When I told my boss Susan that I wanted to do a review of the newly relaunched Reebok ZPump Fusion sneakers, she told me I had to “truly understand” their significance. Being 10 years apart, there are many pop culture references of hers that I just don’t get. (Will you let it go about the Zack Morris phone already? Gosh.) So I made it my new mission to become a pump sneaker expert. If you’re as clueless as me, these fun facts will catch you up to speed:
1. Reebok first launched their Pump technology in 1989 (26 years ago, I wasn’t born yet) with the focus on customizing fit.
2. The massive success of the pump sneaker was the only time that Reebok ever “beat” Nike in sales and popularity.
3. Though Reebok executives claimed they weren’t competing with Nike, the commercial starring Dominique Wilkins to introduce them says otherwise. The slogan, “Pump Up and Air Out,” is such an obvious dig at Nike’s Air Jordans.
4. There’s also the Reebok versus Nike bungee jump commercial that was banned. If you watch it, you can see why. It basically implies that if you wear Nikes, while bungee jumping, you will die. Whoops.
4. In 1991, Dee Brown famously upstaged Michael Jordan’s 1988 Slam Dunk Contest performance. He pumped up his sneakers before every shot, making sales skyrocket.
5. In the 18 months after it’s launch, over four million pairs were sold. That’s pretty impressive considering that they cost $170 (or $320 today) per pair.
6. Of course, no massively successful product has truly made it without a few parodies. This SNL skit from 1990 stars Chris Rock pumping up a Thanksgiving turkey and it’s pretty hilarious.
7. The pump style sneakers have actually never gone away. There’s been plenty of versions over the years, such as the 2009 Orchard Street collaboration.
8. That same year, rumors circulated that Kid Cudi was tasered after wearing “Jordans” to a Reebok party. He claimed it was nothing against Reebok. Drama!
Now, for the latest version–the Reebok ZPump Fusion ($109). It has an internal pump bladder so it’s a lot sleeker than it’s predecessors and it comes in a variety of colors. That means it fits perfectly with the “athleisure” trend that’s hot right now. As for where it fits in the sports world, Reebok is going after crossfit and UFC athletes instead of basketball players this time around.
I also decided to try the newest version out for myself. I have to admit that I spent an obnoxious amount of time pumping them up, letting the air out, and doing it all over again. It’s fun! Just watch below.
After I was done acting like a 5-year-old with a new toy, I used them for what they’re made for: a workout. After a five-mile run, I was impressed. They’re incredibly comfortable because of the lightweight, seamless compression fabric and because they inflate around the contours of your feet. They feel more like comfy socks than like a shoe, which I really appreciate on a long run. I also wore them to an aerobics-style workout with my favorite fitness lady Christine Bullock and became a big fan.
Workouts aside, I’ve been wearing them all over town since I got them. Again, the athleisure trend is in right now, so I’m taking full advantage of it. If you’re in the market for a new athletic shoe, I say why not give these a try? If anything, try them purely for the sake of nostalgia. My boss would be proud.