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Reebok is reintroducing the Pump, its inflatable sneakers that were one of the company’s most popular products after they were originally marketed in 1989. Reebok is bringing back the Pump to try to revive the brand’s image, which declined in the 1990s when Nike became more popular.
The technology in the original Pump was developed based on rare ski boots and inflatable splints. The bladders were manufactured in a medical device factory.
When the Pump was introduced, basketball was wildly popular. Reebok marketed the inflatable shoes to appeal to athletes. Reebok sold 4 million pairs of Pumps in the first 18 months and later created inflatable shoes for golf, baseball, and tennis.
The new inflatable shoe is called the ZPump Fusion. It resembles other sneakers, with a seamless mesh upper and a lightweight and thin sole. It uses the original Pump’s air-bladder design that adapts to fit each person’s individual foot. Most running shoes have 46 parts, but the ZPump Fusion has only three: the ZRated outsole, an inflatable Pump membrane to cover the middle of the foot, and a seamless sleeve upper.
The ZPump Fusion is structureless when it is not inflated. After the wearer puts it on and inflates it, the shoe molds itself to the shape of that person’s foot. The number of pumps necessary to inflate the shoe will vary from person to person.
Reebok is targeting a new market with its ZPump Fusion shoes. It calls them “Fit Gen-ers,” a group that includes runners, CrossFitters, UFC mixed martial artists, and Spartan Racers. The new inflatable shoes can be manufactured at a much lower cost than the original Pump.