Celebrating the new collaboration for non-conformists in conversation with Yassine Saidi and Andrew Rogers
Sports giant PUMA have teamed up with Alexander McQueen before, but their latest footwear collaboration with the house is with younger sibling, McQ. The two teams have created 16 styles for men and women, each in two or three colourways. The project has been a meeting of creative minds, combining the fashion design experience of McQ and the long history of athletic innovation of PUMA. We caught up with Yassine Saidi, PUMA’s Global Senior Head of Lifestyle Footwear and SELECT, and McQ’s Brand Director, Andrew Rogers, to get the lowdown.
How different was it working with McQ than Alexander McQueen?
Andrew Rogers: PUMA had been working with our mainline brand for several years, a collaboration that had been very successful for both, but it felt like the right time to move it over to McQ, because we’re heavily influenced by streetwear and global subcultures. We’re rooted in the rebellious London spirit of Lee McQueen who founded the brand in 2005. A trainer collaboration felt very organic. We had been designing trainers in-house as part of McQ’s seasonal collections since the brand was founded, but we’d never had the chance to share in the expertise of such an established sportswear brand. And I had always thought of PUMA as the founder of the high fashion trainer with their Jil Sander collaboration.
Yassine Saidi: Having worked extensively with McQueen, collaborating with McQ felt authentic. McQ feels like the perfect collaborator to explore the point at which performance and style collide. This continues to be a premium fashion collaboration, and the DNA of Alexander McQueen is still present in McQ.
I hear you were inspired by human anatomy on this project. Can you talk us through how that affected the design?
Yassine Saidi: The AW14 collection references human anatomy, a nod to the Alexander McQueen archive as well as physicality and performance. Ribcages and tendons were fabricated and combined with new performance silhouettes to create cage-like styling.
I feel like the ladies’ Leap trainer is a really great crossover of the brands. What do you think exemplifies the perfect fusion of PUMA and McQ in this collection?
Andrew Rogers: I love the Leap, but my personal favourites are the Run Lo and the Run Mid. These styles feature the marble print from McQ’s ready to wear collections on the soles, and also a moulded rubber framework reminiscent of ribcages. The colour palette includes a lot of flesh tones, particularly in womenswear, evoking prosthetics. Human anatomy has always been a key reference point for the house of McQueen, and here it is realised in PUMA’s high tech materials and on iconic sporting shapes - a great example of the two worlds colliding.
“I imagine someone youthful, experimental and non-conformist being attracted to this collaboration. It’s someone who doesn’t try too hard. They have a nonchalant beauty.” – Andrew Rogers
With high-end trainers from Pierre Hardy, Lanvin, Raf Simons and other collaborations between big sporting brands and fashion houses, where do you think sports footwear is right now? How does it avoid becoming a trend that will pass?
Yassine Saidi: The collision of performance and fashion continues to grow. It is becoming more and more visible from the catwalk to the street. It is a cross over trend and more people are picking up on it. As long as brands continue to be innovative and creative with their designs, I’m sure this trend is here to stay.
Andrew Rogers: We’re in an exciting place, with sports footwear being adapted by brands, and brands bringing sportswear elements into their ready-to-wear collections. I think the current popularity of sportswear transcends trends and has been building for several decades. High fashion’s interest in sports collaborations has further consolidated that. Sportswear is a part of our culture. It embodies a certain attitude, and that attitude is not going anywhere.
Where do you sit in the market and who do you imagine wearing these?
Yassine Saidi: The PUMA x McQ collaboration is a premium collaboration, authentic to the DNA of both brands. It’s high-end streetwear. The buyer varies from sneakerheads to the fashion consumer.
Andrew Rogers: I imagine someone youthful, experimental and non-conformist being attracted to this collaboration. McQ appeals to creatives across all disciplines. It’s someone who doesn’t try too hard. They have a nonchalant beauty.