When a sportswear giant and a streetwear trail-blazer embark on a long-term, multi-chaptered partnership, you know you’re in for a tonne of treats. PUMA and UNDFTD haven’t disappointed as Chapter Three of their collabo’ unfolds.
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Once upon a time there was Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier, an internationally-renowned, world-beating, New York Knicks basketball player. In ’73 fast-footed Frazier joined forces with one of the leading sport shoe manufacturers of the day PUMA, on the eponymous Clyde sneaker. Built on performance and style, it became a fixed feature from the courts to the sidewalks. Nearly forty years later and Clyde’s getting a face-lift, courtesy of the sickeningly hip folk at LA-based streetwear mecca, UNDFTD. With the City of Angels undergoing a well-heeled, underground uprising, the UNDFTD lads lead the charge.
A year in the making, with sketches and prototypes flying here, there and everywhere, the folk at PUMA and UNDFTFD were delighted to unveil chapter one back in April 2011. Throw forward ten months, the first release of the 2012 collection; the PUMA x UNDFTD x Snakeskin Clyde takes the sneaker staple in a more reptilian direction. As they hop-scotched around Europe, i-D online caught-up with the UNDFTD trio of Eddie Cruz, James Bond, KB Lee (the silent but deadly one) for a quick tête à tête on a stop-over in Paris.
What were you looking to change up for the third PUMA drop?
JB: Like with everything it’s taken a while to get really into it, and I think we’re getting better as it goes on. You know it’s like anything, you practice your jump shot everyday and it becomes like second nature, like muscle memory, brain memory and… design memory.
EC: Yeah like the first time we did our sweatpant, it was probably too baggy but as you go along you make adjustments and now it’s perfect.
When you’re working on the Clyde what is it that you’ve learnt from in the past and what are you referencing along the way?
JB: The shoe’s so simple and it ties back to some historical moments in streetwear, b-boy culture for example, but even beyond that how Walt Frazer was a fashion icon in the 70s, you take that and kind of have to go with your heart. These were done over a year ago and at that time who knows what kids are going to want to wear now?! Now we’re designing SS13, who knows what they’ll want to wear then? We just have to do ‘us’ and hope that our brand’s strong enough and our idea is strong enough that people continue to support it.
How influenced are you by what people are wearing?
JB: I’d say not too much.
EC: I’d say almost zero…
JB: If you’re reactionary and chasing you’re never going to be able to get to the front. We just kind of do us.
Where is it that you look to for inspiration then?
JB: By default I think right now LA is inspiring a lot of the world, five years ago it is was Japan and before that New York. I think it’s just the lifestyle is what’s inspiring people. Everyone’s into relaxed fit, you know that whole Americana taste, all these original workwear brands… Then soon attention will shift back onto New York, then Europe and then on from there.
Is the new, younger generation of UNDFTD fans someone you’re pitching to with this collaboration?
JB: If you read the blogs they don’t understand what the shoe meant to the culture, they have their own thoughts on how it should been done. That’s a tendency the youth culture have, everyone has a comment about something.
EC: The kid who’s 18 – 25 doesn’t know who Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazer. Puma were smart to partner with us on this because it gives that young kid a little bit of knowledge and has them thinking “The Clyde is relevant… It’s as relevant as the Air Force One or the Superstar 80…”