How PUMA Is Bringing Its Past to the Present With the RS Series

Described in an interview with Heiko Desens, Sportstyle Footwear Creative Director.

Footwear 
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At the nexus of nostalgia and innovation, PUMA delves into its archives and returns with the rebooted RS series. The RS acronym stands for “RUNNING SYSTEM,” and the newest iterations exude a modern aesthetic with a sustained commitment to technological ingenuity. Though this undertaking to revitalize the runners wouldn’t be possible without the leadership of Heiko Desens, Sportstyle Footwear Creative Director. In an interview with HYPEBEAST, Desens discusses the process and what’s in store while also providing some advice for a generation of future designers.

What inspired PUMA to bring back the Running System with the RS-0? Why this silhouette?

The Running System has a big part to play in PUMA’s performance heritage so we were delighted to take the RS of the past, evolve it, and reinvent it for Spring/Summer 2018.

The original RS (RUNNING SYSTEM) was an innovative, high quality cushioning technology established in the ‘80s that was considered extremely advanced for its time. The RS catered to the demand for high-tech stability runners back in the day, while also providing a fashionable look and high comfort level – both extremely key for today’s consumer. Then of course came the RS Computer Shoe, a sneaker that was light years ahead of its time. The RS Computer Shoe was the first-ever analytical shoe that gave runners the power of computing to aid in performance.

Our inspiration came directly from the whole Running System collection in the PUMA Archive but we challenged ourselves to do something completely new this time. Instead of reissuing an OG silhouette, we wanted to take something from the past and rebuild it for the future, creating something truly “future-retro”.

What was the design team’s starting point for the rebirth of the Running System?

The design team had a clear vision for the RS-0 which was to take the old Running System and literally “reboot” it back to zero. We stripped the silhouette down – taking it back to basics -  and built it up with an updated aesthetic and modern materials.

You will see that the RS-0 has subtle elements from the OG silhouette but the product itself has been updated to meet the needs of the modern consumer, focusing on ultimate comfort with plenty of support for those on the go 24/7. What we really love about the new silhouette is that it has this clean design but you can still really recognize the RS-0’s archive roots.

Based on the “Reboot” concept, the design team wanted to keep this first drop of the RS-0 very clean with subtle details and color pops, almost as though it is a blank canvas to build upon for the exciting projects to follow.

What technological updates can be found in the RS-0?

The RS-0 has been updated with new construction, materials and production techniques. So, we, first of all, created a new last for the RS-0 to cater to the fit and feel of the today’s consumer and for a sleeker toe shape. Furthermore, the midsole features a completely new and lighter PU foam compound which offers extreme rebound for ultimate comfort. Other changes include the bootie sock construction for ultimate comfort versus the OG tongue construction.

What was the importance of reimagining the Archive Green in the silhouettes?

As you know, PUMA’s heritage is rooted in the color green – from branding to packaging to the product itself, so it was an important detail to keep. Like we did with the RS-0 sneaker, we took the green and reworked it to be more futuristic in keeping with the future-retro concept and the “rebooting” of the Running System.

The idea of tracking biometrics has received much attention in the tech space, is there any interest in bringing that back to PUMA with reissuing the RS Computer Shoe?

From a Sportstyle perspective, all I will say is that we may be bringing back something a little special very soon. Watch this space!

When creating products, how do you innovate while staying true to PUMA’s DNA?

Well, the great thing is that PUMA’s heritage is rooted in innovation and this is what we are constantly striving for in all of our Sportstyle product offerings. As our team is focusing on lifestyle products, the innovation isn’t there for running a 10k, but instead focuses on innovating and being a market leader in durability, comfort and style.

What can people look forward to in the coming months for the RS?

Starting Spring/Summer 2018, PUMA will kick off its RS stories of reinvention with the RS-0 model followed by modern retro iterations of the RS-100 and RS-350.

As the RS-0 celebrates the reinvention of a unique moment or movement in culture, PUMA is exploring three key pillars: gaming, music and photography. Under each cultural pillar, PUMA has partnered with influential and creative brands that push culture forward through innovation in design, style, technology, and more, each telling their own similar story of reinvention. SEGARoland and  Polaroid are incredible brands to be working with on this future-retro project, as they are all extremely relevant and successful in this neo-nostalgia trend that emerged in the last few years.

If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring creative designers what would it be?

This is a great question! I would say, like the RS-0, always work on self-improvement and development of yourself as a designer, without ever losing the things that make you, you —- this is what makes your work truly unique. And never be afraid to try new things.

With an early release in select sneaker retailers on April 14 and a wide release on April 19, the silhouettes can be purchased from $85 – $130 USD at PUMA’s website and stockists.

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