Normski caught up with PUMA UK sales Manager Jon Bond to talk about the PUMA States ahead of their upcoming re-release on Friday 14th March.
Normski: Jon Bond it’s a pleasure to meet you. My first question to you is what exactly do you do for PUMA?
Jon: I’m the UK Sales Manager for PUMA Select, which essentially means I manage the team tasked with placing our most premium lifestyle products within key influencer accounts.
How long have you been working here?
I’ve been in this role for around 5 months, but I’ve been with the brand for approaching 4 years now.
When was your first experience with PUMA, whether it be the brand or the Suede when you were growing up?
My first pair of PUMA’s were actually football boots. I have always been massively into football and as a kid I had a pair of PUMA Maradona and I suppose I developed a bit of an affinity with the brand from there. I’ve had plenty of pairs over the years and the Suede was always a shoe that I associated the brand with and that’s why this project is so exciting for me.
It’s quite interesting that you say your first introduction with PUMA’s was probably seeing them running up and down a football pitch. Was that on television, or in real life?
A bit of both really. As a brand, PUMA are lucky enough to have had some of the greatest players ever to have played the beautiful game wearing their boots; Pele, Maradona, Eusebio, Cruyff and while I’m not old enough to have seen the likes of Pele play, seeing Maradona as a kid was incredible. It’s easy to see why I wanted to play football and why I associated with the brand from such a young age, even if it was from a sports point of view rather than the lifestyle perspective that we are talking about today.
Can you remember what you were like growing up, what kind of music you were into and stuff?
Growing up, like most kids I listened to whatever my parents were into, but by the time I hit secondary school I had already become obsessed with hip-hop. I remember making friends with a lad at school 2 or 3 days in, bonding over the rappers we were into and for the next 10 years or so I wasn’t really interested in listening to anything else. While my musical taste has certainly evolved over the years, I still have a love for all things hip-hop.
From a brand point of view why have PUMA decided to bring back the States?
The PUMA States is a very iconic shoe for the brand. The Suede has been back in the marketplace for around 3 years now and has done a fantastic job in elevating PUMA and putting the brand back at the forefront of consumers’ minds. So it’s now the perfect time to bring back the PUMA States as it’s more of an evolvement from the PUMA Suede.
Can you explain how the PUMA States differ from the PUMA Suede?
Essentially, the States is a more premium execution of the Suede, with the main differences being across the sole unit, tongue and upper itself. The PUMA States has a more vintage feel with an off white execution of the sole unit and laces and the tongue is foam backed. The collar has been produced with a perforated leather lining and the grade of suede used on the upper is of a higher quality.
What do you like about the PUMA States personally?
It’s just such a clean, easy and wearable shoe. I guess if you’re an older guy, there’s a heritage in them heavily linked with hip-hop and b-boy culture and where the shoes originated from. There’s a lot to get excited about – great colours, a strong story and a great execution of an iconic PUMA shoe.
What is it about PUMA States that makes them so popular?
For me it’s a few things; the fat laces, the brand, it’s where the shoe came from and perhaps most importantly it’s the great story of where the name originated. The story highlights the heritage of PUMA, almost documenting where we came from to where we find ourselves today. It’s an iconic shoe for any sneaker head, and whether you’re a fan of the brand or not, everyone should know PUMA Suede’s or PUMA States.
It’s like going into a toy shop and you know straight away that’s the one you want!
I think the nice thing about this re-release is the marketplace is full of crazy looking silhouettes, particularly when you’re talking about Running and Basketball, but the PUMA States… this is just a clean, simplistic sneaker that anyone can wear.
With the PUMA States being an import to the UK, how do you think that the UK has put their stamp on it as oppose to the US?
The UK has its own identity and the culture here encourages people to be individual, particularly when it comes to fashion. In the case of the PUMA States, that means how you wear it and what you wear it with.
There are a lot of different styles but are there any other sneakers you can think of that is similar?
Not really, certainly not with the back story this shoe has. It’s iconic and individual. Let’s not forget that while this shoe was made iconic by b-boys, it was historically a basketball shoe that came from another iconic silhouette – the Clyde. Looking at basketball shoes now, the Suede or States are nothing like the modern day equivalent, standing them aside from the competition.
So, fat laces or thin laces?
If you’re talking about historically then its fat laces all the way, that’s the lace that’s directly linked to the history of the brand and the silhouette in particular. The great thing about this release is they will also be supplied with a thin lace, giving the option to style it as you want to.
The PUMA States in red/white, forrest/white and navy/white will be launching on Friday 14th March online at 8.00am GMT via direct links on our Facebook, Twitter and a dedicated e-mail newsletter. It will also be available in all size? stores on the day (from their respective opening hours) priced at £60.