Back in May of 2023, the German sportswear company Puma entered a multi-year partnership with the rapidly expanding Formula 1 racing. From a historical perspective, the deal made a lot of sense. Puma has a long and storied history with the sport of racing in general. Since the mid-80s, the brand has produced everything from their iconic racing shoes to fireproof overalls. But for the past decade or so, it has been less emphasized with the development of Puma’s soccer, athletic training, and even basketball lines. This move represents an effort to return the brand to racing dominance. Formula 1 is a perfect partner for this.
Though Formula 1 began in 1950, the sport has seen tremendous growth in the past few years. Revenue has grown at a rate of 20% compared to 2021 and attendance is set to grow at a rate of 36% compared to 2019. This is due to growing momentum in the United States’ market, in part thanks to projects like Netflix’s “F1: Drive to Survive” which have allowed American consumers to pick up the recurring and developing storylines of the ultra-competitive field. This recognition has driven expansion and growth to the sport in general.
Puma and F1’s partnership, which entitled Puma to produce and exclusively sell F1 and team apparel, footwear, and accessories, added a key influencer to their deal. In late October, in an F1 press release it was announced that rapper A$AP Rocky would be designated as the Creative Director of all products coming from this line.
Formula 1 states in their release that “A$AP Rocky’s fashion knowledge, style, and cultural expertise is set to help bring a new perspective to F1’s growing audience, as he will be developing bespoke capsule collections designed by him, that will influence the brand’s seasonal design directions moving forward.” His work will begin to be released sometime in 2024 with an extremely limited Puma x F1 apparel and accessory drop and a specially curated collection for the Miami Grand Prix on May 5th.
The move is clearly an attempt to further ingratiate the American audiences, as the Harlem native has been a hip-hop icon since his release of his mixtape “Live. Love. A$AP” in 2011. In addition to his fashion knowledge, it seems clear that his 17.9 million followers on Instagram and 29 million monthly listeners on Spotify had something to do with his introduction to the line.
Whether it is Puma trying to reclaim some of the sportswear market or F1 continuing its rise to prominence, it will be fascinating to watch how these two firms can put their collective forces together to take advantage of emerging markets. With the help of superstar A$AP Rocky, this new partnership is poised to become a force-to-be-reckoned with.
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