Which of the following shoe companies is named after an African animal?

Considering Nike, Reebok, Converse and Adidas, the answer is: Reebok.

The grey rhebok is a type of antelope native to southern Africa. In 1958, the shoe company Reebok was founded in England by a pair of brothers. They named the company after the animal, due to a favorite childhood book from South Africa.

A grey rhebok. Photo courtesy: Animalia.bio.

Before Nike reigned supreme, there was another sneaker forerunner: Reebok. Born into a line of athletic footwear giants (grandsons to the inventor of the athletic track spike, J.W. Foster), Joe and Jeff were brothers with a point to prove. As such, they drew from their knowledge of athletic shoes (and love of the African animal) to create Reebok.    

Photo credit: Grailed.com

At first, Reebok continued to produce primarily running spikes. Although they enjoyed moderate success, something greater was yet to come: the fitness fad of the 1980s. In the decade of aerobics and tennis, the need for athletic footwear skyrocketed – and so, too, did sales for Reebok. Not only were the shoes sleek and reasonably priced, but they were fashionable off the playing field as well. By 1988, Reebok's sales topped $1.8 billion, and controlled a whopping 26.7 percent of the athletic footwear market. The company even bested Nike’s $1.2 billion in revenue.

Throughout the rest of the 20th century, sales continued to dip in and out as the brand competed with Nike and other rising athletic brands. Today it remains a forerunner in athletic footwear, with a cultural footprint to match.

Learn more about the history of Reebok here.

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