German sportswear giant PUMA has announced a convention-defying SS19 partnership with one of the most promising streetwear brands in China, Sankuanz.

Sankaunz is the brainchild of Shangguan Zhe – a semi-finalist for the prestigious LVMH Prize for young fashion designers – and represents the forefront of Chinese streetwear design, with an emphasis on uniforms, contemporary art, and Chinese youth subcultures.

They led AW18 with the theme of “Kill the Wall”, an idea that is continued in their collab with PUMA. If you haven’t checked in on Chinese politics at any point in the last 3000 years, China has had a somewhat complicated relationship with ideas of protection and defense, which has provided a rich seam of inspiration for Shangguan Zhe in his creations for Sankuanz.

“Kill the Wall” represents Zhe’s willingness to break with the classics of Chinese design, referencing the cultural touchstones of his country’s history – from chainmail to riot cop uniforms – while also nodding towards a wider, more internationalist approach that landed perfectly at fashion weeks around the globe last year.

PUMA take this theme and runs with it: the Cell Endura Cali, RS-X and Thunder sneaker models get a reworking that melds natural tones with flashes of neon and blocky, bulky outlines to produce an on-trend ’90s silhouette. The PUMA Cell Endura – a bona fide ’90s classic, famously sported by Linford Christie way back when – gets a Sankuanz makeover, adding purple and bright green to the outline that we all know and love, as well as reflective and translucent elements.

The Cali is reworked in suede, leather, and rubber: the sole, toe and heel are extended to imbue a fully ’90s chunky look, while the signature Sankuanz livery is added to complete the collab.

It’s not all one-way, however: the apparel refers as much to the heritage brand as it does to the up-and-comers from China. The UMA x Sankuanz track top is classic PUMA, with a double knit fabric and zip-up front that could only come from their half of Herzogenaurach. Ditto the PUMA x Sankuanz hoodie, which takes the timeless hoody shape and adds trademark Sankuanz accents via typeface and embroidery. The pants element of the collection is heavy on techno-inspired lettering and knitted tape elements, while the tees and crews hark back to the soccer-heavy gear produced by PUMA in the ’90s.

Watch the teaser promo video up top, and stay tuned for more detailed photos of the collection. The collab drops at puma.com and leading retailers from Feb 2.

Words by Mike Wood
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