History Of Puma

Puma: From Cleats to Culture – An Amazing History Of Puma

Puma, one of the world’s leading sportswear brands, has come a long way since its inception in 1948. From its humble beginnings as a small company in Germany to a global giant, Puma has been redefining the sports and fashion industry for over 70 years. 

Today, Puma is recognized as an innovative, fashion-forward brand that prioritizes sustainability, diversity, and inclusivity. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history of Puma and discover how it became the brand we know and love today.

Founding and Early Years (1924-1950)

The Dassler brothers started making sports shoes in their mother’s laundry room in the small village of Herzogenaurach in Germany, in 1924. Adolf focused on shoe production, while Rudolf handled business and marketing. Their shoes were popular, and their business quickly expanded. Adolf focused on creating innovative designs using new materials, while Rudolf focused on management.

The brothers’ partnership lasted until 1948, when they decided to split due to ideological differences. Their split resulted in two different companies: Puma, founded by Rudolf, and Adidas, founded by Adolf. Rudolf registered Puma on 1 October 1949, releasing the first Puma football boot in 1950. From then on, Puma has established itself as a brand synonymous with quality and innovation.

In 1952, Puma made its first foray into the Olympics, producing customized running spikes for the Finnish national team. They made history by winning one gold, three silver, and one bronze. Puma soon became a household name and was seen as a symbol of top-quality sports gear.

Puma continued with its innovative approach to footwear and apparel through the ’50s, introducing new materials like nylon, introducing a new spike technology in 1957. Puma was the first company to add dial technology to golf shoes with its PUMA Cobra shoe. Shortly, Puma became a symbol of innovation in the world of sportswear.

The Puma Brand Emerges (1950s-1960s)

The Puma brand traces its origins back to Germany back in 1948, where it was founded by Rudolf Dassler. It wasn’t until the late 1950s, however, that the brand started to increase its global reach. In that period, Puma began to cement its reputation as a high-quality athletic brand, thanks to a variety of partnerships with elite athletes worldwide.

One such partnership was with the legendary football player, Pele. In 1958, at just 17 years old, Pele wore Puma’s high-top soccer boots, leading Brazil to their first-ever World Cup victory. Not to mention, since then, Puma has been recognized as a reputable brand in the world of soccer shoes and has been designing well-liked soccer cleats for some of the world’s best athletes.

Another partnership that came to define the Puma brand’s identity was with the athlete, Tommie Smith. In 1968, at the Mexico City Olympic Games, Smith made history by winning the gold medal in the 200m race while wearing Puma’s popular Suede shoe. He and fellow runner John Carlos stood on the medal podium with gloved hands raised in a Black Power salute, becoming iconic symbols of the Civil Rights Movement, and forever connecting Puma with athletic and social justice movements.

In the 1960s, Puma developed its iconic form stripe logo, still a defining feature of Puma footwear today. This mark would be featured prominently on Puma’s upcoming iconic shoes, such as the Suede, Clyde, and Roma. These shoes were made famous by athletic feats and cultural icons, as well as regular individuals worldwide who appreciated the unique designs and comfort that Puma had to offer.

Puma’s iconic shoes continued to flourish throughout the 1960s, with athletes like sprinter Jim Hines and basketball player Walt Frazier becoming ambassadors of the brand, helping Puma establish itself in what is now known as streetwear culture. Thus began Puma’s expansion outside of sportswear and into the world of fashion.

Puma in the Golden Age of Sports (1970s-1980s)

Let’s start with the iconic Puma Suede. The Suede was introduced in 1968, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that it really took the world by storm. This shoe was a favorite among basketball players and quickly became the unofficial shoe of the B-Boy and hip hop subcultures. The Suede’s popularity continued into the 1980s and beyond, even appearing in movies like Beat Street and Wild Style.

Puma also made their mark in track and field during the 1970s. Sprinter Tommie Smith famously wore Puma spikes during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City when he raised his fist in the Black Power salute on the podium. But it was during the 1970s that Puma really became a dominant force in track and field. Athletes like Randy Williams, Dave Wottle, and Renaldo Nehemiah all wore Puma spikes with great success.

