After having a rough patch from 2010 – 2013, PUMA made a comeback into the spotlight with its signings of some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. Rihanna, Kylie Jenner, The Weeknd and Big Sean. The recent signing of Selena Gomez is an indication that they wish to continue with their focused cultural icon based campaigns. The focused campaigns paid off and became successful largely due to their ingenuity. The latest introduction to the PUMA catalogue is called the Tsugi. Literally meaning “next” in Japanese, this new futuristic silhouette is inspired by the unconventional design elements used in the architecture of a global cultural hot-spot – Japan. Updating its own classic models has a cross-over effect as the newer breed of sneaker lovers gets to see the history of what inspired the shoes on their feet while bringing newer materials to the originals lovers something new on the shape they’ve loved all these years.
The Devil is in the details
Based on the classic Blaze of Glory silhouette (hence the name TSUGI Blaze), this street runner merges the best of both the worlds. Unlike the Ignite Limitless which was a performance focused model, the TSUGI Blaze is constructed with lifestyle running in mind. A simple comparison between the two midsoles is enough to deduce what each one represents. Not just the toebox but the entire upper comprises of evoKnit with an open weave detailing. The sock-fit ankle collar is backed by a slick tall black pull-tab stitched into the sock collar. The embroidered branding appears on the tongue with just the leaping cougar in all black and no lettering. The cougar also appears on the back of the woven heel gore strap stitched onto a rubber panel that acts as the heel piece. The Signature Blaze of Glory style dual panel lace closure system serves as the cage that keeps the sock fit in check.
The midsole is everything to write home about. The saw-tooth pattern is hard to miss and ascends from front to back becoming more pronounced right under the collar. The pattern on the heel is reinforced aesthetically with a u-shaped thick section that makes it look beautiful. Reading IGNITE in bold on the lateral side, the bottom of the mid-sole gives the impression of a blake welt but is clearly machined to perfection with a razer edged pattern. I love this particular detail because it gives the shoe a whole lot of character. Finally onto the outsole which has been over-pronounced under the heel section deliberately giving the impression that it’s excessive rubber, when it’s not, but it is (zomgwtfbbq!!!!). The all-white IGNITE foam is visible through out the horizontal slits on the all black outsole with a white button-esque IGNITE branding along with the cougar at the bottom. The nice and thick rope laces with standard plastic aglets are the finishing touch.
It feels shallow. At first, it does. It feels like the in-sole is higher than it should be and that the sock won’t reach your ankle properly but once you slip your foot in, the beautiful heel piece kicks in as the sock expands in all the directions. Just like all the knit shoes, the TSUGI Blaze evoKNIT has a lip to it as well around the lateral side of the toebox. Don’t fret, it’s deliberate. It’s only when you slide your hand inside the shoe and feel that part do you realise that it’s necessary. It’s also harder to press in with your thumb compared to the rest of the perimeter. It doesn’t try to strangle your toe or anything but is actually a small protective detail a lot of people are bound to overlook. The pair fits true to size and is breathable, comfortable, durable, and lightweight. As with all the sneakers with Knit uppers, the arches and the toebox will press onto your foot on the first wear but once past that point, you’ll be walking on water.
Puma have always been abreast of competition when it comes to design. Even their originals were ahead of their time. Just pick up a regular pair of Blaze of Glory and compare it to any shoe of its time from another brand. Found anything? The TSUGI Blaze evoKNIT is easy to wear with Joggers, skinny denim, fitted tracks, workout tights, shorts and tech-wear in general. Due to most of the outsole up-front touching the ground, the overall signature of the shoe is flatter giving you a more planted feel. As usual, the overall design and aesthetics are on another level unmatched by any other silhouette that boasts the materials used on this pair. It’s easy on the eyes and on the feet while looking spectacular with any type of bottom-wear. Heel drag feels like a thing of the past with sneakers of today. It’s a great time to be alive, watch these transitions and collect them all.
Thanks to the team over at PUMA India and Scoop PR for sending over this pair of the Tsugi Blaze evoKNIT! The colorway is perfect for the season and has already become a part of my weekly rotation.
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