For a brief period in the 1980s, Reebok was the biggest sneaker brand in the US.
The decade saw Reebok surge ahead of its competitors on a wave of demand for fitness and aerobics products. Reebok’s Freestyle sneaker, released in 1982 as the first fitness shoe designed specifically for women, became the hottest seller in the business. Workout guru Jane Fonda adopted them, and actress Cybill Shepherd wore a pair on the red carpet at the 1985 Emmy awards. By 1987, Reebok had surpassed Nike in the US.
But by 2005, when Adidas bought Reebok, the company was far from the force it used to be. It was still a formidable presence in the sneaker world, however, and the purchase had the potential to reshape the industry. The $3.8 billion buyout allowed Adidas, based in Germany, to roughly double its US sales and combine its strengths with Massachusetts-based Reebok. In theory, the deal gave the united companies the might to take on Nike in the valuable US market.
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