Of late and longing sneaker brands, Puma sits comfortably out of the fray of giants like Nike and Adidas but pops its head up regularly to remind us of the brand’s heritage and legacy in the sneaker game with novel releases and throwback retros. Now they might not be the current go-to sneaker company at the moment, but there’s plenty of heat sitting in their archives whether you’re looking for another Dad sneaker, archival silhouette, or super slept on collab.
Their history in the world of basketball and lifestyle is long and storied. They’ve endorsed hardwood heroes like Ralph Sampson and Walt “Clyde” Fraizer and as of late they’ve even jumped on the “Dad” sneaker wave, resurrecting their 80s and 90s lifestyle runners as well as introducing new silhouettes for the modern market.
Puma’s been banking heavily on chunky runners dominating the scene and even took a stab at relevance and newsworthiness with a new basketball silhouette a couple of years ago in 2018. Puma does have some other highlights like collabs with Diamond Supply Co. Rihanna, and Ronnie Feig, not to mention an ongoing relationship with Mercedes F1 driver, Lewis Hamilton. (Here’s his Sneaker Shopping episode that he turned into a promo for the brand) Despite what you know (or don’t) about the brand, there’s plenty of great sneakers and stories from the performance and lifestyle brand that you’ve been missing out on. So One37PM is here to set the record straight and take a hard look at what Puma has to offer in the form of 14 Puma sneakers that are worth your admiration, time, and purchasing power.
The Puma Suede Classic is one of those sneakers you probably ended up owning at some point in your life. This low top icon is made from a simple upper of suede with leather hits on the formstripe logo and a molded rubber outsole. What started as a 60s basketball warm-up shoe turned into a 90s hip hop staple and then found a secure footing as a casual lifestyle silhouette for more modern times. The Suede Classic has been an integral part of the brand’s lifestyle arm as a simple sneaker but has also enjoyed a run as a great canvas for creative collaboration. Below is their collaboration with Diamond Supply Co. but other versions of the sneaker see details like Swarovski crystals, a leather upper from MCM, an homage to Karl Lagerfeld, and a west coast skateboard spin courtesy of Santa Cruz skateboards, to mention a few options currently available.
The Puma Cell Endura is everything we love about 90s runners and everything the current sneaker climate is craving. Extra chunky and super white, the sneaker features tasteful touches of neon green and black accenting throughout with a flexible and forgiving mesh upper. The sneaker’s distinctive eyelets and 90s Cell running technology helps this sneaker stand out. The outsole also features a distinctive hexagonal pattern while the midsole boasts visible air units and a throwback formstripe Puma logo that’s perfectly understated.
While older sneakerheads may be familiar with the brand’s heritage and 90s running style, newfound fans of Puma may not be so knowledgeable. Puma’s attempt to cash in on 2018 Dad hype saw the brand release the Thunder Spectra, a chunky silhouette that turned some heads and gave those respective heads something to pay attention to. The stand out silhouette features an extra bulbous midsole atop an upper of mesh with suede and leather overlays. The black formstripe blends in well with the black mesh of the toe box while a bold color blocking of blue, red, and yellow accent the rest of the sneaker’s shape.
Puma took a deep dive into their archives with the RS-X, a retro in reference to the RS running system technology of the brand’s 80s releases. The RS-X has been remixed and remastered with modern updates to the materials and technology. The versatile sneaker has seen a slew of colorways and collabs, letting sneakerheads have their pick, Transformers and MTV are just some of the collaborative options. My personal favorite is the RS-X³ which features a warm blue gradient pattern that starts hot on the toe and fades to a tonal mix of black, gray, and white as it reaches the heel cup and ankle collar of the sneaker.
It’s no secret that Nike’s waffle runner is as famous as sneakers can get but the Swoosh wasn’t the only brand serving up that simplistic style of the ’80s running technology. Enter Puma’s Future Rider. A simple rubber, waffle print outsole meets a mesh upper with suede overlays for a dash of style in what is otherwise a performance silhouette (or used to be anyway). The Future Rider offers up some bold yet straightforward color scheme of red, blues, and neutral tones to give the sneaker a played down look that still uses a proper splash of color. Not to mention the Future Rider comes with a much more palatable price tag than some of the other waffle runner options.
2018 was a big year for Puma and few of their releases were as visible or striking as their collab with Rihanna’s Fenty brand which created the Puma Cleated Creeper. A standout in its “Surf” colorway, the sneaker was one of several silhouettes released in collaboration but it’s bright clash of blue and green all atop a translucent midsole and treaded outsole made it one for the record books and strengthens the conversation about Puma’s collaborative clout and ability to draw attention to the brand.
