Joe and Jeff Foster
Reebok International Limited, a subsidiary of German sportswear giant Adidas, is a producer of athletic footwear, apparel, and accessories. The name comes from the Afrikaans spelling of rhebok, a type of African antelope or gazelle. The company, founded in Bolton, England in 1895, was originally called J.W. Foster and Sons but was renamed Reebok in 1958. The company's founders, Joe and Jeff Foster, found the name in a dictionary won in a race by Joe Foster as a boy; the dictionary was a South African edition, hence the spelling.
Reebok surged in popularity in 1982 after the introduction of the Freestyle athletic shoe, which was designed for women and came out when the aerobics craze started. Not only was the Reebok Freestyle popular as athletic wear, but also as casual wear. As a result the Freestyle became an icon of the 1980s fashion scene with hi-top versions (including two velcro straps at the top) and colors, including white, black, red, yellow, and blue. Reebok continues to produce the Freestyle as it is popular with cheerleading, aerobic dancing, the gym and consumers.
Following the Freestyle success, Reebok also introduced an athletic shoe for men, called the Ex-O-Fit. Similar to the Freestyle, it came in low-top and hi-top versions; however, unlike the Freestyle hi-top with two velcro closure straps, the Ex-O-Fit only had one strap. One of the designers of this early footwear was the founder's son, David Foster.
In the past, Reebok had an association with outsourcing through sweatshops, but today it claims it is committed to human rights. In April 2004, Reebok's footwear division became the first company to be accredited by the Fair Labor Association. In 2004, Reebok also became a founding member of the Fair Factories Clearinghouse, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving worker conditions across the apparel industry.
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