For 73 years, PUMA has pushed
forward sports and culture
in remarkable fashion.

From the early days of innovating athletic footwear to the unforgettable introduction as one of the world’s first lifestyle sneakers, PUMA has long established itself as a tour-de-force of cultural impact.

The PUMA Suede in particular has resonated significantly with pop culture across the globe, finding permanent residence within the most prominent subversive communities and ultimately manifesting in today’s crop of young creative trailblazers by way of three very vital pillars: Legacy, Authenticity, and Expression. Our talented contributors, singer/songwriter NanaBcool, model Shannon Hui, stylists Taylor Okata and Haylee Ahumada, designer/model Walter Harvin, and photographer Myles Loftin, provide journal entries touching on what Legacy, Authenticity, and Expression means to them and how the PUMA Suede has influenced their lives.

Over the last five decades, PUMA has no doubt added to its wealthy heritage through the Suede’s impressive history. From pioneering activists of the 1960’s, basketball superstars of the 1970’s, New York City b-boys and skate legends of the 1980’s and 1990’s, to present day style icons and beyond, the PUMA Suede has undoubtedly established itself as a classic staple in the sneaker rotation for consumers of not just the past and the present, but For All Time.

JOURNAL:
NANABCOOL

JOURNAL:
NANABCOOL

What does legacy mean to you?

Making music is a legacy that has been passed through my family. Many of my family members attended Prempeh College, a boarding school in Kumasi, Ghana, where my father’s uncle, a piano teacher there, helped inspire a generation of musicians. Our name, Boamah, means “to help” in our native dialect. I carry this legacy with me in my soul.

I express my thoughts and experiences through sound, and part of the reason I take time to make my art is because once it’s out there, it’s out there. Legacy is how you share your gifts with others.

Whose legacy, if any in particular, do you cherish and revere most?

From family members to civil rights leaders to other musicians, everyone in their own way has led me back to Berry Gordy. His ability to bring people together and point out others’ strong suits has always been very admirable to me. There is power in realizing your own strengths, but there’s gold in realizing the strength in others then working to empower them as Gordy has done.

FIND YOUR FIT

Find the perfect Suede for you...

Find the Perfect Suede for you…

FOR ALL TIME

Words by Jordan Page

PUMA’s heritage sneaker, the PUMA Suede, came well before all of the hoopla, establishing itself at the core of culturally impactful moments for over 50 years now.

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Sneaker culture is more prevalent than ever with the footwear industry raking in over $70 billion annually. More brands are releasing more shoes at a faster pace and everyone is banking on their latest release becoming the next cult classic. PUMA’s heritage sneaker, the PUMA Suede, came well before all of the hoopla, establishing itself at the core of culturally impactful moments for over 50 years now. In that span of half a century, many sneakers have come and gone while the Suede’s footprint in society deepened. Not many shoes are in the same league as the Suede when it comes to cultural impact and resonance. But how did it get so influential? To answer this question, we must take a look back at the pivotal time it was created in.

The late 1960’s to early 1970’s was a definitive time in footwear history as that timeframe encompassed a rapidly shifting public opinion on when and how sneakers should be worn. Preceding this era, wearing sneakers outside of athletic events or gym class was seen as very counterculture and uncouth, but more and more people eventually began finding the casual and fashionable value in them while departing from the formal day-to-day shoes of previous generations. Dress codes became more relaxed, and sneakers became a bigger part of everyday life. Reflecting this new worldview on footwear, PUMA released what would become their first lifestyle shoe in 1968 helping jumpstart the casual sneaker trend that would forever change the course of fashion history.

Named for a mid-century German slang term given to a very skillful person or top player in a sport, “The Crack” was the original suede style that revolutionized sneaker design because prior to its release, canvas and leather were the only options for shoe uppers. Suede was considered a luxury fabric and was reserved for more formal wear and accessories. PUMA founder Rudi Dassler thought differently, understanding that a suede upper was more comfortable, versatile, and easier to dye for more color alternatives. The design was slightly different, not possessing the jumping PUMA cat or tongue tags that would be featured in the later renamed PUMA Suede. It was different than any shoe that came before and its launch was just the first step in the Suedes rich heritage that continued with one of the Civil Rights movement’s most well-known sports activists.

