The Big Cat certainly didn’t go hungry this year. In fact, PUMA were absolutely feeding on collaborations. From pop culture and gaming link-ups with Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Super Mario, to high-end partnerships with KidSuper and J.Cole, this feisty feline is looking healthier than ever as we prowl into 2022. Let’s take a look back at PUMA’s top releases this year.
KidSuper x PUMA SuedeKidSuper x PUMA Suede
The superhuman creativity of KidSuper has become a force in 2021, Colm Dillane’s arthouse imprint picking up the coveted Karl Lagerfeld Prize this year. In May, the Brooklyn-based studio teamed up with the Big Cat yet again, this time for the classic Suede and RS-Sandal.
For many of us, the KidSuper x Suede was one of the more impressive PUMA releases this year, the idiosyncratic design equipped with an ingenious pencil holder on the mid-foot and cheeky stash pocket in the tongue.
Remember, not all heroes wear capes – some wear Suedes!
LaMelo Ball's PUMA MB.01 LaMelo Ball's PUMA MB.01
It certainly didn’t take long for human highlight reel LaMelo Ball to get his own sneaker. Signing with the Big Cat in 2020, LaMelo debuted the PUMA MB-1 during the 2021 NBA Summer League.
The first Ball brother to get his own signature shoe (outside of the troubled Big Baller Brand) LaMelo was reportedly involved in every step of the design process. Harnessing 3D printing tech for the uppers, the MB1 is a fitting shoe for the fledgling superstars, LaMelo of course dominating the competition last season to win Rookie of the Year.
‘I am excited to officially launch my first signature basketball shoe with PUMA,’ Ball said of the release. ‘It’s crazy to see my vision come to life with the MB.01. The design process was very collaborative, incorporating my style and unique details like the rocket flames. I can’t wait to wear them on court this season.’,
Animal Crossing: New Horizons x PUMA Wild RiderAnimal Crossing: New Horizons x PUMA Wild Rider
PUMA flexed their pop culture credentials this year, linking-up with a Nintendo video game pulling huge numbers during lockdown: Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Taking aesthetic cues from the whimsical art style of the social sim, the Future Rider, Suede and Landcat sandals all impressed. But it was the chunkified Wild Rider that took the virtual cake for us, the lifestyle-oriented iteration perfectly fitting the blocky, Lego-like design orientation of the game.
J. Cole x PUMA Dreamer 2J. Cole x PUMA Dreamer 2
The sophomore sneaker from J.Cole, the Dreamer 2 debuted in July. A certified hip hop star and hooper (J.Cole had a brief stint in the Basketball Africa League earlier this year), the Dreamer 2 is a mid-top silhouette at home both on and off the hardwood.
One of the more unique basketball sneakers we’ve seen this year, the ProFoam midsole and RS foam heels leapt over plenty of more high-profile signature sneakers this year.
Now, where’s the new LP J.Cole?
PUMA Slipstream MutationPUMA Slipstream Mutation
Forming an important part of hoops sneaker culture in the late 80s, the PUMA Slipstream maintains a strong presence in places like Japan, where limited colourways inspire a cult following. This year, PUMA unleashed a Mutation edition, a playful nod to the Slipstream’s beloved moniker: The Beast.
Recognisable for its wild animal prints and exotic colourways, PUMA overhauled the uppers for the latest rendition, the deconstructed aesthetic perfectly suited to the Off-White-esque zeitgeist still doing the rounds in 2021.
Long live the Beast!
Butter Goods x PUMAButter Goods x PUMA
The complete Butter Goods x PUMA collaboration was smoother than a hot knife through butter.
Australian skate label Butter Goods teamed up with PUMA for a nostalgia-laden collaboration in September, the clothing and sneaker capsule stacked with goodies.
Consisting of two takes each on the Slipstream and Basket, the link-up was a playful remix of the vintage duo – the Slipstream and Basket landed in the 1980s and 1960s respectively.
‘We were so excited to work with a brand with such a rich history and deep archives,’ said Butter Goods of the collection. ‘The most exciting thing about the design process is the discovery both for us as the people designing but also in the finished product for the customer.’
Keen for more of our favourite releases of 2021? Check out Sneaker Freaker’s staff picks!