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Earlier this year, Sneaker Freaker made the unexpected announcement that its 2007 collaboration with PUMA featuring the Blaze of Glory silhouette would be re-releasing later this year. When the two-piece “Shark Attack” pack first released, it served as the unveiling for the PUMA Blaze of Glory silhouette. Consisting of two colorways — the “Great White” and the “Black Beast” — the pack showcased the best of the new silhouette. Now the two shoes are back, along with two LTWT versions, and they look as good as ever with only the slightest of changes made. The 2013 versions feature new color-coded and improved sockliners. On the outside, a wrinkled nubuck has been added as nod to the sharkskin used in the original version. We got an advance look at the shoe and we’ve got to say that it looks every bit as good as the original. In addition, we had the chance to talk briefly with Simon “Woody” Wood of Sneaker Freaker about the collaboration.
Could you describe Sneaker Freaker’s approach to collaborations in general?
I’d like to think all our shoes are original. There’s usually some element of humor on the story side of things as well. It’s really for others to judge, but I’d hope people recognize that we put a lot of thought into everything we do and that we’re prepared to take chances. If it was my choice, we’d focus on launching new shoes, such as the ‘Summer Bay’ Flash we just did with Le Coq Sportif. I like turning people on to new things. But it’s not like we’re actually designing shoes, we’re coloring them and choosing interesting materials such as kangaroo leather, which we used on our ‘Skippy’ New Balances. I really don’t understand colabs that are all-black or all-grey. There’s no progression or risk involved. What’s the point? I’m also amused by this idea of ‘wearable’ shoes. That’s total baloney.
What is it about the Blaze of Glory that you guys like so much?
It’s fresh. The Trinomic sole is a killer foundation and the overall stance is spot on. It’s really a Disc Blaze without the giant contraption on the top of your foot. I don’t think PUMA really knew what to do with the Blaze of Glory back in 2008, they just didn’t think it had much potential. It’s certainly an oddball when you stack it against their retro runners like the RS1 and the Fast Rider. Since the original Great White and Black Beasts came out, they’ve only released a few colors, most recently the Hypebeast colab, so its still got a mysterious edge. Now that PUMA have brought back the XT1 and XT2, I think the Blaze looks more at home on their roster.
For those who don’t already know, could you tell us a little bit about this collaboration and the history behind it?
Yeah, the Blazes were released five years ago, so this is an anniversary edition I suppose. I might add that we started work on the project maybe two years before that, so this story actually starts seven years ago, which seems like ancient history. The original was the Great White version, which was followed by the Black Beast. At some point we tracked down a tannery that manufactured shark leather. We convinced PUMA to make 30 pairs and they were given to friends and family. Those shoes are absolutely bonkers. The leather was super wrinkly, tough as nails and blacker than the ace of spades. Most big brands have agreed to stop using exotic materials on their shoes, so it’s highly likely we’ll never see shark leather used again. I’ve had a few people ask me why we’d release the shoes a second time and my answer is that they look sick, so why not? Out of all the shoes we’ve done, this is the one project I still get asked about all the time. Since they are so fondly remembered, I thought it’d be nuts to see them back on the street again. I’d love a fresh pair as much as anyone.
“I’d like to think all our shoes are original. There’s usually some element of humor on the story side of things as well.”
Simon Wood speaks about Sneaker Freaker’s approach to collaborations
Wasn’t there more to the Shark story?
The whole design of the first shoe was based around the Great White shark. The gummy pink hit on the side, the river of blood on the Trinomic sole, the white teeth and black eyeball. I designed the diamond logo on the tongue to represent a shark attack, but I think the graphical meaning was lost on most people. I was talking about the logo the other day in the office and even the people that work here had no idea what the logo meant either, so that was funny. But I definitely prefer to err on the side of subtlety. Loading a design with too many literal flourishes gets corny fast.
Are there any major differences between the re-release and the original release?
There are a few differences. It was tempting to do a 1:1 repro, but I just couldn’t help but switch out a few things, simply because we could, but also because we didn’t want any confusion between the old shoes and the new ones. The socklining is now color-coded to match the shoe. We also added a performance inner sole for comfort. As a nod to the sharkskin leather on the OG Friends and Family edition, a lightly wrinkled nubuck was sourced that is subtle but effective. The shark tooth jewels are still there as well. We even left the fluoro pink pop intact on the OG black shoe that was an error made during the sampling process. Some mistakes are unexpectedly perfect. We’ve also designed a special box that should be the icing on the cake.
What’s next for Sneaker Freaker in terms of collaborations – anything lined up?
There’s always something coming down the pipe, but you know how it is, we have to be secret squirrels about these things. Surprises are nice. And I can guarantee that when our next shoe drops, you will all be very surprised.