It was with a brave act of political protest that PUMA Suede’s cult status was born. In the summer of 1968, during his record breaking 200-meter dash medal ceremony, 24-year-old Tommie Smith along with compatriot, John Carlos, raised their black leather glove clad fists – in a gesture later defined as the “Black Power salute” – to call attention to the grave injustices still being committed against African Americans in the post-Jim Crow era. What was considered an act of defiance at the time led to one of the most iconic photos in sports history as PUMA became etched in a piece of sporting history. PUMA sponsored countries were supplied their new lifestyle sneaker in blue and white, but since the U.S. kits were not PUMA made, Smith received the secondary black and white pair. While not his choice, this particular colorway was ultimately more fitting for the depth and enduring importance of Smith’s demonstration, so much that in late 2020, PUMA honored the legacy of Smith’s protest by releasing an uber limited Made-In-Italy run of the timeless black and white color way that was by his side on the podium. Smith’s heroic act set the stage for future generations of sports stars to use their platforms to speak up about a variety of social issues.

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“DECADES LATER,
WE SEE THE PUMA
SUEDE’S LEGACY
CONTINUE TO GROW
AND BE LEGITIMIZED...”

Decades later, we see the PUMA Suede’s legacy continue to grow and be legitimized by being aligned with authentic and expressive individuals that stood for something and were on the brink of change. From its epic introduction on a world stage in 1968 to its ability to be embraced by today’s youth as they find their own voice with fashion, the Suede has made an indelible mark in history as a shoe for all time.

JOURNAL:
SHANNON HUI

JOURNAL:
SHANNON HUI

What does legacy mean to you?

Legacy is all about the humanity derived from relationships: who are you and what do you do to positively impact the lives of those around you? In what ways will that influence last? Legacy comes from people who think outside of themselves —past the individual — for the collective.

Whose legacy, if any in particular, do you cherish and revere most?

The legacy I cherish most is the one my grandparents created. With almost no help or resources, they moved across the world, from a country they called home, to create a new life and better opportunities for their children.

Their story is one of grit and courage, of giving back, investing in communities, and navigating every room with a humble spirit. Through sacrifice and struggle, they birthed new generations with unlimited potential.

JOURNAL:
MYLES LOFTIN

JOURNAL:
MYLES LOFTIN

Keeping it real isn’t easy, especially with societal pressures to “fit in” feeling ubiquitous. How do you personally remain true to yourself? And when do you feel most yourself?

I personally remain true to myself by trying my best not to think about what other people think of me. When you focus too much on the opinions of others, you may start to become someone that you are not by behaving in ways others want you to rather than how you most comfortably feel.

I try my best to ignore the opinions of others that would lead me to become someone that I am not. The most authentic version of me is when I am creating art. I feel most myself when I’m taking pictures for personal projects or for commercials and editorials because I am at my most expressive when I’m being creative.

What’s your advice for someone who’s having trouble embracing who they are?

My advice is to seek out different people in communities that make you feel safe and make you feel seen. When you are surrounded by people who appreciate you and your existence, it helps you better appreciate yourself and your own beauty.

THE ELEVATED ALTERNATIVE

Words by Jordan Page

Authenticity is the quality of being undisputed and real.

It’s the ability to be in almost any environment regardless of tone and despite external pressure of conformity.

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The PUMA Suede’s ability to navigate such a wide variety of spaces lies within its timeless design. The minimal construction consisting of a suede upper, leather overlays, gold foil branding and a sturdy rubber sole has not changed in its 53-year history. This classic composition along with a low-cut silhouette allows the sneaker to transcend hardcore trends and make it wearable with almost any ensemble, from a t-shirt and jeans to a perfectly tailored suit. For decades, the Suede has been the prime partner for the fashion forward, never outshining its wearer but instead appropriately complementing them while allowing their individuality to be expressed as authentically as possible. And now, a new generation of young cultural and style icons like Cordae, Rhuigi Villasenor, Kid Super, and Taylor Okata have taken the torch and are continuing to keep the Suede’s legacy as an elevated sneaker alternative moving forward.

Today’s NBA tunnel can be seen as a catwalk of sorts where the world’s top basketball stars can express their personal style before handling business on the court. This concept of the sartorially conscious hooper isn’t exactly new though. Backtracking to the early 1970’s, legendary New York Knicks point guard Walt “Clyde” Frazier was authentically expressing his unique fashion sense almost 50 years before today’s stars and all while wearing PUMA. In 1972, PUMA signed an endorsement deal with Frazier making him the first sports star with his name on a pair of sneakers. He wanted a versatile low top sneaker that accommodated his on and off court style along with the condition that he had a hand in personalizing his namesake shoe. He allegedly conjured up almost 400 different color ways that were used to dress Clyde throughout his career. Frazier, with his flamboyant suits and wide brim hats, had a color for every occasion.

