Adidas have done it, Nike tried, failed and tried again, and now it is Reebok‘s turn to take on the skateboard industry in a bid to shoe the culture.
Essentially, skateboarders have used the aforementioned companies’ product, but admitting the fact is a different kettle of fish all together. Adidas have the Stan Smith, Nike the Dunk, and Reebok the Workout Lo and if the shoe fits wear it!
Reebok came to the table with a clever marketing strategy by focusing their attention on one key player of Skateboarding’s strongest currents: Stevie Williams, street skater supreme. Not only did Reebok incorporate Stevie into their vamped up ‘I am’ campaign, they also decided to co-brand a line of skate shoes with Stevie’s Dirty Ghetto Kid company, DGK. It has been gathering speed over the last couple of years, and finally the finished product is ready to hit European shores. Naturally, Crossfire saw what was coming and test rode a pair of Reebok alias RBK Workout Lo DGK Int’s.
Straight away these kicks look ‘gangsta’. No kippered, slim trim, space boot design here- Purely aesthetic genius blending a classic shoe and a contemporary social identity. The gum sole, flash white uppers and metal tipped laces will have the local hoods green in envy. The pair I got to test was made of leather, but I know that suede models are also available.
Personally, I don’t like leather skate shoes because it takes a good few hours of griptape abrasion before friction starts to result in board control. This case was no exception as I battled it out with frontside nollies and switch backside 180’s and managed a total of 3cm levitation. My usual pop at these tricks has me floating somewhere around the 30cm mark (Chill and check me out!). Once the leather was broken in and scraped, board control regained full momentum and I was off the ground in no time.
Now, normally when a big shoe company re-releases a ‘skate’ version of a successful predecessor, the major differences lie in the padding. I’ve tried a pair of OG Workout Lo’s on, and honestly I don’t find all that much extra padding with it’s modern counterpart, the Workout Lo DGK Int’s. I would have thought Stevie wanted a fat tongue on his shoes at least… The padding isn’t the root to the problem though.
The real risk is in the ankle support. Most modern skate shoes understand the importance of heel support and apply collar design and padded tongues to prevent pain. However, these shoes don’t, so once the footwear is broken in a bit, your foot has a tendency to slip and suffer. Luckily, the sole is flat and wide in the fore-foot and heel areas, so this minimises proper ankle tweakage. Phew!
Actually, the soles to these skate shoes are probably the best thing they have going for them. I rode these shoes for a month, solid and the sole hardly budged. Even the side where ollies afflict irreparable damage was virtually unscathed. Add to this the fact that they’re made in solid gum and you’re gripping good like you’re feeling good. If only as much chemical compound had been put into the uppers.
The stitching and thickness of the leather on the Workout Lo DGK Int’s really isn’t sufficient for someone rubbing sandpaper against them on a daily basis. After a month, holes had appeared and I knew that they would grow rapidly. The biggest surprise though in rigidity came from the laces! Everyone knows that skate shoe laces are the first things to pop, and there is no cure for this hindrance. (At least until lace-savers become fashionable again…) Reebok have found the perfect placement for their lace hoops so as to prevent thread shred and keep the shoe together.
So, my conclusion on Reebok’s seminal attempt to produce a contemporary skate shoe runs as follows: Top score in design and style. Why risk creating something new when the classic model worked?
Another top score goes to the sole compound, because tougher than this is rare. However, a poor score for the leather and ankle support. I reckon a baby blue pair in suede and gum will have a few major skate shoe designers in awe.