Kendrick Lamar and Future Are Redefining Reebok’s Classic Sneakers

When Reebok signed L.A. rapper Kendrick Lamar to a deal at the end of 2014, there was no guarantee it would work. Lamar was popular and only getting more so, but he had also rapped, “I ain’t wearing no more designer shit / White tees and Nike Cortez,” less than a year earlier in what many considered to be the verse of the year. It’s not like no one heard it. Two years later, the brand inked Future, and once again, there were doubts. But like Future said on another hit with another rapper, them boys up to something.

Try to even think of Kendrick Lamar wearing a pair of Cortez now. You can’t. That’s because in the two years since he signed with Reebok, he’s become near-synonymous with the Classic Leather, another simple runner with L.A. connections. His gang unity versions of the shoe sold out immediately, which allowed Reebok to release an even broader collection. He did a Ventilator first (as well as a yet-unreleased Club C), but it’s the Classic Leather that’s “Kendrick’s shoe.” His endorsement has given the circa-1983 runner new life by connecting it to a culture and a cause.

The brand hopes that Future can do the same for 1994’s Instapump Fury. A cult classic in Asia since its launch, the Fury has been a tough sell in America—whether it’s a matter of pricepoint or style. Reebok has tried lots of things, from reissues to ultra-limited collaborations (most recently 20 of them for its 20th anniversary in 2014), but the Fury has remained a very niche shoe. It also happened to be the silhouette that Future gravitated to immediately at his first meeting with the brand, according to a Reebok executive. The “Overbranded” Instapump Fury, which released this week, is the first time they’ve paired Future with the sneaker—and it’s getting a positive response.

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