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Nepenthes New York Is About to Drop Its First Sneaker

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Nepenthes New York Is About to Drop Its First Sneaker

Reebok classic white sneakers

Introducing the Reebok Workout Plus done the Garment District way.

Garment District boutique Nepenthes New York is an essential destination for fans of advanced workwear, weird blazers, and glittery, ASAP Rocky-approved track pants. But the Engineered Garments and Needles flagship store is also quietly home to one of the best footwear shops in all of New York City. Go up to the second floor and you’ll find a feast of shoes, from benchmade Aldens and flower child clogs to a grip of collaborative sneakers from EG and Needles. (Nepenthes, based in Japan, owns both brands.) So it was only a matter of time before the store itself released an expression of its superior footwear taste. This Friday, you’ll be able to buy Nepenthes New York’s first sneaker: the Nepenthes x Reebok Classics Workout Plus.

Angelo Urrutia, the quiet creative force behind all things Nepenthes, gave the original ’80s silhouette a light touch, simply adding a grey rough-out suede panel, grey sole, and subtle branding to an already-classic silhouette. “I remember from when I was really young all through high school that [the Workout Plus] was always around,” Urrutia says. “It was a big hit for Reebok in the late-’80s because of the aerobic craze, back when you bought a sneaker for a particular activity.” Now that vintage-inspired Reeboks are back in the streets, Urrutia wanted to highlight the Workout Plus’s timelessness. “It’s a clean slate,” he says, “and I wanted to keep it as clean as possible.”

Urrutia has another, somewhat unexpected connection to the Workout Plus. In 1990, legendary East L.A. rockers Los Lobos appeared in a Reebok ad to rep the sneaker. “For some reason I always remembered that ad,” Urrutia says. So the Nepenthes crew paid homage to the Los Lobos ad, emblazoned with the tagline “East LA Classic,” with their own version highlighting the store staff’s New York neighborhoods. “There was something about Los Lobos not really being fashion, and the ad being a fashion statement,” Urrutia says. “It always resonated with me.”

The Reebok collaboration is just the start of a footwear program under the Nepenthes NY umbrella. The store will drop new Reebok makeups in the coming months, and give different footwear brands and silhouettes their subtle treatment in the future. It was time, Urrutia says, to explore ideas that didn’t feel right for Engineered Garments. “With all the collaborations we do for Engineered Garments, it means something,” Urrutia says. “Either [Engineered Garments designer] Daiki [Suzuki] has a really personal connection to it, or it’s something we have huge respect for, like a Hoka.” Like the Reeboks, Urritia says, “Nepenthes New York is a blank slate, and we really want to explore all these ideas that have come and gone through our office and our walls.”

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