I was extremely happy to see David Foster post up some of his memories of one of the last Reebok shoes handmade in Bolton, UK. Even happier as the Fjell series – particularly for their matching colourways and innovative tech – are some of my all-time favourite Retroboks – alongside some other personal favourites such as the PB and World Best.
It was a bittersweet time for Reebok as a company, as the transition to it becoming a completely USA-based was by then nearly complete. Hit the jump to read Davids’ annotations on the Fjells and a range of related shoes, back in the late 1980’s. Retrobok hopes to garner more from Davids’ memory in time.
With thanks to Stephen at Reebok Shoe Archive for some of the images below. —BokOne
All text below by David Foster —
Davids’ Introduction : “Some nice old picture of the last Reeboks designed and made in the Bradley Fold, Bolton Factory. Many thanks to Retrobok and Reebok Shoe Archive for some of the pictures.” —David Foster, 4th December 2014.
“Fjell runner, used a two colour extruded PVC material, we had used quite a bit on tennis and fitness shoes from ’87. We had to import it in rolls from Korea. The EVA midsole was from Vibram in Italy and the upper material was a brand new Clarino material that came all the way from Japan, the rest came from the UK and was cut, sewn and lasted in Bolton. This was the last shoe made on the MM1714 last, that was first used on AZII (Aztec II) in ’82. Reebok still use a version of this for the Classic Leather (94-3A)”
“(The) Fjell Racer was built on a brand new last we developed for spikes and racing shoes and featured on the PB Racer, you can see the same toe kick and long classic lateral. I also dipped the facing in the middle to give it a kick and the Arrow curves up at the front. I remember being very happy withe the retro toe bar that curved over the big toe to be an integral protector. The forefoot ‘Brown Pull’ stability system also covered the seam ‘cute’ detailing.”
“This is the original mould drawing for the Fjell series. Originally to have a side flap, this was dropped as the EVA midsole was changed from moulded to die cut. The flap was another design feature of aerobic and fitness styles we were making in Asia.”
“Contour II. The first Contour was an exact copy of the Fjell Racer, substituting the nylon upper for non-absorbing urethane, from Germany. In the II series we moved to direct embroidered logo and bigger straps but i think it lost much of the flair of the mark one.”
“PB racer, you can see it shares the tail on the facing, long lateral and flick on the front of the arrow.”
“AZII (Aztec II), was the first Reebok to use the MM1714 last, it was a big change from the Aztec it replaced, all the upper materials were the same but it had a Cambrelle comfort lining, a conforming footbed, and lost the speed lacing for a new staggered lacing system. We made thousands of these babies in the ’80’s – it must have been the longest running design by the time the UK factory was shut down.”
“(The) World Best was the follow on to the PB. It used the same last, originally developed for the Fjell Racer, you can see how we actually took the Fjell Runner upper design and modified the colour of the shoe. in a last minute change the shoe switched back to the traditional lateral, in two colours, navy and silver (the picture shoes these behind the arrow) then changed again at the front. To me it was always a half-way house, but the rest of the shoe is well executed.”
Read more about David in the following Retrobok features :
Interview — David Foster
Classic Leather — 30th Anniversary interview with David Foster