But Puma’s influence wasn’t limited to just basketball and track and field. In the 1980s, they were also a major player in the world of soccer. One of the most iconic soccer players of all time, Diego Maradona, wore Puma shoes during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. He would go on to lead Argentina to victory, and his performance in those Puma shoes is still talked about today.

Puma was also a favorite among tennis players in the 1970s and 1980s. Tennis greats like Boris Becker and Martina Navratilova wore Puma shoes and clothing during their careers. And who can forget the colorful Puma tennis outfits that became a trademark of that era?

Finally, we can’t talk about Puma in the golden age of sports without mentioning the Puma Clyde. The Clyde was originally designed for basketball player Walt “Clyde” Frazier in 1973. It quickly became a favorite among players and fans alike, thanks to its sleek design and comfortable fit. Even today, the Clyde is still a popular shoe among sneakerheads and basketball fans.

Puma’s Renaissance (1990s-2000s)

One of the key moments in Puma’s transformation in the 1990s was its collaboration with the hip-hop artist MC Shan. In 1990, Puma released the “MC Shan” sneaker, which featured a unique design that incorporated hip-hop style into the shoe. This collaboration was a turning point for the brand, as it made Puma more relevant to the growing hip-hop culture.

Another significant moment was Puma’s collaboration with designer Jil Sander in the late 1990s. Sander brought a new level of sophistication to Puma’s footwear, redesigning classic Puma silhouettes and giving them a high-end look and feel. This collaboration helped Puma establish itself as a fashion brand and made the brand more appealing to consumers who were looking for stylish and trendy footwear.

In the 2000s, Puma continued to branch out into lifestyle footwear, releasing a line of shoes that were designed for everyday wear. One of the most popular shoes from this line was the Puma Suede, which originally debuted in the 1960s as a basketball shoe. In the 2000s, Puma re-released the sneaker with updated materials and colors, making it a fashion staple that is still popular today.

Puma’s collaborations with popular artists and designers continued in the 2000s, with the brand partnering with musicians like Rihanna and Selena Gomez. Puma’s collaboration with Rihanna was particularly successful, with the “Fenty” line of clothing and footwear becoming a huge hit among consumers. These collaborations helped Puma reach a younger demographic and establish itself as a brand that was on-trend and relevant.

Puma in the 21st Century (2010s-Present)

One of the ways Puma has remained competitive in the 21st century is by offering products that meet the needs and expectations of modern consumers. For example, Puma has embraced the trend of athleisure and streetwear by introducing innovative product lines such as the Fenty by Rihanna collection and the Puma x Balmain collaboration. 

Additionally, Puma has expanded its product offerings beyond footwear to include apparel, accessories, and even smartwatches. This diversification has not only broadened Puma’s customer base but also provided ample opportunities for growth and revenue.

  • Marketing Strategies: Another way Puma has stayed relevant and competitive is by investing in innovative and engaging marketing strategies. One of the most notable marketing strategies Puma has adopted is their partnership with influential celebrities and athletes. For instance, Puma has worked with high-profile athletes such as Usain Bolt, Sergio Aguero, and Neymar Jr. who have helped to promote the brand and attract new customers. Additionally, Puma has leveraged social media platforms to reach and engage their target audience through campaigns such as #DoYou, which aims to inspire and empower women globally.
  • Collaborations: Puma has also been strategic in their collaborations with other brands, designers, and artists in the 21st century. By partnering with brands such as Amazon and Ferrari, Puma has been able to tap into new markets and audiences while also offering unique and stylish products. Additionally, Puma has collaborated with designers like Alexander McQueen, who has brought a touch of avant-garde to the brand’s footwear offerings. Collaborating with artists such as J. Cole and Kid Cudi has also given Puma an edge in the highly competitive sneaker market.
  • Sustainability Efforts: In recent years, Puma has made concerted efforts to be more environmentally and socially responsible in its operations and products. Puma’s first-of-its-kind Environmental Profit and Loss account not only tracks the brand’s carbon footprint but also sets targets for reducing environmental impact. In addition, Puma’s sustainable products such as the Puma X First Mile collection, which uses recycled plastic to create footwear and apparel, have helped the brand to appeal to consumers who are conscious about the environment.

