An Interview with Run Puma’s Global Director
PUMA is making bold, innovative changes at every level right now: to product, brand, performance and culture. Erin Longin, global director of Run PUMA, plays a huge role in that transformation, so we were stoked to ask her a few questions.
She shared her insights on tech developments (the new Nitro releases chief among them), some exciting upcoming collabs and why PUMA believes women are the future of running. Plus, what PUMA’s timely partnership with Molly Seidel means for the brand. The throughline here? Putting performance first to keep on being Forever Faster. Read on!
PUMA has a unique history in running. Innovations like the Disc and the Computer Shoe are classic moments in sneaker history. When you sit down to develop a new performance product, does the past inform the present in any way?
PUMA has a strong history across running and all sports, and we are incredibly inspired by our heritage. Our heritage comes to life in running because, as the Forever Faster brand, we challenge ourselves to be cutting edge in terms of technology and also fashion. Nitro is a great example of PUMA pushing boundaries and delivering on that speed that has been in our DNA since 1948.
“Looking at our relaunch of PUMA Running and into the future, we truly believe women are the future of running.”
For a long time, collabs were strictly for lifestyle sneakers and didn’t really reach to the world of performance running. That has changed and in the past few years we’re seeing collaborators put their spin on performance styles. Are collabs on the radar for the new running silhouettes?
Yes, Run PUMA has some really exciting collabs that are already out – with more to come. For us, we are inspired by our partners and their authenticity in the performance space. In 2021, we introduced our Helly Hansen x Run PUMA collab which was our first performance collab with HH. Heading into the back half of this year, we will have collabs with other credible running brands like Tracksmith, and Kaiser Sport Orthopedic in Denmark, and we will continue with our commitment to sustainability through our First Mile collab.
For years, PUMA Running was associated with Usain Bolt. After his years of dominance, does PUMA attempt to find the next Usain Bolt, or is that impossible?
Usain Bolt is a grand brand ambassador for us, no doubt about it, and will forever be associated with PUMA. Looking at our relaunch of PUMA Running and into the future, we truly believe women are the future of running. With our eyes set on focusing more on distance running to build off of our track and field success, we signed athletes like Molly Seidel, Sara Vaugh, Annie Frisbee and Dakotah Lindwurm to represent PUMA Running. In fact, we have four of the top 10 female marathoners in the USA – in addition to strong international runners like Hendrick Pfeiffer in Germany, Pat Tiernan of Australia and Yuta Shitara in Japan. We will also continue our investment in sprinting and track and field as we expand into the distance and road running space.
Molly Seidel has been amazing for PUMA – you got her at the right time and she's thriving. How important has she been to validate the product on the biggest stages in distance running?
Molly hit at the perfect time. I like to say half the runners wanted to try the new Nitro line because they heard good reviews and the other half wanted to after Molly’s inspiring Olympic bronze medal in the marathon. Molly is perfect for us because she’s more than just a fast runner – she’s a self-described “shoe nerd”, is relatable to runners everywhere and believes in giving back to the running community, such as her support of Girls Gotta Run in Ethiopia.
We're seeing a lot of brands do really similar things at the moment, whether in footwear evolution, the way they sponsor training groups or how they show up in the market. In a hyper-competitive industry, where do you believe PUMA has an advantage over the other players?
Everyone knows PUMA, and has the socks and sweatshirts, so visibility is not the problem. What we solved for with our running relaunch is delivering running shoes that deliver performance at the highest level, with progressive designs. This is step one in our two-part strategy: deliver innovation across the board, including for race day. Step two is to keep a runner’s favourite shoe consistent, which is why you will see updates to Velocity Nitro (version 2) and Deviate Nitro (version 2) in 2022. The same great training shoes you love, with slight tweaks to make them better.
Speaking of the updated Velocity Nitro, here’s what we know about it and the Deviate Nitro Elite. The names are a bit of a clue, and both shoes feature Nitro foam. That’s where supercritical nitrogen (the result of a process of heating and pressurisation that allows a material’s liquid and gaseous forms to coexist) is infused into a foam “embryo”. This is then moulded into a midsole that is 30% lighter than PUMA’s high-performance ProFoam Lite, returns 74–80% of impact energy and features shock absorption up to 40% better than earlier models.
The Velocity Nitro 2 is a neutral all-rounder for any distance or speed. It’s super comfy, a well-fitting and durable shoe built for a smooth ride. With a stabilised heel matched to a low boot cut, and with reflective accents for night running, this shoe will see you through, whatever the conditions.
The Deviate Nitro Elite is an uncompromising feat of race day engineering. It features two layers of PUMA’s supercritical peba-based elite version of Nitro, called Nitro Elite. The sole also incorporates PUMA’s new fully carbon fibre Innoplate technology, offering maximum responsiveness and propulsion for when you’re going all out.
What's the timeline for fleshing out a fuller product line-up for runners? As you know, many of us will rotate three or four different pairs of shoes throughout a week for different use cases, and then maybe another pair for trails etc. How deep can we expect the product line-up to be in the next couple of seasons?
PUMA is only continuing to invest in the running space – across the board and in product specifically. We have a great road running line-up, two excellent racers in Deviate Elite and Fast-R Nitro Elite, and we’re expanding our trail offering in the back half of 2022 with our Seasons Outdoor collection.
Can you describe the PUMA consumer? What's their relationship with running?
New runners and those with a history with our brand will all love the new Nitro range. Whether you’ve been running for a long time or took up the sport during the pandemic, we believe we have the right shoe for you to get out the door and run with an effortless ride.