Puma 2023 runway show merges ancient Chinese inventions with esports

Key takeaways:

  • Puma rang up the curation of its 2023 collection, fusing elements from China’s historic “Four Great Inventions” (the compass, gunpowder, papermaking and printing) to its sports credentials.
  • By tapping into the rising cultural confidence of the young Chinese demographics, Puma unveiled “New Chinese Style” sportswear flavoured with Western aesthetics.
  • In order to further appeal to the Gen Z demographics at home, professional esports players were invited onboard to kick off the runway show.

At the beginning of the new year, German sportswear brand Puma rang up the curation of its 2023 collection, fusing elements from China’s historic “Four Great Inventions” (the compass, gunpowder, papermaking and printing) to its sports credentials. To celebrate the launch of the collection, a runway show was dedicatedly presented at a historical landmark on Hengshan Road, Shanghai.

The district is in the former French Concession, with the architecture there composed of a unique charm infused with Western modernism and subtle Chinese romance, of which Puma echoes the building’s distinctive styles throughout its designs.

The show “To Be Proud” was held at night and the brand projected its signature logo, a leaping puma, onto the traditional Chinese buildings with a flash of red, to pay tribute to the nation’s cultural treasure trove as well as showcase the younger generations’ appreciative sentiments towards China’s profound culture tracing back thousands of years ago.

Puma’s 2023 collection drew inspiration from the four elements, including compass, gunpowder, papermaking and printing.

Puma taps into Chinese features to reignite its sports spirit

The Four Great Inventions are remarkable creations from ancient China, signalling the country’s historical significance and advanced scientific milestones. Puma’s 2023 collection drew inspiration from the four elements with the compass, gunpowder, papermaking and printing included to flavour its modern sports spirit with the unique beauty of ancient China. By partnering with local street dancers and influencers to make a joint performance at the show, Puma proudly debuted its apparel through the lens of the young Chinese people.

Authentic Chinese characteristics were observed throughout the whole fashion show, with knots, embroidery, calligraphy and mandarin collars being imprinted onto hoodies, jackets and sneaker designs. The latest collection is more of the “New Chinese Style”, which is a sub-category of the Guochao trend whilst appearing to be bolder when it comes to adopting Western aesthetics. This trendy fashion statement is on the rise as it allows the elegance of those ancient garments to be more relevant to today’s life.

By tapping into the core features of Chinese culture, Puma has delivered a set of refreshing yet impressive clothing designs as not many Western sports brands have combined the Four Great Inventions into their collections. Moreover, as a foreign label, Puma has smartly integrated Chinese elements into its products without disappointing consumers or even misapplying features, demonstrating its great understanding and commitment to the local market.

Esports players onboard to draw in Gen Z demographics

Puma is in partnership with The King Pro League (KPL), which is the best team featured in the premier Kings of Glory tournament in China, and all team wear worn by players during competition seasons are provided by the German sports label. In a bid to appeal to the shrewd Gen Z demographics, Puma invited two Chinese professional esports players in the league, Yi Nuo and Jiu Wei to kick off the runway show, as well as the Chinese host of the KPL International Championship Cup, Ling Er to exhibit the “New Chinese Style” outfits.

Puma is also in partnership with The King Pro League (KPL) – the best team featured in the premier Kings of Glory tournament in China.

Yi Nuo and Jiu Wei possess a massive fanbase amongst Chinese youngsters, which generated significant online traffic to the Puma runway show. On China’s biggest microblogging site Weibo, a large number of comments and reposts related to the runway show were initiated by those two esports players’ followers expressing their endorsements. With esports players onboard, Puma’s 2023 collection has ignited a nostalgic feeling with a twist of cyberpunk.

It’s also worth noting that the papermaking-themed apparel is the only collection open to the public, whilst the remaining three designs are waiting to be unveiled in the following seasons. This approach indicates there are more possibilities for Puma on the horizon and the brand’s continuing journey in exploring Chinese culture. Consumers can purchase the Puma papermaking capsules from its storefronts and flagship stores on Tmall, one of China’s biggest e-commerce platforms.

By pulling off the Four Great Inventions within an exciting collection, Puma has demonstrated its ambition in deepening its push into the Chinese landscape and market strategy localisation. The range of apparel brings a touch of Western playfulness and Oriental aesthetics into the world of sportswear while tapping into the rising sense of cultural pride among Gen Z demographics.

With esports players onboard, a layer of youth modernism has been added to the brand’s expression of individuality, which is highly valued by China’s Gen Z and Millennials. All factors listed above showcase Puma’s endeavour in gaining a larger share of the lucrative Chinese sportswear markets and in winning the favourability of the younger generation.