Did these boot updates come too soon for Puma? JayC (@nosajpersonlah) shares his thoughts on the Big Cat’s new boots.
Puma have continued their 6-month refresh cycle, releasing a newly designed Puma Future 19.1 as well as a costume change in the Puma ONE 19.1. The boots have been launched as part of their ‘Power Up’ Pack, taking references from gaming and arcade culture with the flashes of red and blue on the boots.
Personally, I think someone in Puma’s a fan of Dragon Ball Super, noting that the recent Super Saiyan transformations have given the Saiyan both red and blue hair. That the Future 19.1 has an orange skin with flashes of blue, like Goku in his orange gi, only adds to my theory.
But enough about Saiyans and Dragonballs, we’ve got new boots to talk about!
Puma ONE 19.1: More of a Costume Change than a New Form
Like Goku with Blue hair (last reference, I promise!), previously called Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan, before getting christened Super Saiyan Blue, The Puma ONE also went through its fair share of confusing names. Thankfully they’ve settled on Puma ONE 19.1 and perhaps the spotlight can focus on its performance instead of its name.
The new name seems to be the only major change to the One 19.1. The FUSEFIT technology, evoKNIT sock and soleplate remain, as does the super-soft kangaroo leather upper. Instead of embossed dots though, the ONE 19.1 takes a leaf out of its 18.1 predecessor to use a 3D wave pattern to provide that slight padded, dampened sensation that leather connoisseurs like me live for.
3 generations down and the Puma ONE series still seems to be stuck in an identity crisis. Thanks to Nike, who first started differentiating boots by position and then by characteristics, we’re used to thinking of boots as amplifying certain play styles, like control, speed or power.
However, a boot like the ONE 19.1 seems to lack a unique feature. Who’s it made for? The leather connoisseur? The lethal goal poacher? The speedy winger? The deep lying midfielder?
The boot isn’t necessarily bad and actually performs well. The leather is nice and well-padded, but perhaps a little too padded for a speedster used to traditional speed boots. At 200g (in a US9), it’s too light weight for your old school defender to feel secure in it. It speaks volumes that a leather lover like Vincent Kompany, who tweeted at adidas for discontinuing the leather Ace 17.1, has opted for the Future 19.1 instead.
As much as it pains me to say it, what the ONE needs is to define its role in the Puma stable. Turn this ambiguity into a strength by giving it a story or a classic moment (like that Zidane volley in the Predator) for consumers to link it to.
Perhaps Romelu can power up into Super Saiyan Lukaku and score a hattrick in the Champions League Final with the One 19.1? As a United fan, I can only hope so.
Future 19.1 – Laces the Only Way Forward
What the ONE lacks in identity, the Puma Future 19.1 has in spades. Or at least it should.
First released in early 2018, after a fellow German brand touted the merits of going laceless, the Future 18.1 instead doubled down with its lace-it-however-you-want Netfit system. It was a great selling point, even if slightly gimmicky, as consumers soon realised that the best system, was the traditional one.
Still, the ability to customise the fit of the boot did make the boot legitimately one of the most foot-friendly boots around, fitting both wide and slim footed individuals comfortably.
Personally though, I thought Puma missed a step in not getting their stars to create their own bespoke lacing patterns, as a way of signalling the boots versatility among players of all positions. This soon escalated into a unique situation of their own when, Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus began to wear his Future 2.1 laceless. Soon, other Puma endorsed athletes such as Usain Bolt and Dejan ‘World’s Best Defender’ Lovren began to follow suit.
With the Future 2.1, one complaint of ours was that the upper felt a little too plasticky, a result of the TPU used to reinforce the front section of the knit material. Puma have looked to eliminate this by refining their Netfit system and create a seamless one piece upper to bring the foot closer to the ball.
The 3D Havoc Frame equips the toebox with some aggressive looking patterns which hopefully adds some grip for when controlling the ball. I’m also willing to bet as well that they act as some form of control element to help cushion the ball.
The modified Netfit system has continued to eliminate the lace loops in the toebox, instead focusing on the sides of the boot to allow for customization of the width.
Powering Up into 2019
As I touched on in my Top 5 Football Boot and Jersey Wishes for 2019 article, one of my top wishes was that companies like Puma stop with the short refresh cycles as this meant small incremental changes with each model. In that respect, I do hope that the name change to 19.1 suggests a reversion to a yearly update at least.
With that in mind, I do suspect that Puma’s plans for 2019 will be done mostly off the pitch. Puma has been unusually aggressive on its marketing front, with established players such as Vincent Kompany and Eric Baily all signing or rumoured to be signing for Puma. This adds some much needed balance to their currently offense skewed stable of athletes.
This balance is important for 2 reasons. Firstly, having elite defenders will give Puma better insight during the designing process for their new boots – something they desperately need to catch up with the likes of Nike and adidas.
Second, and more importantly, it is about visibility on pitch. Young defenders do notice the boots that their idols wear. That feeds into the narrative that both the Puma One 19.1 and Puma Future 19.1 are boots that truly suit all positions.
2019 could be a big one for the Big Cat and we can’t wait to see what’s up their sleeves.