Skepta: "I’ve Done It Before, and I’m Ready To Do It at PUMA"

In a world exclusive, Hypebeast speaks to the multifaceted grime OG to discuss his new PUMA deal, culture, and London representation.

Footwear 
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Grime MC, rapper, record producer, fashion collaborator, footwear aficionado, painter – is there anything Skepta can’t turn his hand to? It seems that the multifaceted creative isn’t slowing down any time soon, as he – in tandem with Big Smoke Corporation – has just signed a deal with PUMA.

“This is the first brand partnership deal to come through my new company Big Smoke Corporation and it’s one that I am very proud of. Together with PUMA we can put our spin and create a new way of thinking about fashion and style.” Skepta says. “It’s an honor to work with such a globally recognized brand that is both embedded and has a real understanding of youth and popular culture, but that also understands the importance of partnerships and collaborations such as this. We look forward to developing and creating new opportunities for the next generation together.”

For the partnership, which sees him tap into culture, music, art, and style as PUMA’s Global Ambassador (a role in which he overlooks product design and campaigns), Skepta will play a multifaceted part in putting PUMA into the spotlight of London’s underground culture.

To find out more about the partnership, Hypebeast sat down with Skepta in South London to discuss all things PUMA and how he got himself to this point in his creative career.

Hypebeast: In your formative years, how important were sneakers and how has this influenced you later in life?

Skepta: Sneakers are as important as your wristwatch. They’re collectible. It’s about collecting the best footwear, as you would wristwatches.

For my music videos, [sneakers] were a sense of identity.

And does the same go for fashion?

We [Skepta and his peers] played a big part in making sportswear fashionable, especially in 2014 and 2015. Now, you’re seeing a lot of designer brands putting time into sneakers. They’re putting a lot of time and money into creps.

I’m just doing my part.

When you say you’re doing your part, do you mean that life has prepared you for your new role at PUMA?

I want to do more than just be a brand ambassador. I want to do more than just make shoes. Because of who I am, with my platform, I can do more. PUMA came to us with a proposal that allowed us to do that, it felt like the right thing to do right now.

“It’s the child in me having fun in the toy room.”

Do you think it is down to people like yourself to make these creative jumps, in turn, opening doors for others?

Yeah. For me, it’s because I feel like I can, so I should. But, it’s not for everybody. I definitely feel that if you should or could be doing more, then you should step up to the mark.

Does being multifaceted excite you, or challenge you?

It’s the child in me having fun in the toy room. Rapping and becoming a celebrity has helped that in a sense; I’ve got enough time to do and create what I want and however I want to in different avenues.

I read that you said, “PUMA is a brand that speaks to youth and pop culture.” Why is that important to you?

Throughout my career, I’ve always been someone who’s tried to help people. PUMA’s allowed me to build in Nigeria, it’s allowed me to bring my own people onto the team to work with me day-in, day-out.

I always get picked out by my friends and team to do things. To be the front man. But it’s the whole team that makes me who I am. So it’s great that PUMA has given me the scope to employ my friends and do it properly and let them do what they enjoy doing.

What does that come down to? 

The collaboration is with Big Smoke… It’s good for me to be able to give opportunities not just to my friends but to people. Every day people contact [Big Smoke] looking for work, and PUMA has given us another avenue to deliver.

Culture, music, art, and style are all areas of interest for you and things Big Smoke support. How will you bring this into your work for PUMA?

I’ve been appointed to look after the tech-side, the street-side, and the future-side of PUMA. They have the classic side of things, with Jay-Z and Dapper Dan, and for women, they have Dua [Lipa]. For me, it’s about bringing the tracksuit mafia energy that we had when we did “Shut Down” and “That’s Not Me,” – just a normal London energy. It’s something I know and breathe every day, so I’m definitely going to make a mark in culture with this collab.

How will you represent London culture?

“When I make music and I hit that mark, I’m like, ‘there it is.’ It’s a sweet spot and it’s the same with me and design.”

PUMA is really heavy in sports. PUMA is heavy in motorsport as well, and in a lot of arenas. But I wanted to bring it to our space, bring PUMA to the underground space, the culture, the music. Black music. Make it something people know and love.

Product-wise, what are you going to do to excite the next generation of sneakerheads?

That’s the challenge, innit!

Honestly, just like with my music… I don’t know how to read music. I don’t know the technical part of it, but I know good music. When I make music and I hit that mark, I’m like, “there it is.” It’s a sweet spot and it’s the same with me and design. I don’t know what it is that I’m going to do. I’m trying to stay in a PUMA tech tracksuit and RS-Xs for a minute to get the feeling of it. It’s all just magic, really.

I’m just going to go and think to myself – what is the story for Autumn/Winter 2023? How we feeling? Then just do it.

I’m looking forward to it and I know it’s going to be hard. I’ve obviously done shoes before, they’ve been pretty grailed in the culture. People know those shoes around the world. I’ve done it before, and I’m ready to do it at PUMA.

This partnership allows us to employ people. We are looking after that whole space. I want people to know that.

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