Among its long list of accomplishments over the last 15 years, ALIFE came together with Reebok back in 2006 to create one of the most sought after sneaker collaborations of the decade. It came right around the time in which sneakerheads began turning to the digital realm as a safe haven to share their affinity with comrades around the globe. The result saw a tennis ball-like material and colorway applied to the Michael Chang’s Court Victory Pump silhouette, ingeniously dubbing it the “Ball Out.” As collaborative sneakers were a rare sight during this period, the “Ball Out” generated quite a bit of hype upon its release and still remains at the top of many “best of” lists. Now with a bevy of Reebok Pump collaborations having hit retail over the last 12 months, the two have aligned once again to release the “Re-Up” version.
With a release date slated for Saturday, December 13 at rivingtonclub.nyc, we sat down with Treis Hill of ALIFE to talk about the “Ball Out” rerelease, from the design process to its effect on the original’s legacy.
“Looking at the recent uses of tennis ball fabric on shoes, e.g. mita and Pharell, that took reference from our lead, it’s only fitting to come back with the sneaker that changed the game.”
What was the reason behind re-releasing this model rather than coming out with a new version?
Beyond celebrating 15 years as a brand, it was just time. So much has happened over the last eight years, not only for the brand but in sneaker culture as well. The shoe meant and still means so much to so many, so we felt it was time to bring it back. Also, looking at the recent uses of tennis ball fabric on shoes, e.g. mita and Pharell, that took reference from our lead, it’s only fitting to come back with the sneaker that changed the game.
What originally drew you to this particular silhouette?
It made perfect sense and was obvious, the shoe Michael Chang made popular, wrapped in the fabric of his sport.
How does the shoe speak to you on a personal level?
The shoe is arguably one of sneaker culture’s most talked about models. And to see the next generation and those that weren’t so lucky to have purchased them originally now have a second chance to do so is great to see.
When the original collaboration released, it was hugely popular and it’s still extremely sought-after to this day, did you ever think it would garner this much love?
We didn’t anticipate what it would mean to the culture at the time. It was released at the beginning of the craze, before all the hype. I feel it was at a time when the footwear corporations didn’t really understand the space we were in at the time. And soon after, collaborations became more frequent and less cherished. Which is why it’s still sought after to this day.
“The shoes are just as highly sought after today as they were eight years ago, and will continue to be. We’ve also kept the collector in mind, modifying the back heel hits, so there can’t be any complaints.”
What was the design process like working with Reebok?
Working with Reebok and Ryan Cross was great. We don’t work with just any footwear brand, we strive for authenticity and credibility. Reebok obviously embodies all of those characteristics.
How much free reign did you have in deciding what can be considered an unorthodox choice of material for a shoe?
Complete control. It was imperative. It doesn’t make any sense to collaborate if we had restrictions.
Do you think re-releasing this model will take away from its legacy?
Not in any way. These shoes are just as highly sought after today as they were eight years ago, and will continue to be. We’ve also kept the collector in mind, modifying the back heel hits, so there can’t be any complaints. So many people weren’t able to get them the first time around, perhaps they’ll have better luck this time.
Will this be the start of a longstanding partnership with Reebok? If so, what other models would you like to reimagine?
For sure. We’re excited to begin working with Reebok and adidas again as we have a lot of projects planned out. We’re excited for the future.