By the mid 1980’s, breakdancing had become New York City’s unofficial pastime. Two of the most revered crews battling it out for b-boy supremacy, The NYC Breakers and Rock Steady Crew, adopted the PUMA Suede as part of their uniform. Both squads were particularly fond of wearing the cat logo from head to toe. Having a tough rubber sole and roomy toe box, the Suede seemed as though it was created just for the hard-hitting conditions of breakdancing, while its classic design synced up nicely with the existing aesthetic of hip-hop fashion in the mid 80’s. The connection between hip-hop and the Suede was undeniable, and the sneaker’s popularity stateside was catching on with foreign breaking crews, so much so that the British branch of PUMA dubbed the shoe the “States” for its first U.K. launch.

Fast forwarding to the very early 1990’s, skateboarding and its accompanying subculture had burst on to a national stage via magazines, skate shops and a fully formed fashion scene that was in part influenced by hip-hop. San Francisco in particular became a hub for the sport’s innovation and style. The Suede gained overnight notoriety as a skate shoe in the Bay Area first via legend Mike Carroll bringing back and skating in a pair he had purchased secondhand in San Diego. This cosign ultimately gave the Suede leverage to infiltrate and influence another subculture that would eventually become a heavy influence on today’s fashion scene.

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“THE SUEDE TRULY
EXISTS AS A SWEET SPOT
BETWEEN A CASUAL
SNEAKER AND A MORE
FORMAL HARD BOTTOM
DRESS SHOE.”

An arbiter of authentic expression, celebrity stylist and Hawai’i native Taylor Okata has had a lifelong connection with the PUMA Suede that started with an introduction years ago to him by his older sister, whose natural coolness was a stepping stone for his own interest in fashion. His personal style and relationship with the Suede was further refined as mainland hip-hop culture infiltrated the Hawaiian Islands and he became involved in dancing and b-boy culture. What Okata loves about the Suede today is its unaltered state as it remains very true to what he knew as a kid. These days, Okata wears the Suede a little differently than he did back in the day now matching a pair with brands the likes of Comme des Garçons and Marni for an effortless mix of casual and high fashion proving that the Suede truly exists as a sweet spot between a casual sneaker and a more formal hard bottom dress shoe. Its ability to reside in either extremes as well as the spaces in between is what makes it a cult classic and definitive style choice.

JOURNAL:
TAYLOR OKATA

JOURNAL:
TAYLOR OKATA

Keeping it real isn’t easy, especially with societal pressures to “fit in” feeling ubiquitous. How do you personally remain true to yourself? And when do you feel most yourself?

I never knew how to fit in and used to view that as an obstacle. But the more I remained true to myself, the more positivity I attracted in my life. So I just keep doing me and don’t compromise who I am.

Whether I’m in LA, New York or home in Hawai’i, I am most myself when I’m surrounded with people I love.

What’s your advice for someone who’s having trouble embracing who they are?

Your world will shift as soon as you begin embracing who you are. I was conditioned to believe that having feminine qualities, or dressing a certain way, or being too outspoken were negative aspects of myself. Then I realized that what others perceived as my drawbacks were actually my advantages.

JOURNAL:
WALTER HARVIN

JOURNAL:
WALTER HARVIN

When did you first notice you had something you wanted to express to the world? And, when did you identify your lane of expression?

Fashion has always been the natural way to express myself. When I was a junior in high school, I knew I didn’t want to be a designer or musician, so I identified my own lane of expression once I saw that I could give other people, younger and older, confidence to do the same.

Expressing personal style can be challenging. What advice or tips do you have for someone looking to switch their style up?

The best advice I can give is to do what you want and don’t seek validation from others. Be as original and authentic as possible, and if you are inspired by something or someone, give credit where it’s due.

SHAPE SHIFTERS

Words by Jordan Page

Self-expression can be
unpredictable.

Self-expression can be
planned.

Self-expression can be
colorful.

Self-expression can be
mute.

