The late, great Alexander McQueen has just refreshed the classic Puma King football boot, employing master Italian artisans to produce two new luxury renditions. The first utilises a unique fish skin, which has been tanned and embellished with a metallic shimmer and the second is a gorgeous chestnut beast that has been panel-beaten from hand-burnished Italian leather. From the hand-stitched Formstripe to the all-leather sole and boot studs, right down to the seductive cowhide scent, these are a work of art that wouldn’t be out of place hanging in the Louvre. Only 30 pairs of the fish skins and 70 pairs in leather were produced and all were sent to Puma friends and family. This is one time we are more than happy to be on the B-Team. Bellisimo Puma! Flick the pics in the gallery above to see both models, as well as the original 1968 Puma King, and enjoy a video below showing how the premium collaboration was constructed. Below the clip you can read an interview with Yassine Saidi, Global Head of Lifestyle Select at Puma, discussing the project.
Hey Yassine, tell us a bit about yourself, what do you do at Puma?
Over the last 12 years I have worked in a number of roles across the sporting industry, gaining an insight into how various divisions work. I joined the PUMA team 2.5 years ago and my role involves Head of Lifestyle Footwear and also Head of SELECT, a newly created department, which sits within PUMA Lifestyle, and is our platform for collaborations.
What was the motivation for PUMA to make such an upmarket version of the King?
We meet with the Alexander McQueen team on a regular basis, and the idea to create this premium version of the King came about during a meeting to discuss the partnership. After a while, conversations led to what PUMA will do in the summer of 2014 in Brazil.
Conversations changed as to how the most prestigious fashion house can enter the football arena. It just made sense; PUMA’s heritage lies in performance and football in particular, why not create a premium take on one of our most iconic boots, we wanted to elevate football in the most luxurious way.
We spoke about the PUMA King, that ‘hand of God’ goal in ’66 and the honour role of the greatest PUMA football ambassadors, past and present . In so many moments that football history will never forget, the PUMA King was present. It’s one of the longest serving football concepts still in existence today. It is more than a boot, it’s a football legend steeped in firsts and onlys.
The idea, was organic and not planned it was born out of a mutual passion for Football.
And how does McQueen fit into the project?
To make to boot authentic to both brands it was essential for Alexander McQueen to be involved in the whole process, from start to finish, from material selection to factory decisions. The collaborative King pays homage to the most iconic silhouette in PUMA’s football archive while acknowledging one of PUMA’s most admired fashion collaborations. It takes the craftmanship and attention to detail of the McQueen brand and infuses it with PUMA’s technical authenticity. The luxury detail and the use of highest of quality materials commonly associated with Alexander McQueen are evident throughout the exclusively limited production run. The project is based on fusing sport and fashion: it becomes the union of tradition with technology.
These chestnut boots are just so sweet. I keep thinking they’re made out of chocolate and I want to take a bite out of ‘em. What was your first reaction when you saw them?
I had the chance to go to the factory and see the whole process, from creating the last to the laser cut logos. Witnessing the precision, care and expertise that went into creating the PUMA King by Alexander McQueen is something that I will never forget.
Seeing the finished product was mind blowing.
I know the press release said the leather was hand-burnished. What exactly does that mean?
Once the shoe is completed and lasted, the shoe maker takes the shoe into the finishing room. Here, using a mechanical brush wheel, waxes are added to the brush and the shoe maker uses experience and skill to bring the depth of the leather out using the wax. This is done to highlight the finishing edges and turned seems to give a highly hand crafted feel tot he finished shoe, Hand Burnishing is Shoe making wizardry!
The stops and sole are also pretty amazing. Quite a few people have assumed they are made out of timber, but they’re leather too.
The soling and Studs are made from a Cordovan Raw Hide, High Grade soling Leather that is press cut, then hand finished on a trimming wheel, then hand burninshed with a warm wax to seal the leather. Warm wax is used as it penetrates intot he very core of the leather itself. The rich golden brown hue shows this in it's crafted detail.
We haven’t seen the fish scale shoes yet either, tell us about them and how they came together. How hard is it to skin a fish and make leather out of it?
Fish skin tanning is seen as a highly technical skill, especially when the scales show the 'peel effect' like you'd expect on a fish skin. It's the self same technique a skilled chef would use to carefully remove the skin from the fish so as not to damage the meat or the skin. Knives are extremely sharp, and the deftest of hand skill is needed to ensure the skin is complete once it's removed - Then the alchemy of the tanning process begins.
Combining the Fish Skin to the PUMA King by Alexander McQueen is a level of opulence never achieved by us before, and now we have.
And finally, what’s your prediction? Who takes home the cup?
Well I’m French, so of course that’s my team and I have no doubts.