If your job involves taming velociraptors and stepping around triceratops feces, you’re going to want to make sure you have the proper footwear. What kind of sneakers might one wear to work if they worked in the treacherous industry of dinosaur-related entertainment? Reebok’s sneaker collaboration with Jurassic Park looks to answer that.
Jurassic Park made its its theater debut in 1993, and the Steven Spielberg-directed film has remained an influential franchise in pop culture. With themes and visuals that have aged pretty well given the era, it has earned its place in the bracket of ‘90s classics.
The series remains prolific, and the Jurassic Park franchise has found ways to grow. The films have undergone some revamping over the years with Jurassic World and now have a phyiscal destination via a real-life theme park in Orlando. Now, the familiar elements from the movies have found their way onto a collection of Reebok sneakers that just released this week.
We had the opportunity to talk to Bryan Cioffi, VP of footwear design at Reebok, about the direction he and the design team took for the Jurassic Park x Reebok collection. Cioffi offered insight on how the brand handled the project as well as some of its other recent collaborations. The conversation, lightly edited for clarity, appears below.
First thing first, how did this collaboration come to fruition?
We have a really good relationship with Universal. And honestly, it’s really fun when the team gets to meet with them. Because it has multiple properties, it’s sort of like a Hasbro thing. We’re good friends as a company and we’re able to go through the properties they have and when they brought Jurassic Park up, I think everybody internally got really excited because as we’ll talk about today, there’s so many collaborations that come out. How do you do something unique and original or hasn’t been done yet? And that was one that really excited us, not only from the nostalgia and we know that everybody kinda knows the movie, we got excited because no one had done the angle on Jurassic Park that I thought that we could do so that’s kinda how it worked and Universal has stayed an amazing partner with us.
I was looking at this collection and it made me want to learn about your creative process. How did you come up with the concepts of this collection of Reeboks? How did you conceive all these ideas?
Really the first thing I have to give credit to our design team. Chris Hill, Natalie Baron, they’re really masters at taking a subject matter and thinking about it in a different way then translating it to the shoe. But when we think about the design specifically, what they do is they really study the material. I’m sure Chris watched the movie, like we all had, a million times. Specifically on this one, Chris and I are both huge nerds, like, super nerds, and we don’t just focus on the sneakerhead aspect of it. That’s really cool. When you think of collabs it’s like, “How can we do the coolest sneakerhead angle?” We also wanted to make sure that it was people who love the movie and people who are collectors of pop culture.
So we just talked about it for a long time like, “What could we do that brands couldn’t?” or “What could we do that other brands wouldn’t?,” “How can we take a different angle at it?” And each of these sneakers is a little bit different. If it was a character that was iconic like Nedry, everybody knows Nedry, everybody knows Alan Grant. How could you do it and not be obvious? How can you make something still wearable and looks dope so it sits with the collaboration space where it’s really exciting to look at. The materials are amazing. The design’s really strong but how does it also tell a story? How does it sort of bring you to those obvious and not-so obvious character traits.
This is where Chris’ skill is really amazing. I don’t know many other designers that do this. A lot of designers have been trained and you can say “Okay, make me a Dennis Nedry shoe” and they would come in, get all the easter eggs, they’d make it cool. Chris makes it wearable. He makes it really cool but then he also imagines different things. One of my favorite ones in the collection is the Jurassic Stomper. He basically said, “Okay, what if instead of just doing a shoe based on a character, what if we reimagined the universe? We can do anything, it’s design. We can dream. What if the security guards that worked in Jurassic Park, this was part of their uniform?” That’s how he designed that one. It’s really fun that some are based on the Jeep ‘cause, come on that’s the most nostalgic, amazing thing. The Zig and the Fury are so amazing because they’re like the iconic pieces. Some of the characters, you get all the easter eggs from the characters, but then you get those ones that are reimagining the universe and for me that’s the first time I seen a big collection do a whole 360 like that. So it was really fun to see that process come together.
It’s like Chris Hill and the rest of the design team are taking abstracts of the movie and spinning it with Reeboks twist and merging itself into the world of Jurassic Park. When you did make shoes for Dennis Nedry, Alan Grant, and Ian Malcolm, what was it about these characters that you and the team thought, “This really stands out to me. I want to make a shoe off of this?”