Puma’s Impact on Culture and Fashion

Puma was first established in 1948 in Germany, and since then, it has come a long way in the fashion industry. The brand was initially known for its high-quality track and field spikes, but over the years, it has expanded to produce some of the most versatile and iconic sneakers in the market.

One of the things that make Puma stand out is its unique collaborations with celebrities, musicians, and fashion designers. Puma collaborations have seen names such as Rihanna, Selena Gomez, and Karl Lagerfeld. These collaborations have resulted in some of the most stylish and iconic sneakers that have become synonymous with the Puma brand.

Another significant impact Puma has made on fashion is its unconventional approach to design. Unlike other sportswear brands that tend to stick to a specific style and color palette, Puma has embraced more contemporary and fashion-forward designs, incorporating bold colors, patterns, and textures that appeal to a wide range of consumers. This approach has made Puma a brand that resonates with both athletes and fashionistas alike.

In addition to its fashion influence, Puma has made a significant impact on popular culture. The brand has been featured in several movies, music videos, and TV shows, further cementing its position as a cultural icon. Rappers and musicians such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Travis Scott have also been spotted wearing Puma sneakers, further extending the brand’s reach and influence.

What’s more, Puma has also shown a commitment to sustainability, with several eco-friendly initiatives such as its “Forever Better Initiative,” which pledges to create products that are both environmentally friendly and socially responsible. This commitment has earned Puma praise from consumers and fashion critics alike for its positive influence on the environment.

Puma’s Technological Innovations

Ignite Foam Technology: Puma’s Ignite Foam technology is a game-changer in the world of running shoes. This innovative foam provides high-energy return, excellent cushioning, and incredible comfort. Running on Ignite Foam gives you a feeling of bouncing on clouds, making your running experience more enjoyable and less impactful on your joints. Ignite Foam is used in Puma’s popular running shoe models, such as the Speed 500, the Hybrid, and the NITRO.

Netfit Technology: Puma’s Netfit technology makes it easy and versatile to customize the fit of your shoes to your liking. The Netfit upper is made of a grid of holes that allow you to thread the laces in various patterns. This way, you can adjust the fit of the shoe to fit your foot shape or running style. Netfit technology is available in Puma’s running, training, and football shoe ranges.

ProAdapt Technology: Puma’s ProAdapt technology is perfect for golfers who demand stability, support, and comfort in their shoes. The ProAdapt golf shoe features a high-tech sole plate that adapts to the contour of the ground, providing excellent grip on any surface. The shoe’s upper is made of premium leather that’s waterproof, breathable, and durable. The shoe’s fit is also adjustable with the PwrStrap system, which allows you to customize the tension of the straps around the midfoot for a secure and comfortable fit.

LQDCELL Technology: Puma’s LQDCELL technology is another groundbreaking innovation in the world of training shoes. This technology provides stability, cushioning, and flexibility in one shoe. The LQDCELL has a stable outsole with hexagonal cells that compress when you apply pressure, providing excellent cushioning and shock absorption. The upper is made of breathable mesh that hugs your foot, providing a snug fit and flexibility for multidirectional movements. The LQDCELL technology is used in Puma’s training and running shoe ranges.

HYBRID Technology: Puma’s HYBRID technology is a fusion of two of the world’s best cushioning technologies: Ignite Foam and NRGY beads. The combination of the two provides the ultimate comfort, responsiveness, and energy return to your stride. The HYBRID sole has a layer of Ignite Foam on the top that provides excellent cushioning and responsiveness, and a bottom layer of NRGY beads that provide a softer and bouncier feel. The HYBRID technology is available in Puma’s running and training shoe ranges.

Puma Beyond Sport: Philanthropy and Sustainability

Philanthropy: Puma has dedicated itself to supporting various charity organizations globally and giving back to society. One of the significant ways they have managed to achieve this is through #REFORM, a non-profit organization that supports social and environmental projects worldwide. These projects include supporting refugee integration in local communities and helping to fight poverty and inequality. When you purchase Puma’s eco-friendly products, you contribute to these charity initiatives through the percentage of sales that go to the #REFORM foundation.

