Is Nic Hayman the only Reebok Workout Collector in the World? |
Is Nic Hayman the only Reebok Workout Collector in the World?

Is Nic Hayman the only Reebok Workout Collector in the World?

There are different approaches to cultivating a sneaker collection. One way is to simply spend money on the latest hype releases, watch the boxes pile up and collect e-kudos here and there. Another option is to go completely against the grain and fall in love with a very specific silhouette that flies under everyone's radar. Nic from London has opted for the latter and amassed an impressive range of Reebok Workouts. Undoubtedly a unique collecting habit - so we just had to sit down with Nic to find out what his fascination with this underrated classic sneaker is all about.

Hello Nic, can you please introduce yourself? Who, what, where and why?
Hey, I'm Nic Hayman, I'm 26 and I'm from London. I've worked in footwear pretty much my whole career, first at Footpatrol and The Drop Date, and now I'm an editor at Looped, the sneaker division of ASOS. And why? I've always been interested in them, so it was only logical, I guess!

Of all the sneakers on the market, you collect the Reebok Workout - not your typical choice these days. When did you first become aware of the shoe and what memories do you have of it?
There was never really a specific moment, it was just always there. I have specific memories of seeing certain shoes for the first time, like my friend's dad with the Neon 95, or when the Air Max Plus came out, but the Reebok Workout has just been on the feet of people around me for as long as I can remember. It was very popular in my area - kids, adults, everyone just wore it as an everyday sneaker. He never had a big moment. I remember my best friend getting a pair of the standard white leather shoes and suddenly going all wild over them. I was jealous, man!

The Workout is a pretty simple shoe, not many layers, no fancy midsole, no crazy cushioning system and most importantly not a running or basketball shoe. Why did you fall in love with the shoe?
I like it because it's a blank slate, so to speak. It's underrated and it's a shoe I have good memories of, so I'll always have a place for it. In terms of design, it's not particularly fancy compared to a lot of other shoes you can collect today, but it doesn't go out of fashion, so it's a good one to stock up on. Imagine just getting excited about the Roshes when they first came out and collecting all the colours, and then watching your favourite shoe fade into obscurity. Workouts have been around long enough, so that's not going to happen.... I hope. As a lifestyle shoe, it's the perfect design: the flat sole hugging the upper, the exposed foam, the sharp shape when you look down on it, and of course the H-strap.

Comparable Reebok models like the Club C or the Classic Leather are now quite widespread and mainstream. How would you compare them to the Workout and why do you think it stands out?
I don't even know if the Workout really stands out, I think that's the reason it appeals to me. I feel like it's never had a mainstream moment like the Club C, and it's always been secondary to the Classic Leather as the ubiquitous cult shoe. It's had a journey between those two shoes - it's always been in the range, so it's never been raised from the dead to catch everyone's attention like the Club C, but it's also never been the flagship of the brand like the CL. It's just always been there, half under the radar, but always a hit. He needs some love, and I'm happy to give it to him!
Spread everywhere - Nic doesn't collect, he wears, so no problem with chaos.
A side effect of collecting Workout instead of Yeezys or Air Max is that you get special pairs for much less money. Is that right? Please tell us what goes on behind the scenes when you buy them.
Yes, for sure. Like I said, it never blew up like a lot of other shoes, so it's spared server crashes and queues most of the time. When the Calabasas Powerphases came out, though, I was afraid people would pounce on the workouts! So new releases are usually easy enough to grab. The lack of popularity makes it hard to find re-buy pairs, because a special edition Reebok Workout is not the same investment as an Off-White Vapormax or similar. When they do turn up, though, they're pretty damn cheap - I got the first Footpatrols for £50 the other day.

