Once upon a time, sneaker culture wasn’t about fitting in. You backed the brands who spoke to you, the brands you connected with, and you rocked whatever made you different. It’s something the old regime of sneaker culture loves to speak on. The “OGs,” like @sneakersensei, are always pushing to move back to that and it has nothing to do with securing easier launch day releases. It has everything to do with making sure the core of the sneaker world keeps in touch with its roots.
For a long time, the sneaker game has been riddled with sheep. In a way, Instagram helped accentuate that. Release days see hordes of young, would-be sneakerheads falling in love, copping the same kicks and wearing them the same way as everyone else. That attitude permeates throughout the culture and there will always be a place for that (how can you knock someone for wanting something cool?), but as we push toward 2016 it feels like the game might be shifting again. The ring bearers are still warming the throne–Jordan Brand is releasing some of the classics we haven’t seen in years and Nike continues to innovate and change the way we see streetwear fashion. But everyone else is becoming hip to the game, as well.
Take PUMA, for instance. From aligning themselves with fashion revolutionaries like Rihanna, Vashtie, and Travis Scott, to the hordes of special edition collabs they keep pumping out with designer luminaries like Rise NYC and Ronnie Fieg, the longstanding brand isn’t content to repeat history. (Even though their own history is legendary.) They want to expand and innovate, and push the game forward.
“They’re unique and I like what they stand for,” PUMA connoisseur @EddieWinKicks told us recently. “They have more to offer a consumer than other footwear brands in my opinion. On a typical sneaker wall, PUMAs always stand out to me.
“I’d argue that they have some of the best collabs in the game. They let whoever they’re collaborating with go all out, as seen with what they’ve done with Ronnie Fieg. They’ve put out some amazing stuff together. I’m excited to check out their upcoming release. Upgrading the R698 and adding a strap to the Blaze of Glory, crazy! The first BWGH collab was super clean as well, the ‘Bluefields.’ I missed those in 2013 so when they brought them back this year I was hyped. Copped them with the quickness!”
PUMA is making noise by taking classics of past generations and freaking them for the new school. From the R698 to the Suede to the Blaze of Glory, they’ve all had their time life extended by this technique.
In-between asking them about what’s current playing in their headphones, we recently got up with three NFL stars from PUMA’s roster–Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney, Minnesota’s Cordarrelle Patterson, and Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles–who all noted that the classics never drop from their rotations. The Suede, in particular, was mentioned by all three as a go-to piece of their wardrobe. (Not surprisingly. It’s one of the most iconic silhouettes ever.) The Roma, another great lifestyle sneaker, was mentioned by both Patterson and Charles as a go-to. And while Clowney and Charles gave us the secrets behind what they’re wearing during workouts–for Clowney, it’s the Ignite; for Charles, the Pulse XT–Charles also noted he’s a big fan of the R698. First releasing in 1980 to much fanfare due to it’s use of the ultra-comfortable Trinomic sole, the R698 soon became known as a counterpoint to the rest of the running world. Over the years, it developed into a streetwear piece. Within the modern culture, it’s a silhouette that’s gone to another level through some amazing sneaker collaborations over the past few years.
As trends change, one thing within this culture will always stay the same: sneaker lovers all over the world will be drawn to brands that offer a mix of versatility and style. PUMA understands that and it’s a big reason why so many people, from the kid next door to an NFL Pro Bowler, are down with the movement.
“You can wear the shoes in a casual or dressed up setting,” Charles says. “Their lifestyle clothes fit my personality.”