Sustainable Materials: Puma recognizes that manufacturing processes can have detrimental effects on the environment and is, thus, committed to utilizing sustainable materials and practices. The brand uses organic cotton, recycled polyester, and other eco-friendly materials in its manufacturing process, all of which have significantly lower carbon footprints than regular fabrics. Puma has also embraced innovative technologies that utilize renewable sources of energy in their production. This move towards sustainable materials reduces carbon emissions and minimizes waste production, making the planet a better place to live in.

Resource Efficiency:  Puma has implemented effective resource efficiency techniques to conserve resources, reduce waste and lessen the environmental impact of production. One of these techniques is the use of the ‘closed-loop’ system in its product life cycle. This approach ensures that products are designed to be recycled or repurposed, thus minimizing the amount of waste produced. Puma has also introduced a recycling program to collect unwanted products and recycle the materials to create new items. These initiatives significantly contribute to ecosystem preservation, and we as Puma shoe users can also participate in this movement by recycling any shoes or accessories we no longer use.

Partnerships: Puma works with various organizations and individuals in the industry to ensure that its processes are sustainable and philanthropic. One of these partners is Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) – an NGO that promotes sustainable cotton production. Through this partnership, Puma ensures they source their cotton from BCI farmers who use sustainable farming techniques, thus reducing the environmental impact of cotton farming. Puma also partners with Usain Bolt – one of the greatest athletes in history, to promote sport, sustainability and education through the Usain Bolt Foundation. Puma consumers also get to contribute to these initiatives through the Bolt Legacy Collection, where a percentage of sales goes to the foundation.

Challenges and Triumphs: Navigating the Industry


One of the main challenges in the athletic footwear and apparel industry is the constant influx of new competition. There are new companies and brands popping up every year and it can be difficult to stand out in the market. Puma has had to navigate these challenges by constantly innovating and rebranding themselves to stay relevant. This has resulted in some hits and misses, but overall, Puma has been successful in maintaining their place in the industry.

Another challenge that is unique to the industry is keeping up with the latest trends and styles. It can be difficult to predict which trends will take off each season, but Puma has done a great job at staying on top of the latest styles and providing customers with what they want. By continuously updating their product lines and creating new designs, they have been able to stay ahead of the curve.


Despite the challenges, Puma has had several triumphs over the years. One major triumph was their partnership with Rihanna. The singer’s line of Puma products was extremely popular and helped to give the brand a trendy, edgy vibe. This was a major departure from their past image and helped to attract a new demographic of customers.

Another triumph that Puma has had is their successful collaborations with other brands and designers. They have worked with everyone from Ferrari to Alexander McQueen and have been able to create some truly unique and innovative products. These collaborations have helped to elevate the brand and has kept Puma relevant in the eyes of consumers.

Puma’s Global Influence

Puma was founded in Herzogenaurach, Germany, in 1948 by Rudolf Dassler, the elder brother of Adidas founder Adolf Dassler. The company’s name ‘Puma’ was inspired by the agile movements and strength of the big cat. From its early days, Puma established itself as a sports brand, producing high-quality athletic shoes for athletes. 

Puma was the first brand to introduce screw-in studs in football boots, a design that revolutionized the game and made Puma the go-to choice for footballers worldwide. The brand’s association with football continues to this day, with some of the world’s best footballers endorsing Puma, including Sergio Aguero, Neymar Jr, and Antoine Griezmann.

Puma’s global influence extends beyond the sports world and into the fashion industry. The Puma Suede, released in 1968, was a turning point for the brand. It was the first shoe designed for daily wear, making Puma a brand that people could wear beyond the sports field. 

The Puma Suede soon became a cultural phenomenon and was embraced by the emerging subculture movements of the 1970s, making it a symbol of rebellion and style. The shoe was worn by Punks, B-Boys, and Hip-Hop artists, and the brand’s association with music and fashion began. The Puma Suede is still popular and remains a staple of the Puma range today.

As Puma’s influence expanded, so did its collaborations with global brands. Collaborations with fashion houses like Alexander McQueen and designer labels like Fenty by Rihanna added a new dimension to Puma’s brand identity. 

Puma’s collaboration with Rihanna gained widespread attention for its bold and unique designs, with the Fenty Creeper and Fenty Slides quickly selling out worldwide. Puma’s collaborations continue to showcase the brand’s identity and culture and reinforce its position as a trendsetter.

