PUMA webchat

edited February 23 in Gear

Talk to PUMA shoe designers

Have a question about running shoes? Ask your questions to the PUMA shoe development team

Ever wanted to know how a running shoe is designed? Why you might want to choose minimalist shoes, or when you might want to wear a more cushioned shoe?

On Wednesday 20 August between 12 – 1pm, Bob Michalski from the PUMA development team and Steve Keating, a product line manager at PUMA, will be here to answer your questions on anything and everything you want to know about shoe technology, design and performance.

Steven Keating is currently the Head of Design, overseeing the design team responsible for PUMA’s running and training footwear. Steven has been designing performance footwear for more than ten years. His love for sport and design led to his pursuit of a career in the sports equipment industry. Steven’s favourite design is the spike he designed for Usain Bolt for the 2012 Olympics. While wearing this spike Usain won three Gold Medals, broke a World Record, and two Olympic records.

Bob Michalski has worked in footwear since the early nineties. He worked at Reebok, managing custom footwear needs for pro tennis athletes like Michael Chang, Jimmy Connors, Pat Rafter and Arancha Sanchez Vicario, and has since held various roles at K-Swiss and PUMA. Today he is the group head of development for footwear for PUMA in Boston.

Put your questions to Bob and Steve below.

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Comments

  • Who do I talk to about getting a pair of old-school Easy Rider fitted with Puma Disc?

    Also: Puma shoes wear out much, much quicker than all other brands. Discuss.

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    Why do shoe companies yours included insist on changing the shoes pretty much annually, when you have a good shoe... Why can you not just leave it alone, and change the colour why force people into disrupting their training to get used to new shoes, seriously we don't believe you magically make the shoes better each year, 

    it feels like shoe companies don't actually give a toss about runners, just how much they can get by forcing people into new shoes instead of letting them stick with something that works. 

    I know you are out to make money for your company but frankly do shoe companies actually care about the runners? If so why not have a stable range that  everyone knows will stay the same except for the colour for x years? The 'stable' branch of shoes as well as your more cutting edge range that change annually. 

  • TimeaJTimeaJ ✭✭✭

    My questions is not exactly shoe related but hopefully someone might be able to help! I love the PUMA gym graphic tank top on the cover of the September issue of the Runnersworld magazine, however I was unable to find it online to buy one. Could you tell me if this is not available any more or whether it is so new that it will only be available later for purchase? Thanks a lot. 

  • Hi Timmi, I have checked with PUMA, the tank top will be available in August from Wiggle -  www.wiggle.co.uk/puma

  • how on earth can they advise re minamilist or cushioned if they have never seen us run..

  • Would you recommend having different shoes for racing and training & what's the lightest shoe you would recommend for marathon running (@ around 3.30 pace)?

     

  • Hello,

    What are the average timescales involved from the initial discussion / idea to the finished product or is it purely dependent on the type of shoe you are working on?

  • I overpronate which makes buying new trainers trickier. Obviously I'm aware of buying shoes that are right for the terrain and run type, with enough cushioning for milage and weight, but is there a type or style that you could recommend that might help this? 

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Like all normal people I have 1 foot slightly smaller than the other. Why can't I buy a single running shoe, so I can then make a pair that fit? Would also work for normal people who pronate more on one foot than the other, they could get a mix and match set where one offers more support than the other! image

  • Why do I need a separate trainer for running specifically?

    And have you got any awesome design collaborations coming up?!

     

  • Hello,

    Are the processes you adhere to from the initial idea of the shoe through to completion the same (to an extent) or is it always good / advisable to go about things differently with each release?

  • What are the main challenges you face when designing a shoe which is competing with other shoe manufacturers. How do you stay ahead of your competitors?

  • Adidas have a couple of new shoes (Boost and the bonkers looking Springblade) which seem to try to maximise "energy recovery".  Are Puma working on similar lines or is this something you've looked at and decided not to pursue? 

  • I'd really like to know if you design special shoes for athletes like Usain Bolt or do they run in the model of the season? And if you do make exclusive shoes what requirements do you take into consideration?  Thanks, John

  • Do you see "mass customisation" taking off among runners/other sports users, or will it remain mainly a fashion thing? For example, Nike iD seems to be experimenting with the ability to combine different uppers and mid/out-soles in the Free line - going beyond custom stencils and colour combinations, and into different materials/levels of support, etc.

  • How do you think distribution models will change, if at all? There seems to be increasing willingness/appetite among runners to buy online or on the basis of online information, which is in tension with the traditional nature of footwear fitting. At the same time, it seems like some of the most interesting products are quite hard to get hold of (particularly outside the US) - whether because it's not worthwhile for small specialist retailers to stock/order in niche lines, or because the large chains are focussed on higher volumes and fewer SKUs, conservatism or lack of expertise amongst buyers, etc. Do you see any changes on the horizon that will affect this situation?

