Oi Polloi

Reebok Reminiscin’ with Nigel

Published: Mon Jul 06 2015

Seeing as those Oi Polloi Reeboks are based on pair of Nigel’s old trainers (sadly unavailable for photography, hence the last minute artist's impression above), we thought we’d ask him to spin a yarn about his memories of Bolton’s premier sports shoe company. Nigel, take it away…

"The first time I saw a pair of Reebok trainers was in 1979. It was at Hazel Grove High School where I used to go running. I used to go running mainly so I could get running shoes. The sports teacher had some Reebok Gazelles, which were cross country racing shoes that were bright blue with orange lines. I was hooked. 

I think the first time I saw the white Reebok stuff like Workouts would have been round about ’82. They were always worn by people in swimming pools — I don’t know why, maybe they were wipe clean or something? I remember seeing the logo on the tongue that said made in England and I was like, “What, I didn’t know Reebok were made in England.”

Reeboks were worn by your scallies and your casuals. It was a real estate thing, but then the acid house people picked up on it, because it was an estate thing, and that’s when those white court shoes came in.

After the fallout of the Haçienda, around 1990, there was a bit of a renaissance of branded sportswear as opposed to the hippy rave gear. Before it was all purple and tie-dye and mad colours, but after that people started wearing grey sweatshirts, stonewashed tapered Levi’s jeans and white Reeboks. We’d go to a place called Spice that played Balearic music. I think Moonboots used to play there, Justin Robertson used to play there too. That’s when I started to collect all-white leather Reeboks.

I got a couple of pairs of NPCs from Bourne Sports. I had my shop in Affleck’s from 1989 to about ’93, and I’d go down to Bourne Sports and just rifle through his old warehouse. I’d pick up New Balance, I’d pick up Reebok, I’d pick up Asics — I’d pick up all sorts of unknown running shoes. I was buying dead-stock ones that were maybe five or six years old. They were out of date, but to me they were what trainers should look like and that’s what I sold in my shop. I probably got my first pair of NPCs from Bourne Sports, if not there, then maybe JD in the Arndale or Allsports in Stockport.

They’re sort of slammed at the front like an Impala. If you put them next to a ‘90s Stan Smith, which had ballooned and fattened-up all over the place, they had a sleek and smooth silhouette that you couldn’t get from adidas at the time. It’s one of my favourite Reeboks and it looks great with a grey sweatshirt and tapered jeans, which is funny — because now people like grey sweatshirts and tapered jeans again."

The Oi Polloi Reebok NPC UK II trainers will be available online and in our Manchester and Soho shops from 10:00am on Tuesday the 7th of July.