What Does The Future Hold For PUMA?

October 09, 2022 by Joey Birch

What Does The Future Hold For PUMA?

Much like adidas, the story of PUMA begins with conflict. 

Rewinding the clock slightly, back to 1919, two German brothers Rudolf and Adolf Dassler opened their first factory in their parent's home where they’d begin the production process for their brand ‘Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik’ (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory). 

By 1924, the duo would move into their first official premises. By the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, most of the German athletes were wearing Dassler track spikes. This success continued to grow throughout the decade with the likes of Jesse Owens and others sporting a pair of the spikes. 

Just as the two seemed to be on a winning streak, their relationship abruptly broke down for a reason unbeknownst to historians to this day. Nevertheless, the two brothers didn’t let their feud get in the way of their bigger vision with Adolf Dassler founding adidas in 1949 and Rudolph founding PUMA the year prior, in 1948.


Since its creation, PUMA has been at the forefront of several of history's biggest sneaker moments. In 1952, they created the world's first football boot to include screw-in studs as well as breaking two-track world records, in 1954 and 1958 consecutively, with both athletes donning the PUMA running spikes. 

1968 saw the debut of the logo that many people know today which sees the iconic Puma cat leaping over the name of the brand in what they call the ‘No.1 Logo’. The same year, PUMA debuted its first lifestyle sneaker named the ‘Crack’. During the ‘50s - ‘70s, the term crack was a colloquialism used to describe the very best of something and for PUMA, their lifestyle sneaker had to be the best. 

The shoe was then seen on the world stage at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 where gold and silver medal athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their hands with a black glove on as a gesture against racism that has been ingrained in human history. The third runner on the podium, Peter Norman, was ironically wearing adidas.

Following this, PUMA was able to make history by penetrating the basketball industry with their ’Crack’ silhouette. Acting as a signature shoe for the New York Knicks' Point Guard Walt Frazier who got the nickname Clyde after the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde which saw Warren Beatty wear a fedora, similar to that of Frazier off the court in addition to the basketball player's exceptional skill when playing defence, PUMA opted to name the sneaker ‘Clyde’.

PUMA Clyde advert, 1970's

Featuring an updated shell outsole that was flat and grippy, the silhouette was perfect for Frazier who was looking for a low-cut sneaker to ball in. As the upper was made of suede leather, it allowed the shoe to be constructed in a variety of colourways and combinations with ease. This process was so easy in fact, that it’s rumoured Frazier requested to wear a brand new colourway in each game leading to PUMA creating around 390 pairs during the time he was playing in the shoe. 

The sneaker since had to change its name once again to the PUMA ‘Suede’, as the footwear brand didn’t have the rights to the name ‘Clyde’ internationally, only within the US. Nevertheless, the Clyde remains one of the most iconic styles of all time.  

 OG PUMA Running System (RS), 1985

While PUMA continued to remain a key player in sports, even creating the world's first smart sneaker in 1985 which included a small computer in the heel which took in data from a runner's progress thanks to a set of shock absorbers called the 'Running System' in the midsole, and a laceless ‘Disc’ system in 1991, it wasn’t until 2015 that PUMA was able to hit pop culture again. 

2015 saw the introduction of Rihanna as PUMA’s Women's Creative Director and ambassador. A short-lived partnership, that saw the artist work alongside PUMA until 2018, the duo created a myriad of Ready-to-Wear collections in conjunction with her brand Fenty as well as creating a range of sneakers and boots, the most notable of which was the ‘Creepers’ released in 2016 which took the PUMA Suede upper and placed it upon a chunky midsole. 

Despite the popularity, the collaboration garnered during its time, it’s still not seemingly been enough to keep PUMA in a favourable position within popular sneaker culture or within the ever-changing trends. Nevertheless, they’ve been able to continue to permeate their reach within a variety of sports from sponsoring Manchester City to sponsoring Lewis Hamilton. 

However, that could be able to change. 

On the 29th of August, it was announced that PUMA would be collaborating with the Montreal-based serial collaborator JJJJound. 2022 has seen the digital mood board turned bonafide brand release some of the biggest sneakers of the year alongside the likes of New Balance and BAPE. 

Utilising the classic PUMA Suede, the collaboration boasted the usual minimal, yet premium, design seen across all of its offerings. However, with the collaboration only released in China, it meant that it didn’t get to have its moment with the US or European audiences who eagerly await anything JJJJound releases at this stage. 

However, it appears that PUMA wasn’t done there. On the 7th of September, UK Grime artist Skepta uploaded an image of himself pictured with the CEO of PUMA, Bjørn Gulden amongst other members of the team. 

The music artist, who also recently made headlines after trying his hand at art which sold for around £82,000 at Sotheby's, recently penned a deal with the German footwear brand. While the partnership isn’t just with Skepta directly, it’s with his brand ‘Big Smoke Corp’, PUMA has confirmed that the duo will be creating a range of products in addition to marketing campaigns. 

Skepta is no stranger to creating footwear. His impressive portfolio also boasts a 7 pair collaboration with Nike which spanned from 2016 with the Air Max BW - 2021 with the Air Max Tailwind V.

This move is certainly an intriguing one and begs the question: what does the future hold for PUMA? A brand that has such strong roots planted within sports, that has struggled to remain a contender in mainstream pop culture, could finally be making a move that’ll see it taking over the streets currently run by Nike and New Balance. 

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