There it is guys, my second interview and this one is with one of the most amazing and legendary designers to ever work for Reebok in the past. Mr. Ralph Serna is first of all one of the coolest and down to earth people I ever had the chance to discuss with our beloved passion, sneakers, and after that one very talented designer, that shaped the industry over the years he worked, especially in those early days.
His career started far back in the mid 70’s, actually around the time when I was born, as a competitive runner for Laura High School in California, where he competed for several years with some outstanding achievements, In the 1974 National Postal 2-mile cross country race, Mr. Serna placed first with a time of 8:56 in a loaded field and at the 1975 CIF California State Meet, Serna ran the fastest non-winning two-mile time in US high school history, in a time 8:45.90, during the high school years his personal best time in the mile was 4:07.
Later, in the early 80’s, he completed several of the big marathons, like the Boston, posting 2:14:16, easily surpassing the Olympic “A” standard for the marathon, and New York one, with time of 2:14:22 and placed eleventh overall. At the 1984 he qualified for the 1984 US Olympic Trials for the marathon, but did not run the trials due to a problem with his Achilles tendon
Naturally his knowledge and experience with the sport led him to multiple companies throughout the years, where he was involved in countless projects and some of them have a cult following even today , The Ventilator, The Court Victory Pump, Sole Trainer, The Pump Running, Interval, just to name a few of his amazing creations for Reebok in the early and mid 90’s. Reebok was the first company to approach Ralph on the late 80’s and sent him over to South Korea for several years, where he had an amazing experience familiarizing himself with the production process, materials and modern, for the time, technology.
The Ventilator is the model that most of us are familiar today, thanks to Reebok’s effort in the last and previous years to revive the model and re-introduce it to the newer generation with a lot of collaborations and special edition versions, alongside the original colorways. There is so much information on that very first original model, that there are not too many secrets left, but still worth mentioning the revolutionary for the time arch support bridge, providing that necessary stability for every runner, the light weight and of course the well ventilated side panels.
Another iconic model that was created by Mr. Serna was the first Michael Chang signature, the Court Victory Pump, a model that even today, over 25 years later, is highly regarded and stands out. It was one of the first to incorporate the new Hexalite technology in both forefoot and heel areas, in addition to the midfoot Pump chamber and Indy 500 by GoodYear rubber for the outsole.
Right around the same time, he also created the Pump Running, which is now more famous with the new name Pump Dual, a model that was the first to feature dual Pump chamber setup with one in the collar and one going under the heel arch and of course the obligatory Hexalite under the heel for better impact protection and shock absorption. This model received the retro treatment many times over the years and even today Reebok are continuing to release it.
Throughout the years Ralph also worked for companies like Etonic, Mizuno, Vans, Avia, NSS, EVOS, Ryka, Yukon, Diesel, Sean John, Pony and the list goes on and on. In the mid 90’s he made a quick comeback to Reebok and right before the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games, he created one of my favorite runners from that time, the Interval, which he describes as a bold and versatile trainer for all purpose training, I am glad to be one of those people that actually own a DS pair in my collection.
Please enjoy this interview and stay tuned for more exciting conversations in the future with other iconic designers.
Huge thank you again to Mr. Ralph Serna for agreeing to sit down for this interview and for sharing so many cool and funny stories!
P.S. I noticed some audio distortion on my end, please forgive the technical issues.