Puma considers its past, present and future


When I spoke with Puma’s creative director June Ambrose on Zoom days before the brand’s Futrograde fashion show held during NYFW, she didn’t want to spoil anything. Instead, she told me I’d know her favorite runway moment when I saw it.

And while I couldn’t confirm with her, I’m pretty sure I spotted it when the world’s fastest man in a black tie logo tracksuit took the fastest stride. slower than he’s probably ever taken in front of an audience. I don’t know anything about sports – I identified all the other athletes (of which there were many) at the show, held last Tuesday night at Cipriani on Broadway, by their height – but even I blurted out an audible gasp when I saw Usain Bolt on the track. The fact that he is 6ft 5in has nothing to do with it.

Usain Bolt and model Winnie Harlow at the Puma Futrograde show.

Taylor Hill

I shouldn’t have been shocked, in hindsight. Ambrose’s 30-year career began styling music videos; she not only put hip-hop stars in head-to-toe looks, but also created some of the most iconic fashion moments in music history from the ground up. She created Missy Elliot’s patent leather inflatable bodysuit for “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” and P. Diddy’s costume for “Mo Money Mo Problems”..” Her work with Puma also dates back to the 90s. “I designed this look for Missy [in the ’90s] it was a leather tracksuit and I thought ‘Oh, I need a pair of old school Puma California [sneakers]”, she told me. “I was the first to bring back something so nostalgic at the time.” In 2020, Ambrose was named creative director of the brand, and she launched her first women’s basketball collection a year later.If there was anyone who could get Usain Bolt on the track, it would be her.

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But besides getting fashion editors in the audience to rub shoulders with athletes with long limbs, what did Puma’s show – its first time on the official calendar without Rihanna’s Fenty – bring to Fashion Week? ? When I pointed out that most people don’t associate Puma with a catwalk, Ambrose was quick to notice how the brand is rooted in the same street culture that is now on the mood board. from all the major high-end fashion brands.

“You know that nice strong line on the side of the pants or on the side of the track jacket? You’ve seen it pop up at other high fashion brands as a staple, but it’s a staple that Puma had in the brand since its inception. Futrograde aimed to celebrate Puma’s 75-year history and how hallmarks of the brand, like that beautiful, solid line, have impacted wider culture.

At a young age, Ambrose saw the iconic T7 stripe and signature logo as a way to identify the people she grew up with. “I’m from the Caribbean and West Indians love Puma so every time my family traveled we saw this cat bounding all over the airport in different cities.” Puma’s influence, she explained, has always been powerful, but even more so these days, when “urban culture is now the dominant culture”. What Ambrose knew as a child sounds like something that has become conventional wisdom in 2022: Puma is more than a brand you wear while playing sports.

Futrograde was meant to demonstrate the brand’s versatility. Unlike any other show that took place during New York Fashion Week, it had three different chapters, each starting with a choreographed dance performance. The first chapter was a modern take on Puma’s past and started with a model wearing a look inspired by The Royal Tenenbaums Richie: A logo turtleneck with matching headband worn with a beige textured tracksuit (i.e. striped suit) and fur overcoat. There were other riffs on classic Puma pieces, like a red leather tracksuit and sneakers turned into knee-high boots.

new york, new york sept 13 a model walks the runway for the puma fashion show in september 2022 new york fashion week the catwalks september 13 2022 in new york photo by fernanda calfatgetty images for nyfw the catwalks

A model wearing a Puma tracksuit with a fuzzy overcoat.

Fernanda Calfat
new york, new york sept 13th A model walks the runway during the puma presents futrograde fashion show during new york fashion week at cipriani 25 broadway on september 13, 2022 in new york city photo by taylor hillwireimage

A model wearing Puma creepers reworked into high boots.

Taylor Hill

The second segment focused on Puma’s present and the brand’s international reach through its recent collaborations, which reminded me of Ambrose’s memory of travelers in tracksuits at the airport. Wouldn’t it be great if we all traveled with the retro burgundy loafers and the big cat-shaped bouffant hat (made with the Spanish brand Palomo)? Pieces from Puma’s partnership with AC Milan football team and French brand Koché also appeared on the catwalk.

new york photo by udo salterspmc via getty images

A model wearing the Puma x Palomo collaboration.

Udo Salters

As expected, the show’s final section was all about the future, with some bizarre pieces that perfectly capture the unease many of us feel about all that is to follow in our current unprecedented times.. The black puffer skirt with sleeve appendages worn on the catwalk by Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma certainly looked apocalypse-perfect.

new york, new york sept 13th A model walks the runway during the puma presents futrograde fashion show during new york fashion week at cipriani 25 broadway on september 13, 2022 in new york city photo by taylor hillwireimage

Basketball player Kyle Kuzma wearing a puffer puffer skirt.

Taylor Hill

Ambrose also mentioned a Web3 experience unveiled alongside the show and an NFT that unlocked access to exclusive sneakers. But more interesting than the technology was an AI of its own making. “I wanted to create something fresh and magical for a track experience that really leverages our AI, our authentic intelligence.” And she’s right, there was nothing contrived about her NYFW debut, filled with elaborate dance routines and celebrity cameos you wished you could rewind. “By the end of the show, you feel, hopefully, Okay, that was music video shit.


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