Puma’s creative director takes Boardroom behind the scenes of the “High Court” collection and her signature approach to apparel design for women athletes.
When Puma re-launched its Basketball category for the first time in nearly two decades in 2018, a key pillar of the return to hoops was outlined right away.
“We’ve long known that no matter what we do in the space of basketball, it was going to have to include the women’s game and the WNBA,” Adam Petrick, Puma global director of brand and marketing, said at the time.
With WNBA All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith already in the fold as a featured ambassador, the foundation was soon set with the additions of top 2019 draft picks Jackie Young and Katie Lou Samuelsohn. Earlier this spring, Puma signed the league’s reigning Finals MVP Breanna Stewart ahead of the W’s 25th anniversary season – while also announcing that Stewie would soon become just the 10th woman in WNBA history to receive her own signature shoe.
In the background, longtime renowned costume designer, stylist, and brand-builder June Ambrose had also been added to the fold, named Creative Director of Puma Basketball in late 2020. Known for her groundbreaking looks first seen in iconic music videos during the late 1990s, Ambrose was tasked with looking to define the design language of the budding new Puma Women’s Basketball category, an entirely new endeavor for the company.
“The brand itself is such an iconic brand, growing up in the Bronx and always seeing how it was infused in the hip hop culture,” Ambrose told Boardroom. “So there’s so much nostalgia to be able to come full circle and be working with them.”
As Ambrose told Boardroom in an exclusive sit-down interview from Puma’s New York Showroom, the launch of her first design capsule for Puma Women’s Basketball – the High Court Collection – bridges together all of the dynamics and attributes that each of its WNBA stars represent, along with a celebration of the strides that women have made throughout the timeline of sports.
“Thinking about the women that we were celebrating, how amazingly fearless and iconic [that] female basketball players are,” continued Ambrose. “And the fact that they’re not just ballplayers – they’re wives, they’re sisters, they’re daughters, they’re friends – they’re women. Taking them off the court was really part of the process too.”
The full collection, a two-part series of drops both this month and in early 2022, is comprised of everything from graphic print jackets, multiple pants, tops, and sports bras, to remixed styles of some of the brand’s classic models like the signature Ralph Sampson and Suede.
“She is helping to redefine the women’s hoops category for PUMA,” said Diggins-Smith. “Which is inspiring for me personally to see a collection that not only focuses on female athletes, but merges performance with fashion.”