When PUMA teased an end-of-year release with Barbie back in May, Instagram squealed with delight. But in a year packed with special editions – not least for PUMA’s own 50th anniversary of its Suede silhouette – it seemed like little more than another cutesy sneaker novelty.
But by the time of the release’s arrival, it was clear that PUMA had grander ambitions for the pop icon. Besides the obligatory shoe styles, a five-piece, adult-facing Barbie fitness collection offered a fresh, distinctive voice within the saturated athleisure landscape.
PUMA’s collection taps into the inner girl by leaning into deeper Barbie archetypes like dressing up and accessorising rather than an obvious pop styling.
But the coup de grâce came in the form of a pair of Barbie Signature collectible dolls outfitted in PUMA gear. An additional, limited edition sneaker + doll bundle sold out instantly.
2018 was a year when female sneakerheads began to catch up with males – and this was yet another point that PUMA was able to address with its shrewd campaign management.