As Saucony Originals celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2023, the footwear brand set up a new iteration of its House of Originals showroom for Paris Fashion Week. Located in the Marais and, its doodle drawing-filled space (which was open from June 20 to June 24) featured immersive displays of the SS24 collection, upcoming collaborations and old-school televisions showing models against different landscapes.
Saucony frequently taps its innovative, technical past to inform its style-focused projects, which include collaborations like a unisex twist on its iconic Grid Shadow 2 silhouette with Colour Plus Companie. While this model and the Jazz NXT have a strong streetwear appeal, Saucony’s space also shares performance models, like the ProGrid Triumph 4 and ProGrid, in seasonal collections.
Offering a deeper look into its fused approach to heritage, design and innovation, Saucony also launched a new brand book in collaboration with Sneaker Freaker at Shinzo, a Paris-based boutique. As Saucony searches through its archives for well-loved styles to re-imagine, Hypebeast chatted with brand president Robert Griffiths for an inside perspective on the “Original Running Brand.”
HYPEBEAST: 125 years of Saucony is an impressive feat. how does the brand’s history inform its Paris Fashion Week programming?
Robert Griffiths: When you look back, Saucony has always been at the forefront of innovation. This week is about [continuing] that narrative whether it be our performance running products or the way we interpret our Originals collection through a lifestyle lens. There’s a slight shift to what we’re calling the “retro tech” movement in sneakers, which is, again, a nod to what was innovative in the early 2000’s. This is now very relevant from a fashion perspective.
Are there any new trends or audiences that Saucony is trying to reach with the collections revealed this week? I think there are definitely two facets to work we’re doing with Colour Plus Companie. We can talk to those heritage fans that we’ve had for a long period of time, but it’s very engaging for a younger consumer as well. In the past, we probably have some collabs that were somewhat gender-driven. The stuff we’ve done with Colour Plus is genderless, and I think that’s going to be a theme that we continue with moving forward.
How does Saucony select its collaborators? We only work with collaborators that mean something to us and have a very strong point of view that we align to. Moving forward we’re going to spend more time scrutinizing that. And we’ll have longer term collaborations, which will be like partnerships that go season after season. Other times, there’ll be moments where we feel that there’s somebody that’s doing something that’s very relevant and we’ll partner with them. The key thing for us is to make sure that there’s a relevance between both parties.
We can look at things from various ways. There’ll be times when we may choose a collaborator that takes us out of our comfort zone. Nicole McLaughlin for instance, will do things that are avant garde, but they’re extremely perceptive and interesting. If we feel that certain collaborators are going add something or speak to our consumers in a way that’s comfortable and engaging, we’ll allow them to do that.
“You can get lost in hype. It’s like watching the scoreboard instead of watching the game.”
Is “hype” ever factored into Saucony’s upcoming projects?
I think you can get lost in hype. It’s like watching the scoreboard instead of watching the game. We would never chase hype, but we’ll make sure that we do things that are right for the brand and relevant.
When planning new projects, how do you establish balance between the brand’s past and future?
When we look at the Endorphin or Kinvara series in our technical running area, that’s using performance as technology to help athletes. It’s also informing us from a fashion and trend perspective — sometimes, it’s color or the way we use technologies, so we’re able to draw from that and our innovation experience to inform everything we do. It’s about staying true to what we’ve always done and using those learnings in a relevant way.
Do you see any potential intersections between running and other cultures in the future? If you get the time, go to a store called Distance in Paris. They’re a very cool speciality running store. They’re crossing boundaries; this top end performance product is actually extremely relevant to fashion trends. We really see barriers breaking down, in terms of running as an elite sport at certain levels. Those barriers are going and we’re at the forefront of that. We’ve got experts and scientists that work on product on a daily basis in Boston. We want to expand the reach of the brand and give everybody access in the areas that are relevant to them.
Is there anything you wanted to add?
I suppose I’m coming from a background of being international. I believe I’m the first European [brand president]. For me, that’s a great honor but it’s also a great opportunity for us to start thinking globally as well. We’ve done that in the past, but this provides me with that opportunity to really take the brand globally and to think globally in everything we do.
Discover the House of Originals at Paris Fashion Week and upcoming collaborations in the gallery above. Saucony Originals has also recently unveiled sneakers made from mushrooms for its Spring/Summer 2023 collection.