The real testament to the enormity of the PUMA Clyde’s appeal is found amongst dedicated sneaker fanciers. With collections in the hundreds to thousands of pairs, once that initial itch develops, it can so easily fester into a full-blown addiction. Forever Fresh is a collective of hardcore European PUMA nuts. We tracked down co-founders Chillie 63 and Measel to rap about their visual database of over 500 rare PUMA trainers. Peep the Clyde master-class below, which also features the powerhouse collection of Professor B!
As seen in Issue 18 of Sneaker Freaker.
You’ve established yourselves as some of the world’s most dedicated connoisseurs of the Clyde. Tell us, what exactly is it about the Clyde that does it for you?
Chillie 63: Well I guess for me it’s a few things. For starters, the shoe has a great history in sport as well as in hip hop culture. Pretty much everyone is familiar with it, along with the Suede and I like how simple the shoe is. I’m not really a fan of ‘busy’ shoes. It’s also amazing the number of different colourways that have been made over the years.
Measel: For me the PUMA Clyde is The Sneaker! Everything done right on a shoe model! So simple but yet so nice!
When did you both see your first pair of Clydes? Can you describe what went on in your brains at that moment?
Chillie 63: Ahh man… that was a real long time ago. It would have been the late ‘80s and we used to be able to get them for around £15 a pair at a shop in Sunderland. Just basic colours like black and white, red and white etc. But back then when we were young we just wore them to death, binned them and moved on to the next pair. I used to write graffiti back then so new kicks never lasted that long. It wasn’t really until I got the internet that I discovered all these other colourways. I was amazed that so many were out there that I had never even seen before. Maybe that was because I live in the North East of England, miles away from London.
Measel: For me, it was when I found a website in Denmark selling Suedes – I knew I’d found my shoes, I really loved them right away! I even bought several pairs in different colourways, which was totally new for me. When I saw the Clydezillas at Sneakersnstuff (Stockholm) I knew instantly that I needed them. Coming from a punk record background, I embraced the limited edition deal right away. I didn’t buy them at first though because of the high price but later that night when I’d had a few beers, the price didn’t feel as intimidating anymore and I placed the order for the black and orange pair. I think you can say getting them was what made me discover there was a whole trainer scene out there. Shortly after I realised that I couldn’t afford to grab every new Clyde release and so began my hunt for vintage models.
What about your Forever Fresh group, what’s that all about?
Measel: It was me and Chillie 63 talking about how these PUMAs that we love so much needed a proper archive, since there have been so many colourways and variations over the years. We decided we’d start a flickrstream and beg everyone we know for pictures of their PUMAs. It turned out really well, with people from all over the world contributing. It’s awesome especially if you need to find out info on shoes or just want to sit and browse through all these versions we have collected. I know I can sit for hours staring at pictures of nice Suedes or Clydes I wish I owned!
Chillie 63: We often chatted about all these amazing colourways and the small differences that appeared in different factories on different dates. Just little things like different insoles, different gold foil PUMA logos, tongue tags, slight differences in the shape and so on… very geeky I know! So we had the idea to record them all in one place and started off using pictures of our own collections. We tagged them all with the art number and factory build/date info, so we could keep track of everything. Then we posted the site on a few forums and we now have almost 500 pairs in the group! Recently we’ve also been involved with PUMA UK and they have been fantastic to work with. They made us some PUMA x Forever Fresh t-shirts to donate to the people who have helped us with the site.
Nice one! What are you most proud of in your own collection? The overall quantity or the super-rare gems?
Chillie 63: Quality outshines quantity every time!
Measel: It’s all about the mix for me! I’m most proud of how well put-together my collection is. Of course like everyone else I have favorite pairs, but it’s the variation that does it. Both pairs from the Bonnie and Clyde set is something I’m extra proud of, I even wore the Clydes at my wedding. Black Jamaica Suedes have a special place in my heart too, since I don’t know of any other pairs around and they have one of the best suede shapes ever, so they look superb on as well. I buy a few pairs here and sell another few pairs there. And with every new deal I think it’s better afterwards. I wear every pair and want it to be as broad as possible. I don’t want to have ten pairs in five different colourways, I’d much rather have 50 different pairs in different colours.
And which Clyde would you trade your right arm for at this very moment?
Chillie 63: I guess that would have to be the 1991 PUMA JD Sports Clyde. It’s one that I’ve never been able to track down without having to pay silly money and deal with all the hassles of shopping on Yahoo! Auctions. Another one would be the green edition of the Yo! MTV Raps Clyde.
Measel: Green Yo! MTV Raps by far. I think it’s the nicest PUMA released in the 20th century and it’s a total Holy Grail for me. A couple of years ago I was in a bidding war for a pair in my size, but I was outbid at US$800, which is way beyond my limit for a pair of kicks. Also the Mustard/Natural Clyde that was made in Yugoslavia is high on my wish list!
What’s the market like for vintage Clydes? Is the competition hot?
Measel: Yugoslavia-made Clydes or Suedes are pretty hard to come by and always sell high.
Chillie63: For my size (UK 8-8.5) it can be. As there are a few of us with that size, sometimes we find that we’re all bidding on the same shoes when they turn up on eBay. We’ve probably ended up costing each other a fair amount of money over the years!
Have there been any subtle changes in the Clyde over the ages? Most shoes seem to change in different ways.
Measel: From what I know the first Clydes were pretty identical to the Suedes except for having a bit more width and maybe another sole unit. In the ‘90s they looked pretty identical except for the Clyde branding. Then in the late ‘90s PUMA made an ‘Original Suede’ line which is now the basis for modern Clydes. So yeah, there have been changes over the years.
Chillie63: There have been a few changes. Mainly things like different coloured tongue tags. Some pairs have a different sole unit. I have seen the odd pair with a PUMA ‘Contact’ sole unit. Some have different logo branding on the side and the gold Clyde logo wasn’t always block capitals until recently (the older ones alternated between Clyde’s signature and block letters). The Suedes never had Suede branding on the side until 2006. I guess the biggest difference though, and the one which gets at people, is the slight difference in shape. Personally I prefer the stubbier toe box, but some people prefer the pointier ones.
Last of all, tell us why, in your opinion, nearly 40 years on, the Clyde is still a classic?
Chillie63: Now that’s easy! Like I said earlier, it’s just a nice, simple shoe that’s stood the test of time. When done correctly it still looks as good as it did all that time ago. There aren’t that many shoes out there that are still in production forty years later, and I believe that the Clyde will still be going forty years from now.
Measel: Yep, with such timeless design, millions of variation possibilities and such a grand heritage, I think it will still be around in another forty years as well.
Thanks to www.errolphotography.com for the images.