2016 Highlight Reel: PUMA
PUMA’s 2016 was defined by alliances with key figures in popular culture. They’ve cemented bonds with millennial politicians Rae Sremmurd, makeup mogul Kylie Jenner and kids’ show award winner The Weeknd. Arguably the star of PUMA’s roster right now is their Creeper collaboration with Rihanna, a shoe that continued to dominate and even went on to win one of sneaker media’s greatest accolades. It’s been a big year for the Big Cat.
Graphers Rock Disc Blaze
Friends in high places help, but the unions are moot if you don’t have great product. This Graphers Rock colab from April shows PUMA to be safe in that regard. A left-field success for many, this frenetic Disc Blaze is a stylistic representation of when ‘Cyberpunk meets techno culture’ that took off in a big way. Pairs cleared from shelves and we’re still seeing people flaunt them on #sneakerfreakerfam months later.
Signing Kylie Jenner is a huge win for the Cat. Jenner’s cosign is an independently minded, pointed influence for a large demographic of people. When she joined midyearKanye was vocally upset and told PUMA to take back their ‘measly million dollars’, but she was undeterred. She signed and modelled the Fierce KRM which, though not explicitly her signature model, seems to be the silhouette she’s most interested in working with.
Reissuing the Clyde
Though it left shelves, the Clyde never really left our hearts – and its resurrection was one our favourites of 2016. Adapted from the Suede in the 70s for Walter ‘Clyde’ Frazier, the silhouette is truly one of PUMA’s most iconic and the celebration of its return reflected as much. The Home and Away pack was particularly special. Two Italian-made pairs were wrapped in the finest suede and leather respectively and then numbered from one to 759 in gold embossing.
Young Thug and Rae Sremmurd
Young Thug, Slim Jimmy and Swae Lee have some of the most individual fashion sense in hip hop right now. All three baulk at tired customs and experiment with creating their own – traits which are perfect for PUMA ambassadors. In support of the brand’s direction, the musicians styled two separate shoots that saw Rae Sremmurd pair Clydes with Kangols and Young Thug effortlessly rock a velour tracksuit.
Bringing Back the Prevail
With a back catalogue as expansive as PUMA’s, they can be forgiven for looking over a few gems – as long as you remember to shine them up down the track. The Prevail is one such model that we’re particularly fond of. We pined for a retro of this burly beautyback in October and were happily surprised when the sneaker was greenlit for retro status in December. With nostalgic nods and a nearly one-to-one remake, we’re expecting the Prevail to find its footing with a number of new fans.
Rihanna’s ability to entertain has made her a successful performer, but it’s her ability to relate and empathise that is making her a legendary artist. Recognising this, PUMA signed her on as their Creative Director – a move that has proven to be masterfully symbiotic. The Creepers that Rihanna has produced have been insanely popular. The market wasn’t exactly crying out for a sportswear rendition of the rockabilly-favoured model, but Rihanna was in tune enough her fan base to see that they would be appreciated.
This past year saw the shoe go from strength to strength. It may have had a quiet start but by May the Creeper had burst out the gates with three new colourways that toyed with bordeaux and tonal opposites. Emboldened by their success, RiRi and PUMA released their most daring platform-soled sneaker in the ‘Autumn Camo’. Burnt oranges and browns mounted its thick gum sole fans were all for it. Other notable drops include the first OG of old sold out colourways and the recent Velvet numbers rounded out a year of sell-out releases.
The greatest affirmation of Rihanna and PUMA’s Fenty Creepers came from the critics. Footwear News honoured the silhouette with their ‘Shoe of the Year Award’ – high praise that had recently gone to adidas’ Stan Smith and Yeezy. For PUMA, being able to lend a hand in placing a female role model in sneakers is a sizable accomplishment. Anyone who’s lurked a forum or two will know that sneaker culture can be a bit of a boys club, but Rihanna and the Creeper are slowly shifting the paradigm.
Signing The Weekend
After months of rumours and cryptic, suggestive imagery PUMA finally revealed that they had signed The Weeknd. Seen wearing the IGNITE evoKNIT in a video clip, the Starboy has since been in one ad campaign with PUMA – though things are still relatively clandestine about the partnership. ‘Run the Streets’ hashtags have been in strong circulation regarding a collaborative line of sneakers and apparel set to come early 2017, but little more is known. Will he be getting his own shoe, or will he put his own twist on a classic? Time will tell.