I think there’s a hook to the character. What are those things that make them iconic that stand out that you remember? Nedry’s kind of a mess, right? He’s messy, that iconic scene with his desk. He’s got a real personality to him that you can pull pieces out that you can tell his story, but still make a cool wearable item.
When you see his shoe, a lot of his storytelling’s on the inside. The footbeds are these amazing illustrations that Natalie did, she’s this amazing illustrator, where it took all the easter eggs, things from his desk, things that are part of his story, I won’t ruin them, that are all there. There’s little nods and hints back to things that could be a funny little inside joke or something that could be Reebok, but all mixed in. It’s really cool when you get to work with the movie studio and you get to work with the team that did it because they’re able to give you all those really cool insights. Like the Alan Grant was amazing because the lining of the shoe is his handkerchief.
I know you mentioned a couple of details but are there any other hidden details you’d like to elaborate on?
There’s a couple of really cool ones. If you look at the Alan Grant shoe, where the window box usually is for “Reebok” that’s our normal logo. Chris put a break in that. It nods back to the scene in the beginning where they find the raptor. Where they have the radar go down to the raptor, it tells that earthquake scene and on the footbed there’s the raptor’s claw that he always talks about and tells the story to. If you pull the footbed out there’s a line across the top of the footbed that’s also an easter egg to where he’s talking to the little kid and talks about the razor claw from the raptor. Again, that’s one of the things that is really fun as a person that gets to look over the collection as it comes together. I feel like I have the best job in the world.
Chris will dream some things up and then we’ll talk about it then we’ll try to make each other laugh or stump each other on like, “You know what this easter egg is?” And Chris does it on purpose, he’s the master of this. He’s like, “I’m going to have easter eggs that no one’s ever gonna figure out” and you try to figure them out. I won’t ruin all of them, but they’re all there.
There’s a kids’ Zig that’s based on the actual goggles that they wear to see the tyrannosaurus rex. Where do you see the easter eggs on that one?
That’s pretty interesting. Not even I saw that on those Zigtechs.
That’s the other thing I really like about what we’re doing at Reebok now. We’re not doing one-offs or two-offs. We have thought about collaborations a little bit differently. We want to show the breadth of what the team can do. I feel like we’re telling a bigger, fuller story, so there’s something really for everybody. It’s not just your sneakerhead brother, there’s something there for your sister, there’s something if you have younger kids in the family. And then there’s easier ones to wear for people that just want a cool sneaker with cool materials.
There’s some people who really like things that are loud and for that you can definitely go towards the Ian Malcolm joints. But if you want to keep it subtle but have that Jurassic feeling to it, you can go with something like the Stomper.
At the end of the day, we’re making sneakers. It should be fun. It should make you smile. Everything doesn’t have to be serious, wait in line to resell it immediately on StockX. Which is amazing and we want to do that as well. We want to deliver that type of heat. At the same time though, it’s a sneaker. You should be like, “You know what? That makes me smile. I’m really excited about either collecting that or just buying and wearing it because it’s fun.” I think that, honestly…that’s Chris’ gift. Where he can do the whole thing. I don’t know a lot of other designers that can do it at the height and the level he does it at, but doing it across mens, womens, and kids. It’s really cool to see how he can do that.
It’s an interesting space seeing the Minions collaboration, the Wonder Woman collection and the Aliens and Ghostbusters collaboration as well. To add this to the list shows what collaborations can be. Can we expect any more movie projects from Reebok in the future?
We’ll have to wait. I’ll say this, there’s some heaters coming. You’ll be excited. The best thing I could say without giving anything away is that you see what we’re doing, and you see that we’re taking a little bit of a different angle to it. We want to continue that. We want to continue to surprise and make everybody happy with what we’re doing. Again, you’ve seen what’s come. You’ve seen Ghostbusters, Power Rangers, Minions, Nerf. What we’re gonna keep trying to do is surprise everybody with what we’re doing and not stay exactly in the same vein, but really hit that cool pop culture moment that maybe other places wouldn’t do. That’s what we think is our kind of niche and we’re gonna keep pushing that.