Another hit straight from Puma’s 80s archive is their on-court performance silhouette the Puma Sky, reformed and remade as a casual lifestyle model that pays homage to the hardwood while bringing a luxury touch to the high-top sneaker. The shoe has some great details like a leather upper with suede as well as a perforated toe box. Their 2020 collab with Public Enemy is as relevant as ever and hits of red on the respective logo brandings as well as “Fight the Power” on the ankle collar bring the collab, and its message, full circle.
Body: Puma’s recent resurgence in the basketball and lifestyle world has been noteworthy but original fans of the brand have always known Puma to be a trailblazing organization in the world of professional athletes. Their most notable and easily recognizable of course is that of Walt “Clyde” Frazier a bball star of the early 60s who signed one of the first-ever athlete endorsement deals with Puma. He sported a leather low top sneaker that went on to become the Clyde, an updated version of the classic suede for performance. The sneaker transcended the hardwood and went on to become something of a streetwear icon, young New Yorkers saved every dollar to meet the original $25 price point. The most recent version of the sneaker is available for $65 and features the same leather and suede it was known for but also includes the added detail of a gold foil on the lateral side to give the iconic sneaker an elevated lifestyle touch.
Puma’s singing of Walt Frazier was a big step for athlete endorsements and signature silhouettes. Following suit with aligning the brand to on-court greatness, they snagged the endorsement of Houston Rockets’ Ralph Sampson, giving the 80s basketball star his own sneaker. The effortless style of the vintage model is timeless and with a variety of Lo and Mid style silhouettes to choose from fans of the brand and Ralph’s game can sport it with ease. A leather upper matches well with suede accenting and no one can overlook his gold foil signature on the side of the sneaker.
After a lengthy hiatus, Puma finally made their way back into the performance world with the Puma Clyde Court, paying homage to the influencer who started it all for Puma. The new model embodied the spirit and ethos of the first Clyde sneaker but with the top-level swagger and tech to compete with other on-court silhouettes. The sneaker was also meant to disrupt the current basketball sneaker market with its loud OG colorways, below a mashup of yellow, red, and black can be snagged for just over $100 while another “South Beach” colorway of bright blue and pink is worth noting.
Originally debuted in 1998 Puma’s Cell Alien was intended to bring a running tech so advanced to the world that it was alien to the inferior product of the modern market. Whether Puma succeeded in doing so can be argued but you’d be hard-pressed to find a true 90s runner who disliked the Alien. Slated for a resurgence this ‘98 silhouette was a perfect retro for the year 2019, where 90s runners saw a restoration of their former glory. Visible air meets white mesh meets a bright color scheme meets overlays of suede. Everything you love about a simple, everyday sneaker but at half the price.
The Puma Disc Blaze is one of those sneakers that simply doesn’t get enough credit. While unique lacing systems like Reebok’s pump soared to the forefront of the culture, Disc Blaze, a twist tightening system from Puma, didn’t truly get the attention it deserved. Despite that the sneaker was still the subject for a hot threeway collab between Ronnie Feig’s Kith, Puma, and French fashion house Colette (RIP). While other iterations of the sneaker are available for a much lower price point, there’s only one with a blue gradient and Kith’s founder’s signature on the heel cup.
For all the walks down memory lane about Puma’s 80s running tech, we would be remiss to not mention the Puma RS-100, so let’s get into it a little bit. What started out as a simple running sneaker from 1986 got an incredibly cool addition in the form of a chunky block heel which acted as a module for holding data. Runners could log this data by connecting their sneakers to their computer, a truly impressive tech that came decades before Nike’s bright idea to hook up your run to your iPod via Nike + in 2006. The model didn’t see much success but a limited retro in 2019 as well as a collab with designer/artist collective Adder Error in 2018 paid homage to the computer sneaker with a chunky plastic heel block that didn’t connect to a computer but looked just as good if not better.
The Puma Blaze of Glory dropped in the early 2010s and featured a new look for the brand known for its Formstripe logo that this new silhouette came without. Instead of focusing on logo hits, the brand went hard with collabs which include boutiques like Size? and Bodega but few were as polarizing as their multiple collaborations with Sneaker Freaker Magazine. Four sneakers, all about sharks. Sole Collector even included them as some of the best shark themed sneakers, and below is “Bloodbath” the best color scheme of the four available.