Sportswear brands and car companies working together is nothing new. For instance, Puma is a Ferrari Formula One team official sponsor and even makes its drivers’ shoes. However, the collaboration between Puma and BMW’s Designworks division turns the traditional relationship on its head.
Revealed in June 2008, Project GINA was an outlandish BMW concept car. Created by a design team led by Chris Bangle, it rejected a steel, aluminum or carbon fiber outer shell in favour of a lightweight manmade fabric skin that could stretch and literally change shape to optimise aerodynamics. A single piece of fabric also meant no cut lines or shut lines, just ‘creases’ when the doors opened.
And some eight years later, BMW is testing if this same innovation can elevate the running shoe.
“The approach was to look at every aspect of making a shoe and to try and reimagine it. Freeing yourself of what is here now can be an enjoyable and rewarding exercise. Typically, it also speeds up change,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president BMW Group Design.
The result, the Puma X-Cat Disc uses the same malleable waterproof material that covered the GINA and ditches traditional laces for the Puma Disc system. Turning the disc tightens or loosens the shoe and because there are no seams, simply elastic tendons connecting the fastener to the training shoe, the X-Cat fits to the foot like a second skin, gripping all the way around as the entire upper pulls in or out.
“We have transformed the essence of the shape-shifting GINA car into a streamlined and elegant shoe,” says Torsten Hochstetter, global creative director at Puma.
As otherworldly and futuristic as the Project GINA car seemed in 2008, it still remains a concept today and is sitting in a museum.
However, the shoe it inspired is anything but. The Puma X-Cat Disc will be going on sale, globally in selected outlets from 1 July.