During the last year or more, the predominant narrative in many sneaker circles seems to revolve around Nike versus adidas in the ongoing battle for supremacy. While the little guys like Diadora, Le Coq Sportif and others are producing great products, and at times appear to be gaining traction, PUMA occupies an interesting spot in the middle of the pack.
Certainly the PUMA Suede has earned its stripes in sneaker culture as a reliable classic, and models like the Disc Blaze and Blaze of Glory have also been the subject of strong collaborations, while PUMA even beat Nike at their own game by introducing an auto-lacing system, however our street style reports from Paris, Milan, and elsewhere show that the brand is not as heavily represented as its competitors. As a result, the German sportswear brand often seems overshadowed by the Swoosh’s hyped NikeLab drops and adidas’ high-profile artist and designer partnerships.
But PUMA looks to be levelling its sights on female sneakerheads, which could definitely improve the brand’s market share. Seeing as Rihanna recently unveiled her Fenty lineup, and even Kylie Jenner put pen to paper with the brand, we tapped several sneaker experts and industry insiders including Complex’s Emily Oberg, Parisian author and collector Ugly Mely. UK-based women’s sneaker boutique PAM PAM, and our friends at Campless/StockX, to get their thoughts on how 2016 could be a big year for PUMA.
“It’s undeniable that Kylie Jenner and Rihanna are influential to their millions of followers who will buy whatever they tell them to. But whether or not they’re influential in sneaker culture is a different thing. It is a very niche subculture, but I’m not sure that they are influencing the OG sneakerheads and people who have been into sneakers for years.
What is cool, is that they are putting girls onto sneakers who before, would have scoffed at the idea of wearing them any place besides the gym. To me, expanding the female sneaker community is a great thing.”
“If you look at the top five names in the sneaker game, Nike and Adidas are always number one and number two, but the remaining brands are rarely the same from year to year. A few years ago, PUMA wouldn’t be considered for the top five, but since 2013, the brand’s strategy has been maturing – more strategic collaborations with influencers like Ronnie Fieg, Vashtie, Stampd, ALIFE, Sophie Chang in the US, and BWGH in France for example.
Their new Instagram account @pumasportstyle was also a great idea to communicate the brand’s artistic strategies.
The PUMA Suede has been the brand’s most popular and iconic silhouette for a long time. Rihanna was inspired by this iconic shape to create the PUMA Creepers. I love this collaboration, but I prefer to wear a running style like the XS850 OG.
As for Kylie Jenner, I think it’s a good idea to use her potential, she’s a fashion icon for many young girls in the world, so she can prove that girls with sneakers are really feminine and stylish. Personally I can’t wait for Kylie’s first PUMA release.”
“Last season’s R698 Soft Pack in Dogwood Pink was very strong for us. Women are loving silhouettes that are sleek and minimal with beautiful materials and effortless colours. The Soft Pack delivered this in a neat little package and women loved it. It should also be mentioned how Solange Knowles’ collaboration with PUMA ticked major boxes for what women want!
It’s no secret that Rihanna has been a style icon for years and has garnered a very large, younger following. This, I believe, is perfect for PUMA, having a younger audience that will grow with the brand, educating and motivating them to be interested in the products so they will forever hold a nostalgic bond.
As far as Kylie Jenner is concerned, there is no doubt that she is a powerhouse in the social media game. With 50+ million followers, Jenner reaches an exceptionally wide age range of women with all different style preferences. Kylie is often seen wearing a slew of different street brands, from Supreme to Palace to adidas, so she is no stranger to the style and wears it confidently. For PUMA to snap her up and utilise her style and followers is quite a savvy move. Whether Kanye is happy about it or not (haha), I can’t imagine PUMA not achieving a wider reach through Jenner.
It is definitely evident that PUMA is on the rise with women’s offerings. With the ongoing partnerships alongside New York’s sweetheart Vashtie, pop star Rihanna, the support of Jenner and more exciting female lead collabs to come, PUMA is on the up and very worth keeping eyes on.”
“Women’s collabs don’t have a big life on the resell market. Resell value is driven by a mismatch between supply and demand – specifically, supply being less than demand. Brands rarely keep women’s collabs intentionally limited in supply, and demand is tough to predict because the number of women sneakerheads is much, much less than men. In fact, we did some demographic work a few years ago and found that women account for 2-3% of the sneakerhead community. So the goal of PUMA with Kylie or Rihanna – I would think – is to drive retail sales and NOT for marketing and brand cache purposes, the way adidas is using Kayne. The number support this. Since the launch the Creeper, there have been less than 100 pairs sold on eBay, and almost all of those are at or below retail price.”
- Main Image: PUMA