music was over-produced, the movies were over-dramatic, the cars were over-the-top, and the sneakers were over-sized. The Reebok line of this era was no exception. Their line of Classic Leather sneakers ran about a half size too big, had an incredibly long toe box, and had the same material used in their running shoe line. This gave them a soft comfortable ride but left them looking bulky and unattractive.
Not to be outdone by Nike’s popular Air Force 1 line of this era, Reebok released their version in 1982 called the Freestyle Hi. This shoe featured a similar silhouette but did not have the visible Air Force 1 style sole that Nike sported on its’ shoes of the same line. The Freestyle Hi came in a variety of colors and styles but are most known for their use on Shaquille O’Neal’s feet.
The Freestyle Hi was Reebok’s best-selling sneaker of the 80s and was so successful that it launched a line of other Classic Leather sneakers including a low-top version, a high-top version, and even a women’s version called the Jazz Lo. The Jazz Lo featured an image of the Statue of Liberty on the side to distinguish itself from its male counterpart.
Reebok released the Club C 85 sneaker in 1985. The sneaker was fit with a new midsole and outsole and featured a look that was very similar to the Reebok Freestyle.
The shoe was made with mesh on the upper, laces, and tongue. The shoe was also made with synthetic suede overlays and a rubber toe cap.
The shoe utilized an EVA midsole that was laced into an external heel counter. The midsole was very firm compared to most of the popular sneakers at the time. The outsole featured large circular pegs which gave the sneaker a unique look but may have been one of the reasons why this model did not take off as many of Reebok’s other models did around this time.
In the 1980s, there was a lot of competition from the other big-name sports companies like Nike, Adidas, and Fila. Reebok had a hard time holding on to its market share. The company had to come out with some great sneaker designs to stay competitive.
The Club C 85 never really took off like Reebok had hoped it would. The shoe was worn by a few celebrities but overall it did not do very well in the sneaker collecting market.
Here are the top Reebok shoes in the 1980s
Reebok Classic Leather
The Reebok Classic Leather was a “running shoe” style sneaker with a very high cut like the Asics GT 2000, and a padded collar. The toe box of the shoe was huge, and the material on the sides gave it an overall bulky look. The inside of the shoe had a removable sock liner that could be replaced by more color options. The sole was unique to this shoe line, as it had a tan crepe sole with treads on both the front and back. This made these shoes great for running and practicing martial arts, but not so great for walking around town.
Reebok Royal Classic
The Reebok Royal Classic sneakers were similar to the “Classic” in design but with more color options. This model featured more of a low-top design with an exposed ankle that made it easier to slide on than its predecessor.
The heel tab also featured two straps instead of one that gave it an extra touch of 80s flair. They were released in black/white/red (shown), white/black/orange, and black/black/white options. They have also been released in women-only styles with royal blue replacing the black.
Reebok Royal Court
The Reebok Royal Court sneakers were the women’s version of the “Royal Classic.” They featured a low-cut design, an exposed ankle, a unique tongue, and solid-colored uppers. They were made with white and royal blue uppers with pink accents and patterned insoles.
The heel tab featured two straps that were attached by a large metal snap. This made them easier to get on and off, but also made them look very bulky. They also came in a women-only version with royal blue replacing the white. The model shown is the white/royal blue version.
The C85 was a very unique 1980s Reebok model. It featured a solid white upper with colored accents and an asymmetrical lace design. The shoe also featured a high cut, an exposed ankle, and side accents on the heel tab. The material on the sides made the shoe very bulky and heavy.
The sole of the shoe had a leather crepe bottom with treads on both the front and back of the sole. They were released in royal blue/white/red, black/white/yellow, black/red/orange, and black/white/pink colorways.
The Reebok Pump sneakers were released at the end of this decade in 1989-1990, but are still considered to be part of this era because they do not fit into any other category. This was Reebok’s first attempt at creating a shoe that could be used for sports performance and casual wear.
These sneakers were designed like running shoes, with a soft EVA midsole, padded collar for comfort, replaceable sock liner that could be replaced by more color options – like a cross between Nike’s Air Force Ones and their running shoes of this era.
They featured a crepe sole with treads on both the front and back of the shoe. They came in red/white/blue, black/white/silver, grey/white/gold, and black/white/purple color ways.