A step backwards for Mizuno?
It seemed that Mizuno managed to develop the perfect leather boot that balances an elegant touch on the ball with modern performance and top grade durability. Leather purists didn’t know if such an experience could be topped and many of us were cautious when we heard of a new Rebula, the Mizuno Rebula Cup, being launched within a year of the Rebula 3.
What is the Mizuno Rebula Cup?
While many expected the “Rebula 4”, we believe the Rebula Cup should be the official successor despite the change in name and remains as the “control boot” silo from the Mizuno brand.
At first glance, we were not too impressed. Coming from the sleek modern designs of the Rebula 3, the Rebula Cup seemed to be a step back in concept and in looks. All those ribbings and stitchings make the boot feel like a takedown model which was something its predecessors couldn’t be faulted for. Visually, this looks more 2010 than 2020.
It’s all about grip
The Rebula series has always been about an elegant feel of the ball. With the Rebula 3 achieving perfection on this front, it made sense for Mizuno to try a different angle with the Rebula Cup. Now, the Rebula is all about grip on the ball.
The biggest highlight is the ribbed pods that cover the entire forefoot and instep. The idea is that these pods can help dampen the ball when your receive it at pace while a layer of “FT GRIP” (FT= First Touch) coated across the midfoot help with “stickiness” on the ball.
Other new updates include changing the last of the boot to that of the Morelia 2’s for a roomier and comfortable fit and shape. The Rebula Cup also borrows the same artificial leather used on the midfoot of the Morelia 2 for its very own midfoot.
Besides the fit and feel, I’m not wholly convinced this is an upgrade in concept. The pods look bulky and thick and that may detract from a close touch on the ball.
Perhaps Mizuno should have kept the Rebula 3 for a little longer while making sure that the next iteration provided something different and exciting. If they were gonna add pods, perhaps Mizuno could have taken a bit more time to be creative and daring, turning Rebula into a bona fide “power boot” ala the Puma evoPower. With the “power boot” coming back into fashion, this could have been time to do something different and challenge the adidas Predator rather than develop another decent all-rounder.
The Rebula Cup is a Morelia 2 with cushioned pods – and that’s just a bit too vanilla in 2020.
A lack of product differentiation
It’s not easy to permeate the hype created by the big boys, adidas, Nike and Puma but in the last few years, Mizuno has stood out as an outsider who have carved out a niche for its well-crafted leather boots.
I feel that for them to grow, they now have to bring something different to the table with each silo as most of their boots are too similar to one another. The Morelia 2 and Rebula Cup share the same last and shape and they both are “good all-round leather boots” with the pods the only big difference in the latter. The Morelia Neo 3 is an excellent speed boot but it’s still another boot with a leather upper which has only seem incremental improvements to a safe formula.
I have no doubt the Rebula Cup will be an objectively good boot and it’s still a boot that we’re keen to test in the near future. But Mizuno’s got a different challenge right now as a company. It’s not just about good craftsmanship any more. To get to that next level, Mizuno has got ally their legendary craftsmanship with more interesting concepts.
Hardcore Mizuno fans may still stand by the brand but if they want to seen as the next big thing, they’ve got to show us something with a little more edge.