Puma's latest collaboration with revived streetwear brand En Noir looks to further their foothold in the fashion world in an era where sneakers and the runway are more connected than ever before. The project comes at a time when Puma is attempting to better invade the spaces of fashion and pop culture through partnerships with the likes of Rihanna, The Weeknd, and Kylie Jenner. David Ballin, Puma's head of regional creation for North America, says that a label like En Noir is the next logical step.
"We look to partner with people that have their own space, their own identity. What we look to do is not to disrupt what they're already doing, but enhance it," Ballin told Sole Collector in an interview this week. "If they can tell that story and drive that message then they're an asset we need to align ourselves with."
From En Noir's side of things, it was important that the shoes go beyond simply slapping a logo on existing Puma models.
“This relationship happened organically at the right time where I think Puma was ready for a brand like En Noir to be able to be authentic to our brand and utilize the platform of what they built," said Rob Garcia, designer and creative director for En Noir.
Puma's focus on the fashion world can be attributed in part to its to being under the umbrella of Kering Group, which also houses luxury brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent Paris, and Bottega Veneta.
"That's our family. So the influence they give us and the sports influence we give them meets somewhere in the middle, and we create these beautiful projects," said Ballin.
The two-shoe collaboration consists of the Ignite EvoKnit model ($180) and the classic Puma Clyde ($110), both dressed in all black. The Ignite EvoKnit features a sock-like knit upper and a nylon cage around the heel. The Clyde is dressed in a nubuck suede with a leather inner lining. The "Carpe Noctem" pack is inspired by nightlife, and shows how traditional performance sneakers can transition into a more casual setting.
"You know these shoes can run, they can perform, they can do everything technically that running shoes do, but aesthetically they’re way more pleasing to the eye than our traditional running footwear," said Ballin.
The Puma x En Noir collection is available now at boutique accounts and big box stores like Footaction.