Puma got its hands on the floor on Tuesday night, loudly announcing its return to New York Fashion Week and its aim to capture a bigger share of the lucrative U.S. sports and streetwear markets.
On the eve of its 75th anniversary in 2023, the German sports brand held an energetic multimedia parade in lower Manhattan – its first since 2017 – which drew celebrities, influencers and athletes to help get the party started.
The show, called Futrograde, was developed by Puma’s creative director June Ambrose and served to showcase the brand’s past, present and future. From retro tracksuits to Nitro Nfrno and Fastroid sneakers accessible via NFTs, the show had something for everyone. And the appearance of a well-known ambassador, multiple Olympic gold medalist sprinter Usain Bolt, dressed in a Puma-style party look – black joggers with the brand’s signature stripe in white with matching tails that trailed behind him – was among the highlights of the show.
This reimagined take on the tracksuit was revisited throughout the evening with a number of collections from current and future seasons, including collaborations with AC Milan; Dapper Dan; Koche, a line aimed at women, and Palomo Spain, a genderless collection. He also offered a preview of the June Ambrose collection, Keeping Score, which will be launched next year.
For the core collection, Puma offered several iterations of its fashion-mixed performance offerings. This includes Downtown, a streetwear collection based on sustainability; Luxe Sport, an avant-garde representation with exaggerated dimensions and a reinvented brand image; Player’s Lounge, a new version of the football uniform in noble materials; Puma Tech, a functional streetwear line with technical attributes, and Uptown, a high-end streetwear collection.
The evening also served as the launch of Black Station, Puma’s first metaverse website experience that featured exclusive, non-fungible tokens along with limited-edition, redeemable physical sneakers. Buyers who strike a Nitropass can enter a digital lobby with three separate portals that will reveal the Nfrno and Fastroid sneakers where they can claim the shoes and burn their NFT. Black Station also provides access to the NYFW runway and encourages interaction with pieces from the collection.
The extravaganza attracted many senior Puma executives who traveled from Germany to watch the show. This included global managing director Bjorn Gulden who was in the midst of a whirlwind world tour that included the Formula 1 races in Milan, the Diamond Athletics races in Zurich and other events.
Beyond these events, Gulden is gearing up for the 75th anniversary next year and said the brand will focus on its Forever Faster mantra. “These two words describe everything we do: Forever is about classic company history and credibility, and faster is about performance.”
Gulden admitted that while Puma may be older than many of its biggest competitors, including Nike and Adidas, “we haven’t done a good enough job compared to other brands. Nike is 25 years younger and they did their job a little better. But we have all the ingredients. And the good thing is that we passed the COVID[-19] period establish ourselves again in performance. So now we have a good basketball business, we have a good running business, we have a good golf business, we have a good football business. Now is the time to be more aggressive on the lifestyle side.
Despite macroeconomic headwinds including inflation, wars and a looming recession, Gulden said Puma “will swim against all the negativity. We have so many good things to celebrate. I’m very proud of what June has done as it showcases the past and future of the brand and the whole metaverse. There are so many exciting tools out there and we are happy to be in this industry because it combines fashion, comfort and performance. So I’m very optimistic.