Puma’s global influence continues to grow, with a presence in over 120 countries worldwide. The brand’s commitment to sustainability and ethical business practices has earned them respect and admiration from their customers. 

Puma has committed to sourcing environmentally friendly materials, removing hazardous chemicals from their manufacturing process and ensuring fair labor practices. Their Puma x First Mile range, launched in 2020, uses recycled plastics to create stylish shoes, further showcasing their dedication to sustainability.

The Puma vs. Adidas Rivalry (1950s-1960s)

The Dassler brothers, Adi and Rudolf, started making sports shoes in their mother’s laundry room in the early 1920s. By the 1930s, their shoes were being worn by athletes at the Olympic games. However, it wasn’t until after World War II that the brothers had a falling out. The exact cause of their dispute is unclear, but it’s said that it stemmed from political differences and tensions within their personal relationship.

In 1948, Rudolf left the company and started his own sports shoe company, which he named Puma. Adi continued to run the original company, which he eventually renamed Adidas (a combination of his own name and part of the word “Dasler”). The two brands became fierce rivals, with each brother trying to one-up the other in terms of style, technology, and marketing.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Puma and Adidas went head-to-head in the sports shoe industry. One of the most famous instances of this rivalry occurred during the 1966 World Cup final, when the entire England team wore Adidas shoes except for one player, who wore Puma. This subtle act of rebellion sparked a new level of competition between the two brands.

Despite their rivalry, both Puma and Adidas continued to innovate and push the limits of sports shoe design. In the 1960s, Puma released its iconic “Formstripe” logo, while Adidas introduced its “Superstar” and “Stan Smith” shoes, which are still popular today. This era of fierce competition led to some of the most iconic and innovative sports shoe designs of all time.

Today, Puma and Adidas are both thriving companies, with loyal fan bases and a long history of innovation. The Puma vs. Adidas rivalry may have started as a family feud, but it ultimately led to some of the most iconic and innovative sports shoe designs of all time. Whether you prefer Puma or Adidas, there’s no denying the impact that these two brands have had on the world of sports shoes.

Puma’s Future

Brand Strategies: Puma aims to be a brand that is “forever faster.” They want to keep pushing boundaries in style and design, expanding the influence of their athletes and ambassadors, and capitalizing on fast-growing markets. Part of their brand strategies is to make the company more agile, efficient, and responsive to the changing industry. This means investing in digital technologies, building a diverse and inclusive workforce, and collaborating with other brands and organizations. 

Marketing Efforts: Over the past years, Puma has made it a point to empower people to take control of their lives, their passions, and their dreams. They have launched various campaigns, each with a distinct message and theme. They work with various ambassadors and endorsers who resonate with their target audience and embody the brand’s core values. They also leverage partnerships with music artists, fashion designers, and lifestyle icons to reach new audiences and expand their product offerings. As they move forward, Puma intends to create more campaigns that connect with their customers on a deeper and personal level.

Sustainability Commitments: Puma is committed to making a positive impact on the environment and society. They are aware of the pressing issues that the world is facing, including climate change, pollution, and social inequality. That’s why they have set ambitious goals to reduce their carbon footprint, eliminate hazardous chemicals, use more sustainable materials, and promote fair labor practices. They have also launched the Forever Better Initiative, which is a platform to raise awareness and take action on the social and environmental issues that matter to them and their customers.

Technological Advancements: Puma has always been at the forefront when it comes to integrating technology into their products. They have developed new materials and manufacturing processes that enhance the performance, comfort, and style of their shoes and apparel. They have also introduced innovative products such as self-lacing shoes, augmented reality applications, and fitness trackers. Moving forward, Puma is investing in digital innovation to improve the customer experience, expand their e-commerce capabilities, and provide personalized services. They believe that technology will play a significant role in shaping the future of retail, and they plan to stay ahead of the curve.

Final Words

Puma’s journey has been remarkable, and the brand has become an enduring symbol of strength, innovation, and style. From its early days producing soccer shoes to its present-day collaborations with fashion and music icons, Puma has remained true to its core values of quality, innovation, and sustainability. Today, Puma stands as a global leader in the sports and fashion industry and continues to inspire and delight its millions of fans worldwide.

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