Good collaborations should be about storytelling, not just with the physical product itself but even with its concept. Sure, that might seem like obvious information for some, but that isn’t as common of a practice as one might believe. Especially during a time when likes and follows on a social page dictate a lot of brands’ strategic moves, genuineness is usually the first thing to go out the window. Storytelling is what drives a simple idea or partnership into a whole new world that is created by the partners and inhabited by the public. This sense of organic narrative makes a collaboration between Nicole McLaughlin and Reebok such a great project that should be the baseline of all collaborations.
Nicole McLaughlin is a designer, but her start in the industry, just like her creations, was a bit unorthodox. She graduated from college in 2015 with a degree in digital media and a minor in graphic design. Shortly after graduating, she secured an internship with Reebok which helped grow her interest in fashion and streetwear. Going into a new industry completely dry without a lot of insight would be intimidating for most, but for Nicole, it only was a new avenue for creativity and opportunity. “I was just so clueless when I first started working there…A lot of the people that were in the internship program had degrees in design, but I just thought a lot of these things were interesting and cool, ” laughingly says Nicole McLaughlin in an exclusive interview with StockX. “But my time there is what got me into making stuff. Being surrounded by footwear and the amazing, cool people that work there really helped me understand how this industry works.” It was her time at Reebok that sparked her intrigue in footwear and sustainable fashion, leading her to a whole new set of career opportunities.
Being a designer for Reebok at the time, McLaughlin got a first-hand look at what it took to craft the products she worked on, humanizing the process and growing her appreciation for handmade items. She would use the scraps and leftover samples from past projects at Reebok to upcycle these goods and make new and unique creations. “So many cool elements that would be on half of a pair of shoes, that wouldn’t be used anymore, I would tear it apart and see what I can make out of it,” says McLaughlin. From there, she was able to create many Frankenstein-ed items that have caught the attention of publications within fashion and streetwear, such as Hypebeast, Vogue, and Footwear News to name a few.
This year, in a full-circle moment, Nicole McLaughlin was granted the opportunity to go back to where it all started and work alongside Reebok on her first sneaker collaboration. “The process for working on this sneaker was pretty seamless for the most part, I had a lot of help from friends and people that I still know at the company,” said McLaughlin. It’s not often that a collaborator gets to work with a company that was a former employer, which makes this partnership organic in its origin. Adding to the project’s organic nature is the sneaker itself, as its designs are an extension of Nicole McLaughlin’s interests and design practices.
The sneaker, which is her take on Reebok’s latest Club C Geo Mid, is inspired by the Reebok Etna Mid from 1996, as the elevated mudguard, black sole, and Vector logo are direct cues from the original shoe. But, McLaughlin added other elements to the shoe that align with her appreciation for hiking and the outdoors. “Technical-wear and outerwear are what I love to pull inspiration from, just due to the nature of how it’s made and its details,” says Nicole. From the reflective piping detail on the upper, to the netted pockets on the sides and heel, and the lace garage on the tongue, the sneaker is fully meant for outdoor exploration. This project between Nicole McLaughlin and Reebok connects multiple stories into one complete package, allowing the public to resonate with the story of circling back to your roots and creating something truly meaningful and original.
When reflecting back on the sneaker, Nicole really wants people to enjoy them the same way she would. “I’m really excited to see how people incorporate the sneaker into their lives. I really want people to wear them and get them dirty.” For those looking to take the shoes out for a spin and get some dirt on them, the Nicole McLaughlin x Reebok Club C Geo Mid was released today on StockX as a DropX exclusive. Proceeds from all transactions, less an 11% processing fee, will be donated to charity Sky High Farm, a New York-based nonprofit that works to ensure everyone has access to the resources they need to sustain themselves, including high-quality, culturally appropriate food.
Currently, the sneakers are sold out through our DropX, but are now open for trading. Keep your eyes glued to the product page for future listings from traders.