It has been awhile since I have done an interview with a Puma collector. I decided to get back to it with my Puma friend, Justin Oliver. As with most of us Puma people we connected via Instagram in the sharing of our beloved Pumas. Puma people are special. It always seems like the whole world is so focused on Nike and we’re just here with our suedes and wondering why others don’t get why Puma is the greatest. These interviews shed some light on that.
Justin’s love of shoes started in elementary school where he would pass the time drawing and designing his how shoes. Colors, logos, designs… that was his thing. Also, he was intent on having the same shoes as his favorite athlete. He said, “…that meant an array of brands. The sneaker world to a kid in the 90s was a lot different than the sneaker world we know today.” Fresh out of high school Justin was working in the mall and had some good friends who were wearing Pumas. Justin went out and, “bought a brand new pair of red/white Puma Easy Riders. After that, I bought a few pairs of Puma Roma’s and my love/addiction to Puma was born.” Now, collecting has become somewhat of an addiction (that many of us can identify with). But beyond that, Justin loves Puma and chooses the company because, “…it’s a combination on style and comfort. A simple pair of suede classics can be paired with any outfit. Or you can find a style for whatever outfit or activity you have going on at that time. Also, I believe the quality of most the styles have stayed consistent opposed to other brands that have started using cheaper materials.”
Justin went on to say, “For many years I had a collection of Pumas that consisted of about 20 or so pairs. I think with the rise of popular social media sites, such as Instagram, came an outlet to share my passion with friends – not just in the States but all over the world. It really fueled this addiction and in the last 3-4 years my collection exploded into a packed closet (with overflow in several other rooms and hand-me-downs going to my father since there wasn’t always room to keep everything).”
Right now Justin’s collection is right around 100 pairs (give or take a few he said). He has started to sell or give away a few pairs. He replied, “I just realized I don’t have time to wear them all and partially to use that money to buy new/more desired pairs. I feel comfortable with that number. I believe if space and finances weren’t an issue it would be a lot worse.” Even with this amount of shoes there are still a few that Justin would love to add to his collection. His first ‘Holy Grail’ is the 2006 YO! MTV Raps Puma Clyde ‘Forever Fresh’. Justin grew up watching YO! MTV Raps and loved the hip hop music of the day (even as a young middle class white kid who sometimes got laughed at for trying to emulate the style). That shoe embodies everything he loved about that time period.
His second ‘Holy Grail’ is the Goonies Puma Disc. As Justin said, “The materials and details of the pair and the packaging are amazing and its inspiration is from the best movie ever made!” Although both of these pairs can be located on Ebay now and then he does have a limit of how much he would spend on any one pair of shoes.
Any shoe collector faces the scrutiny of friends and family. There are the questions like, “Are you ever going to wear all of those?” or “Do you really need another pair of suedes?” And the answer is most often, “Yes. Yes we do.” Justin’s family may think he is crazy but they are still supportive and he receives Pumas for gifts. His wife is very kind and allows him one pair a month (within budget).
I asked Justin how he felt Puma was doing as a brand. They do lag behind some of the other brands here in the United States and have been taking steps to revitalize their image and shoes. Justin comments are, “I feel Puma is doing a good job moving forward as a brand. Lots of recent collaborations with some important sneaker names have definitely made the brand more noticeable. I personally love the collabs with UNDFTED, Anwar Carrots, and ALIFE in the United States. These names are huge when comes to street fashion. Also, I believe Puma has a great core of athletes as brand ambassadors such as Rickie Fowler and Usain Bolt. They also have signed several celebrities who will move the brand into the spot light. I like the “attitude” and “edge” the brand carries at this time.” The brand has inspired Justin to buy more than just shoes – he’s currently in love with the cuffed sweatpants for men and owns shirts, hoodies, and hats.
Finally, I wanted to know what Justin’s top 5 shoes are – hard choices for any collector. The top 5 in his rotation are his BioWebs, ALIFE “Silver Bullet”, 698s, ALIFE x Stuck Up 698s, Tropicalli Discs, and a beater pair of blue/yellow Cabana Racers. Those are some really nice daily-rotation choices. Now for his actual top 5 that he owns:
- Puma x ALIFE. During Justin’s first trip to NYC he stopped by ALIFE during the release of the collaboration. Although he was early, the owners let him in so he could watch the set-up. He was able to pick up a pair of the sudes but they also treated him to a free t-shirt, bag, and a wrist-band to the RedMan concert.
- 2001 Red/White Easy Riders. This was his first pair and although he had passed them on to his father, his father has kept them and made sure they are preserved (that’s a great Dad!).
- 1995 Puma Suede Tan/Natural. This is his ‘vintage’ pair and is deadstock. That’s always special to a collector.
- Puma x The List ’93 Original Suede Green Flash. Although released just a couple of years ago it is much like the YO MTV Series with the bright colors and style of the 90s.
- Puma x Alexander McQueen Rocket – Lipstick Red. This is special because of the highest quality materials and top-notch leather. Justin loves it for the details and the flip-down tongue that is a lot like the old-school soccer/baseball cleats.
I’d like to thank Justin for taking time to answer my questions. Be sure to flip through the photo gallery and to visit him on Instagram! Do you know a Puma collector that should be interviewed? If so, let me know!