It started with German brothers Adi and Rudi Dassler who could be seen as the Liam and Noel Gallagher of the sneaker game – two highly talented siblings who couldn’t stand each other. Back in 1948, after a family feud to end all family feuds, they split up their footwear company (the snappily named ‘Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik’) and formed two rival sportswear brands – adidas and Puma.
The Puma Suede was released in 1968 and, thanks to its clean shape, thick rubber sole and rough suede (a contrast to the canvas or leather upper of most sneakers at the time), was a relatively popular sneaker in its own right. From the NBA to hip hop to skating and beyond, the Suede has been at the center of every Cultural Revolution, its silhouette unchanged since day one.
When it released back in 1968, the PUMA Suede trainer was well ahead of the game. Its thick, rubber sole and rounded silhouette crafted in tough suede stepped away from the typical status quo of canvas and leather-based shoes. It didn't take long until the PUMA Suede was the choice of trend-setters on the street and in the sporting arena.
The year of its birth, the Suede bore witness to one of the most recognizable moments in Olympic history. Picture this: 200m gold and bronze medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos were on the podium after receiving their medals when the American national anthem played and they made their now infamous human rights salute (often referred to now as “The 1968 Olympics Black Power salute”). The Suedes were alongside the two shoeless men, carving its own special place in this historic moment.
The Suede, or even Clyde as it’s known to most sneakerheads of today, was made famous by basketball legend Walter “Clyde” Frazier of the New York Knicks. During the 1970’s, the icon himself asked Puma to make him a wider version of their basketball shoe and thus the ‘Clyde’ was born. With the introduction of the ‘Clyde’, a variation of the Suede, Walter “Clyde” Frazier became the first basketball player to ever have a shoe named after him – rumour has it, he even had a pair for his cat!
Flash Forward to the 80’s – the Suede was embraced by the hip-hop scene. This decade saw breakdancing and hip-hop enter the mainstream and PUMA Suedes came along for the ride. This connection to B-Boy culture still remains a timeless classic.
The Suede has continued its development to become one of the most-loved shoes in history. During the '90s and '00s and even now, it has become a staple choice for creative types everywhere. From punk rockers to street artists, it seems that Suedes have struck a chord in individuals all around the world.
The following Puma Suede/Clyde Colourways are available at Shelflife:
Trapstar x Puma Suede Barbados Cherry
Trapstar x Puma Suede Black
Puma Clyde - Barbados Cherry/Whisper White
Puma Clyde - Bright Gold