If I were to describe the Reebok Club C 85 in one word, it’d be “inescapable.” Everywhere I go, whether it’s the farmer’s market, Target, or the local bike trail, I see this old-school leather tennis shoe. When I reach for my phone to scroll through my Instagram feed, I see them on nearly every influencer in my Discover tab. The Reebok Classics mainstay is an unassuming leather sneaker, but its clean toothpaste-white colorway, along with its eggshell Vintage spinoff, makes it an attractive go-to for sneakerheads, trendy hipsters, and streetwear junkies alike.
After seeing the Reebok Club C 85 for so long, I finally came down with a case of FOMO, thinking wait, why don’t I have a pair? The cynic in me doesn’t want to believe that something so omnipresent is actually good… but there must be a reason for its rise to fame in the first place? I had to find out. Not sure I wanted to commit, I contacted Reebok to ask for a pair of the Club C 85 Vintage, which retails for $80, for me to test out over a weekend.
What is the Reebok Club C 85?
Reebok first introduced the Club C, then known as the Revenge Plus, in 1985. It was created during the sneaker market’s rising interest in performance tennis shoes during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and quickly became a hit, on the court and streets alike. The company cites the Revenge Plus as being an integral part of Reebok owning “22% of the American tennis shoe market” at the time, according to the historians at Reebok Archive.
In 2016, Reebok, apparently feeling a wave of nostalgia, rereleased four popular models from its 1980s tennis shoe heydey: the Revenge Plus, which it rebranded to the Club C 85; the Phase 1 Pro (which retained its original name); and the Newport Classic, which was rebranded to the NPC and the NPC UK in Great Britain. All four sneakers share PU-coated action leather and a mostly white colorway. Since its market reintroduction, the Club C 85 has remained the company’s bestselling throwback tennis shoe. Its been a go-to model for multiple collaborations—the unassuming jjjjound x Reebok (not a typo) being the most famous—and has been consistently selling out at retailers like Pacsun, J.Crew, and DSW. It’s also a popular shoe on Instagram as well as Reddit, where it’s frequently cited as being one of the most versatile white shoe and a solid alternative to expensive leather sneakers.
Today, the Club C 85 still sells strong as a mainstay of Reebok Classics line. A look at the shoe’s landing page shows a range of Reebok Club C 85 collaborations with brands like National Geographic, Jelly Belly (yes, the candy company), and Japanese menswear retailer BEAMS. Aside from the classic gum-soled Club C 85, Reebok also sells the Club C 85 Revenge Legacy, which features your choice of colored stripes on the original white silhouette; the Club C 85 TV, a premium version of the shoe with better genuine leather; and a Vintage version of the original Club C 85 and its Revenge Legacy models, which have yellow-tinted outsoles and an off-white upper. The basic Club C 85 retails for $70 in unisex and women’s sizes.
For this review, I took a look at the popular Reebok Club C 85 Vintage, which retails at $80 and has an eggshell-colored upper and yellow-tinted outsoles, in a unisex (men's) size 11.5. The shoe is also available in women’s sizes for $80.
What I like about the Reebok Club C 85 Vintage
In my experience, casual pleather and PU-coated leather sneakers, like the Nike Cortez and Adidas Stan Smith, are uncomfortable. They often have flat insoles, unpliable uppers, and are made of plastic material that doesn’t breathe, keeping the feet so warm they feel like they’re trapped in a sauna. That said, I’m surprised to say that Reebok’s Club C 85 Vintage is an exception.
This sneaker offers comfort where it matters. The thick padding down the tongue feels terrific when the shoes are laced up. The inside of the ankle collar is lined with a soft and plush terry cloth—a throwback detail that feels nice against the skin when worn with no-show socks and adds to the 85 Vintage’s sporty look. Although the insole lacks arch support, it's lined with extra cushioning that lends pillowy support underneath the entire foot. The padding located on the interior side panels of the foot cradles it in more plushness. The pleather material also has perforation on the upper and tongue, providing a measure of breathability.
But of course, the hype around these shoes isn’t for their comfort, it’s for their looks, and these sneakers look great. Unlike the original Reebok Club C 85s, which have a pristine all-white silhouette, the 85 Vintage has a creamy off-white upper and a yellow-tinted outsole. This adds to their vintage charm, but it also makes them great beaters—shoes to throw on, beat up, and wear out completely—because they won’t look unevenly dingy like all-white shoes are wont to become.
I wore my pair of Club C 85s over the course of a weekend. At the start of it, I couldn’t believe how good they looked on my feet—they made every outfit I wore feel spiffier. But more surprising was how much better the shoes looked at the end of my weekend, somewhat dirtied and unkempt. With typical white sneakers, like Nike Air Force 1s and the Reddit-famous Common Projects Achilles Lows, there’s an instinct to keep them pristine, carefully minding your step around grass and mud, and staying on high alert for any obstacles that may threaten the condition of your shoes.
The Reebok Club C 85, however, throws that impulse out the window. They already have a worn-in look about them, so there isn’t a need to keep them tidy. The dirtier and more beat up these shoes look, the more natural they feel. In this day and age, where shopping for vintage rags of yesteryear is so wholly embraced, these shoes feel very on-trend.
And that leads me to my favorite part about these shoes: They’re an easy choice. If you’re wondering how to style the Reebok Club C 85 Vintage, the answer lies in your closet—these shoes go with practically anything. They’re very similar to Converse Chuck Taylors in that sense, and they look just as great in jeans as they do a pair of chinos or shorts, but their low profile makes them even more compatible for year-round wear. Coupled with the fact that they’re not a pair of shoes you’ll want to keep super clean, they feel like a go-to for any occasion, and in my opinion, that’s the best kind of “white” sneaker.
What I don’t like about Reebok Club C 85 Vintage
Similar to other casual sneakers that come in "unisex" sizing, these run slightly narrow—at least for me, a person with wide feet. I got my normal size of an 11.5 and wish I went up a half or full size up for a roomier fit. The 85 Vintage feels truer to that of typical unisex sizing, which means they run about a half to full size smaller than what I’d expect—this may also explain its narrowness. This isn’t a dealbreaker for me, as I still find them to be comfy, but I wish I had a little wiggle room for my toes. The shoe is only available in one standard width.
To be fair, Reebok recommends that if you're in between sizes, you should go one full size down for a tighter fit, and go one full size up for a looser fit. Based on that advice, I should've gone with a 12.5 here.
Is the Reebok Club C 85 Vintage worth it?
I can’t think of a better white shoe under $100 to add to your wardrobe rotation than the Reebok Club 85 Vintage. Although it’s not truly a pristine white casual sneaker, it has the function of one with the ability to spiff up any outfit and go with practically everything. These sneakers hinge on an old-school cool that feels contemporary among today’s thrifted garbs, and their comfortable cushioning and padding makes them feel a cut above other heritage shoe models. For $80, this easygoing sneaker feels like a casual essential. I now understand what the hype is about—call me a fan.
Get the Club C 85 Vintage in unisex sizes from Reebok for $80
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.