The Big Cat was well and truly purring in 2021. Not only releasing some feisty sneakers, PUMA also stuck their claws into plenty of initiatives this year, taking huge strides in eco-conscious footwear, and inking historic deals with hoops phenoms. Let’s loosen our laces and revisit the many lives of PUMA.
PUMA Opens New North American Headquarters
The Big Cat threw open the doors of their brand new North American headquarters in November. Located in Somerville, Massachusetts, the move combines 450 employees previously spread across two offices in neighbouring Boston and Westford, into a massive 150,000 square foot space.
‘To support PUMA’s continued growth, fuelled in large part by the North American market, we focused on creating a space that reflects our “Forever Faster” mentality. We put creativity and innovation at the forefront, bringing together our entire North American team to collaborate and propel our brand forward,’ said Bob Philion, president of PUMA North America.
A 19,000 square foot rooftop space for dining and installation is an obvious drawcard, while the 2300 square foot balcony provides ample room for ‘ideation’ (read: cocktails).
‘Operating in a product-driven industry, it’s crucial we bring together the best possible team of creative thinkers in a space that fosters diversity of thought and innovation,' said Adam Petrick, Global Director of Brand and Marketing at PUMA.
We’re expecting some epic ideas to take shape from these new digs in 2022!
The First Fully Biodegradable Suede
Another step in the right direction for eco-conscious footwear, PUMA developed the very first fully biodegradable Suede model dubbed the RE:SUEDE. Belonging to the ‘Forever Better’ sustainability initiative, the vintage hooper received a complete overhaul, the shoe manufactured in the all-new ‘Zeology’ material. Undergoing a special tanning process, the Zeology is bolstered by other biodegradable materials like TPE and hemp fibres.
In January 2022, the RE:SUEDE will be given to 500 wear-testers in Germany, who will wear it for six months to check the durability of its materials.
'With every challenge there’s an opportunity – and we’ve continued to push ourselves to do better by applying our strengths as well as acknowledging and improving on our weaknesses,' said Heiko Desens, PUMA’s creative director. 'We hope that progress made during the RE:SUEDE experiment will help us continue to raise the bar in circularity testing – enabling our consumers to make better fashion choices in the future, so their sneakers can go "from Suede to Soil", without compromising on product style or durability during ownership'.
PUMA Ink Historic Deal With Mikey Williams
In October, PUMA signed 17-year-old basketball prodigy Mikey Williams, the hoop phenom becoming the first American high school player with a sneaker deal.
‘I am excited to join the Puma family this early in my basketball journey,’ Williams said. ‘Puma really understands how to mix hoops and culture, two things I am passionate about.’
A 6'2'' guard playing for Vertical Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina, Williams has already established a huge social media presence, the 2024 draft prospect boasting 3.3 million Instagram followers.
‘His talent on the court and his ability to connect with young athletes and fans alike will help drive hoops culture forward and inspire the next generation of athletes,’ Adam Petrick, global director of brand and marketing at Puma stated.
Revamping the Shoebox
Furthering their ambition in the field of sustainable practices, PUMA completely revamped their iconic red shoeboxes this year. Requiring much less cardboard than their predecessor, the red shoeboxes form yet another lynchpin in their eco-conscious mission, the new design launched alongside a pledge to phase out plastic bags in their retail locations by the end of the decade.
Composed of at least 95 per cent recycled cardboard, the move is another important step for the Big Cat in 2021 and beyond.
‘If we consider that it takes about 12 trees to make a tonne of cardboard, we are saving 33,600 trees every year. That is more than the number of trees in Central Park in New York,’ said Stefan Seidel, PUMA's Head of Corporate Sustainability.
This isn’t the first time PUMA have retooled their packaging in recent years. Their ‘Clever Little Bag’ was an innovative alternative to the shoebox throughout the early 2010s, which won inventors fuseproject a number of enviro and design awards at the time.
PUMA Sign WNBA Star Breanna Stewart to Long-Term Sneaker Deal
PUMA continue to bolster their roster of female ambassadors, signing the WNBA star Breanna Stewart. ‘Stewie’ will become a long-term ambassador for the brand, in a deal that includes the development of a signature sneaker – a significant outcome for women in the footwear industry.
‘I am proud to join the PUMA family,’ said Stewart. ‘The genuine investment PUMA has shown to collaborate with and activate around women, including the commitment to a signature performance shoe, is something that I hope serves to raise the expectations and standards of the generations of basketball players who follow me.’
Stewart’s achievements include being the only player of any gender to win four consecutive NCAA Championships, being the first overall pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft, winning a gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics, and notching a second Championship and Finals MVP for the 2019-2020 WNBA season.
For more on PUMA, make sure to check out their top releases of 2021!