  • More a set of hypothetical questions, but how would you like to change the usual product development processes, if you had the power to affect the market in that way?

    To what extent do you think the most commercially successful innovations are also those which are technically most beneficial for runners/other sports users' performance? For example, it seems like there are some innovations which are purely artistic concepts or of aesthetic value - while others are incremental changes but which still end up being set up as gimmicks in order to grab attention. I imagine it must be frustrating for both designers and marketers if you come up with something that really works, but which isn't very "sexy".

    Along similar lines, do you think is there enough room for evidence-based footwear innovation - in terms of the development timelines, research budgets, scope for improvement beyond fairly fundamental materials technology, etc.?

  • John 6....I have personally met with Usain Bolt 5 times since the Daegu World Championships! To watch him sprint up close is something special that's hard to describe. He puts an amazing amount pressure on his spikes.  While he does where close to the in-line spike there are some custom features we incorporate into his spikes to give him the best custom fit that the fastest man in the world deserves!

  • MintyFresh wrote (see)

    What are the main challenges you face when designing a shoe which is competing with other shoe manufacturers. How do you stay ahead of your competitors?

    Hi MintyFresh, your question is a very good one, and one that keeps me up at night. Like most things, it starts with a great team. The PUMA running design team is the best in the industry. We have a very diverse group from many different backgrounds, which we feel sets us apart from the competition. We also do a lot of market and trend research. For example, this past spring, our design team travelled to Japan to see the latest trends in consumer goods and fashion. We spent time in Japan shopping, sketching, and watching the movement of the city. We brought this back with us to the office and these findings are now influencing our latest designs for Autumn/Winter 2015. By drawing inspiration from unique experiences like this we can assure that we are creating unique product from our competition. 

  • ivor wrote (see)

    Also: Puma shoes wear out much, much quicker than all other brands. Discuss.

    Hi Ivor. Sorry you seem to have found Puma shoes that have been wearing out quicker than some of the other brands. It would be great if you could provide us some more specifics into what part of the shoe has been wearing out. At Puma running we have some of the highest lab and wear testing standards, so we need to make sure that our product meets your expectations. In addition if you could provide us your expectation for the # of miles you expect your running shoes to last, that would better help us answer this concern.

  • booktrunk wrote (see)

    Why do shoe companies yours included insist on changing the shoes pretty much annually, when you have a good shoe... Why can you not just leave it alone, and change the colour why force people into disrupting their training to get used to new shoes, seriously we don't believe you magically make the shoes better each year, 

    it feels like shoe companies don't actually give a toss about runners, just how much they can get by forcing people into new shoes instead of letting them stick with something that works. 

    I know you are out to make money for your company but frankly do shoe companies actually care about the runners? If so why not have a stable range that  everyone knows will stay the same except for the colour for x years? The 'stable' branch of shoes as well as your more cutting edge range that change annually. 

    Hi booktrunk and thanks for your question. To be brutally honest most if not all the running brands are constantly trying to build the best running shoes for all types of runners. Most technical running shoes are updated with a 12 to 24 month life cycle. At Puma running we use the same midsole for a minimum of 24 months (so depending on the shoe it could be 1 or 2 versions on that midsole). It’s not just about making money, if anything we are constantly trying to learn from what our consumers have to say about running in our shoes and then refining them to make them even better.

    As you probably know not all runners have the same foot type or running style, so when we build shoes we target a segment of the population. We understand that not everyone will be happy with a certain type of shoe, so as we update each style we work on increasing the # of runners who love running in the shoe, full well knowing that we will lose a few runners. Our aim is to gain more runners than lose runners.

  • ivor wrote (see)

    Who do I talk to about getting a pair of old-school Easy Rider fitted with Puma Disc?

    Also: Puma shoes wear out much, much quicker than all other brands. Discuss.

    I don't if you'll ever see Easy Rider with Disc but Puma continues to look at Disc as an important technology for the brand's future.

  • booktrunk wrote (see)

    Why do shoe companies yours included insist on changing the shoes pretty much annually, when you have a good shoe... Why can you not just leave it alone, and change the colour why force people into disrupting their training to get used to new shoes, seriously we don't believe you magically make the shoes better each year, 

    it feels like shoe companies don't actually give a toss about runners, just how much they can get by forcing people into new shoes instead of letting them stick with something that works. 

    I know you are out to make money for your company but frankly do shoe companies actually care about the runners? If so why not have a stable range that  everyone knows will stay the same except for the colour for x years? The 'stable' branch of shoes as well as your more cutting edge range that change annually. 

