The birth of the Reebok Pump
The Reebok Pump was born out of a problem. In 1988, Nike took the lead in the sports world with Michael Jordan's Nike Air models. These models became successful because there was air in the sole, which gave you better cushioning while playing basketball. Reebok had to do something to stay successful, but how?
Paul Fireman, then the head of Reebok, wanted to design a sneaker that would put them back in the spotlight. He provided a team to make it happen.
Fireman's design team was looking for innovation that would put them on the same level as Nike's Air Jordan shoes. They came up with the idea of installing an inflatable bag inside the shoe. This bag will inflate itself with air, giving better support to the ankle. Reebok was sceptical at first because it looked a lot like a blood pressure monitor to them.
The design team made two prototypes. In one, the consumer could inflate the shoe himself, and in the other prototype the bag inflated itself while the wearer was walking. The head of the team tested these sneakers on the playground of a secondary school. The youngsters found it funny to keep inflating the shoe. The shoe became a kind of gimmick. By working with another designer, Paul Brown, the prototype was given a new look and became more of a basketball shoe.
In 1989, Reebok showed the shoe to the outside world for the first time. In November of that year, the shoe was launched for $170.00, which was a lot of money for a shoe at that time. The idea that you could inflate a shoe through the tongue of the shoe was unique and very innovative at the time. The Reebok Pump was so successful that in 1990, the New York Times wrote that if the shoe were its own company, it would be the fourth largest in the industry.
The different Reebok Pump models
Over the years, Reebok has incorporated the Pump mechanism in various models. Below is an overview of these models.
Reebok Pump Omni Zone II
The Reebok Pump Omni Zone II is a newer version of the very first Reebok Pump you see above. The Omni Zone II is a high top sneaker and is designed to play basketball. This model was also released in collaboration with basketball player Dee Brown.
Reebok Pump Court
The Reebok Pump Court is a lower basketball shoe. This model has no laces, but a hard plastic band on the instep, which gives the shoe a good connection.
Reebok Pump Supreme
The Reebok Pump Supreme is a thin and low model. The thin fabric allows your foot to breathe. You can clearly see the Pump element on this sneaker in a zigzag pattern. This model was also released in a collaboration with Vetements.
Reebok Pump Court Victory
The Reebok Pump Court Victory is a different variant of the Court. This basketball shoe is higher and has a longer tongue. The base of this shoe is mostly leather, but can change per colorway. On the tongue, you can recognize the round 'Pump' icon.
Reebok InstaPump Fury
The Reebok InstaPump Fury is very popular right now. The sneaker has come out in different colorways. What is so recognizable about this model is the 'Pump' element. The 'Pump' element is on the outside of the upper. Reebok also collaborated with Maison Margiela on this model and created an InstaPump Tabi Boot together.