Trivia tells us that the fastest big cat puma in the world can reach speeds of 50mph. Decent, granted. But the quickest the big capital letters PUMA has done is around 230mph plus change. How, you ask? Well, the German sportswear giant has long had a foot in the motorsports game, supplying shoes for racing drivers.
It all began in 1984, when racing driver Stefan Bellof wore a pair of high-cut shoes designed by PUMA. Quickly becoming his go-to footwear for putting pedal to metal, PUMA later officially entered F1 in 2001 and subsequently inked agreements with the likes of Kimi Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, all wearing the brand’s feline-sleek, ultra-streamlined shoes while on the circuit.
But while speed is obviously key to PUMA, the brand has also always made shoes that become holdfasts to subculture. It’s as much about fashion as being fast. And this is where the Speedcat, first launched in 1999, comes into play.
Moving F1 style from the racetrack and onto the streets, it became PUMA’s most-sold sneaker. It’s easy to see why: engineered using textiles from Sparco, the Italian racing gear manufacturer also got on the front of the ‘cat’s tongue, creating a statement emblem on the top of the shoe. The Speedcat is completed with dynamic stripes and has a super low profile, giving you ultimate comfort when driving – or just helping you bolt down the pavement at full pelt.
Of course, with F1 now being the fastest-growing sport in the world and finding itself in all walks of fashion, the Speedcat is enjoying a victory lap right now. Sported by all sorts of cool cats (Amelia Dimoldenberg, EmRata) and reimagined by the likes of Ferrari this year, it’s in pole position to be 2024’s biggest sneaker.
To mark the major influence the Speedcat has had – and will continue to have – on both speed and style, THE FACE asked some of its favourite independent creative institutions across the UK – SVARA Radio, FILES, Laces Out, Dunno. Curated and Bags of Flavor – to take the shoe for a spin.
Streaming live everyday from Liverpool’s inimitably cool creative hub Baltic Triangle, SVARA Radio is packed full of the city’s cutting-edge selectors and broadcasters. It only started during lockdown, but it’s already become a mainstay in Liverpool’s enviable dance music scene.
From coveted Japanese jackets to holy-grail Italian knits, London archive store FILES is a treasure trove of true vintage treats, featuring some of the best secondhand designer clobber in town. Your purse will hate you, your wardrobe will adore you.
Kickstarted as a trainer festival in 2014, the Liverpool event has become the UK’s biggest sneaker expo outside of London. Its Instagram is also a hotspot for sneakerhead memes, the latest drops and pictures of Paul Chuckle wearing Stüssy.
Based in Soho, Dunno is as much about creating a scene as it is curating its range of coveted vintage pieces. Printing original tees, putting on parties and running its own in-house studio, you’re missing out big time if you don’t know Dunno.
BAGS OF FLAVOR
Celebrating thirty years in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, vintage trove Bags of Flavor is a genuine institution. Head through its hallowed doors and you’ll find its limited-edition upcycled bags, killer retro sportswear and, naturally, some classic PUMA pieces.