Read more

Self-expression can be many things, but one thing it always is, is a display of confidence. The confidence to unabashedly be who you are regardless of your surroundings and outside opinions. Stylists Walter Harvin and Haylee Ahumada are prime examples of what it means to be champions of uninhibited personal style and the PUMA Suede is the perfect companion for such audacious style icons.

Growing up in Harlem in the 2000’s and 2010’s, Walter realized he had a gift for expressing himself through clothing while in high school but the seeds for that expression were planted way before then. He cites Uptown natives The Diplomats and ASAP Mob as creative influences, but for as long as he can remember, his key motivation in fashion has been his mother. Showing him from a young age what it means to express yourself through clothing, Walter’s mom has always known not only what hot brands to wear, but how to best wear them. Now in a student-becomes-the-teacher moment, Walter’s mom is the one seeking fashion advice and his validation as she recognizes his growing status as one New York City’s up and coming fashion mavens.

The PUMA Suede connects to Walter’s self-expression through its status as a classic & highly versatile sneaker. As someone with an ever-changing sense of style, the Suede gives Walter the option to dress down or up, quiet or loud, whenever he steps out of his door. Preparing him for whatever scenario the day might throw his way. Whether it’s posting up on Avenue B with friends or hitting up an event downtown in Chinatown, wearing the Suede allows Walter to pay homage to his city by connecting him with the fashion forward New Yorkers of yesteryear that used to rock the Suedes in the 80’s and 90’s, or its previous iteration The Clyde in the 70’s.

Fashion is cyclical and Walter recognizes that. He knows he’s not the first to wear the PUMA Suede or even wear them well, but his mission is to own his own style and have fun while doing it. Funnily enough, Walter admits that he doesn’t care to or even like to be seen in his outfits. He dresses for himself and not to peacock for an audience. So even though he is having fun playing dress up, there is a genuine depth to his self-expression that ignores any affirmation he may receive from potential admirers of his style. All in all, Walter knows exactly who he is and shows it proudly.

For Haylee Ahumada, her self-expression in dress manifests as something very experimental and emotionally conscious. What she wears on any given day really depends on how she feels when she rolls out of bed that morning. You might be on the receiving end of a sleek all black ensemble or she may throw a bold hot pink and neon orange camo-print outfit square in your face. Her mood is the deciding factor.

Like Walter, Haylee’s aha moment for fashion came about in her teen years. Having attended a vocational high school, Haylee was on track to be a veterinarian when a teacher sat her down to let her know she was likely choosing the wrong the career path and that maybe fashion should be her focus. Having a keen sense of style was a part of who Haylee was but she never thought a career in fashion was possible even though she spent a lot of her formative years helping friends and family members develop their sense of style. Now she spends her days dressing a deep roster of celebrity clientele who have built immense trust in her for her unique fashion sense and self-expression.

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“WHAT SHE WEARS ON
ANY GIVEN DAY REALLY
DEPENDS ON HOW
SHE FEELS WHEN SHE
ROLLS OUT OF BED THAT
MORNING.”

The aforementioned unique fashion sense and self-expression evolved out of resourcefulness.

In a very necessity-is-the-mother-of-panache kind of way, Haylee and her high school friends would check in with each other before school and other big outings to make sure they were all fly. Filling in each other’s gaps to help pull together dope outfits as a unit. From this, came the astute ability to mix various genres of fashion all together to round out her vibrant personal style. Freshly moved to Los Angeles, you may find Haylee strolling down Sunset Boulevard in an off-the-runway ensemble, vintage gold jewelry and a crisp pair of PUMA Suedes and that’s just one of many ways she chooses to assert her style in this world.

JOURNAL:
HAYLEE AHUMADA

JOURNAL:
HAYLEE AHUMADA

When did you first notice you had something you wanted to express to the world? And, when did you identify your lane of expression?

Since I was young, I always felt I had something to express to the world -- through clothing, through accessorizing, through how I did my hair. I'm not a very talkative person, so I let my wardrobe speak for itself. My wardrobe choices reflect my mood better than my words can.

In high school it became obvious that fashion was my lane. It was then that I truly started to come into my own and understand the person I wanted to be.

Expressing personal style can be challenging, what advice or tips do you have for someone looking to switch their style up?

Experimenting is how you find what works for you and what doesn't. Try all the things you've always been interested in trying. There are no rules! I switch up my style every morning when I wake up.