Are there many other people specifically looking for workouts, people with a similar appreciation for the shoe? Or is this a one man niche?
I honestly think it's a one-man niche, but I'm happy to be proven wrong if anyone wants to approach me. I've already converted a few people, including you! People appreciate the design similarly, but perhaps without the same sentimentality as I do.
25 Years of Collaboration - 24 Kilates, Packer Shoes, Footpatrol, Patta & SNS
The 25th anniversary collaborations are a milestone for the shoe. Do you have the urge to have them all or do you just pick what you like? And more generally, is this a collection or just the result of wanting to have more and more?
The 25th anniversary collaborations were incredible. Gary Warnett described it best when he said that the whole project came too soon. Making 15 different versions of the shoe and releasing them all on the same day - it's like the adidas Consortium 2016 World Tour in one launch! It definitely missed the peak of the collaboration obsession that came a few years later, but I loved the whole thing. I remember this microsite with Highsnobiety where they would reveal a new make-up every few days during the month leading up to the launch. I was always on the site to see the next pair and find out who had done it. They also had a competition going. They wanted people to make something that defined 'Your Workout' and post it on Facebook, and whoever got the most likes won 3 pairs from the collection. I was trying so hard, man. I did all these shoots with everyone I knew wearing the workouts. I asked everyone in my friends list to like the poster I had made. But it worked because I won the whole damn thing! I think that was the start of me getting special editions of the shoe, but I wouldn't call it collecting and it's definitely not unconditional love - there were some stinkin' versions of that project, I definitely don't need to own them all, haha!
More Collaborations - Horween, Garbstore, Mita Sneakers, Footpatrol
Which are your favourites and why? Please name three.
Difficult! I think my absolute favourite is the orange GORE-TEX pair. They are very special to me and insanely rare. I remember we did a shoot for the release when I was on The Drop Date, and even 3 years later it was one of the most visited pages on the whole site. I can't believe they were never made, we only had the sample from pre-production. But it was my size and I got them - thanks Ry! Next, I think it's the Sneakersnstuff edition from the 25th. Simple, but insanely luxurious. Moose leather on a Reebok Workout - incredible. Then I think it's the second Garbstore collaboration of 2016. The collaboration with Reebok is so good, and this 'OK' collection luckily included workouts because I missed the first one. Super tasteful, lots of nice details and a bit odd.
Gore-Tex Protects
What's missing from your workout 'collection'?
What I'm missing at the moment is my Solebox 'Tilapia' pair from 2012, which I can't find anymore! When I get home I have to search the whole wardrobe for them. Hopefully I haven't lost them, they cost €500, ha! I wish I had the first Garbstore models from the "Inside Out" collection - they were amazing. There were also some really sick Size? hiking SMUs from back in the day. But probably most of all the original Palace models. They were awesome.

Does it make a difference if a shoe is really rare, if it's a collaboration or a general release?
I think if you already like it, it makes it a bit more special. As I said, I love my GORE-TEX shoes, but the fact that they've never been made makes them that much more precious to me. Collaboration - no. I think collaborations can bring out the best or the most adventurous in design, but I'd just as soon wear my Chalk Vintage leather pair as any of the wilder models.
The SNS 25th anniversary design with elk leather
What do you think about the current hype around sneakers? Are people like you getting back to basics and appreciating the simple things or is the hype getting bigger and bigger?
Maybe... maybe I'm just getting older! To be honest, I've never been a fan of hype. Nothing would make me queue up outside overnight - it's just shoes. I guess it makes sense that I'm into a style that doesn't require that often. It always comes down to how well you tell a story and if the product is behind it. Any Skepta x Nike collaboration would create hype, but the storytelling around this launch was incredible. It deserved the hype, and that makes sense to me. I think less special projects with a better story is the way forward. I don't get it when shoes are named after food or a medieval painting or some shit and people go crazy for it. What meaning does that have for you? If you like spaghetti bolognese, it doesn't mean you should wear that on your feet. In the same way, I don't understand the hype if the product is bad but the story or the staff are great.

Any last words?
Thank you to all the people who have made and continue to make it possible for me to make a living with shoes. And anyone out there with a great selection of UK8 Workouts for sale - get in touch!

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