     

    Todd Malloy wrote (see)

    Hello,

    Are the processes you adhere to from the initial idea of the shoe through to completion the same (to an extent) or is it always good / advisable to go about things differently with each release?

    Hi Todd,

    Thanks for your interesting question. For the most part we stick to the same process for each shoe so we can be most efficient and the entire team can execute their job within the system and deadlines we have in place. That provides a certain structure within which we conceptualize, design, develop and bring to market each shoe.

    However within each function there is a certain amount of flexibility and creativity. Some projects require more time from an engineering and testing perspective and so we start those projects earlier or the development time we spend on them is much longer. Other projects might have a higher commercial relevance in which case there might be more emphasis on the most efficient construction or cost/benefit due diligence. And then there are the styles that we have a global marketing campaign behind, which means it’s all hands on deck.

  • Isla 3 wrote (see)

    Would you recommend having different shoes for racing and training & what's the lightest shoe you would recommend for marathon running (@ around 3.30 pace)?

     

    Hi Isla 3, good question! Yes, we recommend having different shoes for your race days and your everyday training runs.

    Just as you mix up your training to get faster, you would also mix up your shoes for your race days to get faster.

    The reason being is that you would want a more cushioned and durable everyday training shoe to log your daily miles in. This shoe must be cushioned enough for shock absorption and durable enough to go the distance; as you will run most of your longer miles in this shoe.

    For a race you want a shoe that is as light as possible on your feet, but still gives you the minimum protection you need. A racing shoe typically has a less beefy midsole and a lower heel-to-toe drop; this makes it lighter and encourage you to run more on your mid/forefoot to get faster. When you have been logging your everyday miles in a cushioned trainer you will feel fast just by putting on your race-specific shoes on race day!

    The lightest racing shoe I would recommend for a marathon, considering that you are able to run a @3:30 pace for a marathon, would be the Faas 300 v3. This is the lightest performance racing shoe that is also worn by our elite marathoners; its 210 grams (men size UK 8) & 164 grams (women’s size UK 4.5) but can still comfortably go the distance of a marathon.

  • seren nos wrote (see)

    how on earth can they advise re minamilist or cushioned if they have never seen us run..

     

    Hi seren nos,

    You are right, we cannot advise specific shoes without seeing your running form or knowing what terrain or distance you run.

    However, as we build a whole range of shoes to cater for every type of runner we should be able to eventually recommend something that fits your needs.

    The best solution would be to visit your local running store. They should be able to test your gait and form and then recommend you the correct type shoe.

    If you already know what type of shoe you require and what suface and distance you plan to run then we can already start to identify a couple of shoes that might fit your needs.

  • AndyRuns wrote (see)

    Like all normal people I have 1 foot slightly smaller than the other. Why can't I buy a single running shoe, so I can then make a pair that fit? Would also work for normal people who pronate more on one foot than the other, they could get a mix and match set where one offers more support than the other! image

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks for the awesome question. I think as an industry we are slowly but surely getting closer to customized footwear for the masses. With 3D printing and other cutting edge technology around the corner you will one day be able to get fully customized footwear for each foot. Unfortunately we are not there yet. It’s hard enough for us to build a running footwear product line for the billions of runners in the world where each individual runner has a different foot type, but to then be able to build a right and left foot specific shoe would be even more of a challenge.

    I think it’s inevitable, I just can’t commit to when it will happen.

  • ivor wrote (see)

    Who do I talk to about getting a pair of old-school Easy Rider fitted with Puma Disc?

    Also: Puma shoes wear out much, much quicker than all other brands. Discuss.

     

    The Spammer wrote (see)

    Do you see "mass customisation" taking off among runners/other sports users, or will it remain mainly a fashion thing? For example, Nike iD seems to be experimenting with the ability to combine different uppers and mid/out-soles in the Free line - going beyond custom stencils and colour combinations, and into different materials/levels of support, etc.

     

    The Spammer wrote (see)

    Do you see "mass customisation" taking off among runners/other sports users, or will it remain mainly a fashion thing? For example, Nike iD seems to be experimenting with the ability to combine different uppers and mid/out-soles in the Free line - going beyond custom stencils and colour combinations, and into different materials/levels of support, etc.

    I definitely see mass customization in the future.  There is so much going on with 3D printing.  Like most technology, the costs are being driven lower so that eventually consumers will be able to utilize the technology.  Puma has an Objet Connex machine in our office that we use to design and build our new midsole and outsoles each season.  Our 3D CAD team keeps a close eye on evolutions and upgrades in 3D printing and the software that runs it.

  • Thanks for your advice on a racing shoe.  If I'm racing in a Faas 300 - which shoe should I do my longer training runs in?  I think shoe brands should offer a loyalty discount for multipule purchases - is this something you offer?

     

     

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