- Sportswear maker Puma opened a new flagship store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue in New York City on Thursday.
- The sportswear company has seen steady growth in the last few years. Most recently, Puma reported a sales increase of 15.7% for the second quarter of 2019.
- “I don’t see my job as competing against all the brands. I see it as trying to be a good brand for the consumer,” Puma CEO Bjørn Gulden said.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Puma might be smaller than other leading sportswear brands.
But the German company is undoubtedly on the rise.
Admittedly, Puma rakes in less than its competitors annually but its growth is something that increasingly cannot be ignored.
“The brand is much smaller than the big names but definitely getting some traction,” VP and senior industry advisor for NPD Group Matt Powell told Footwear News earlier in August.
Executives say that the growth comes from different places.
“We’re getting better at everything that we do,” Puma’s North America President Bob Philion said, citing advancements in everything from product to marketing.
Puma re-entered the basketball sector last year to great success and plans to continue capitalizing on that market in North America. Additionally, the growing trend toward the fusion of sport and lifestyle apparel plays nicely into Puma’s general offerings.
“We’re playing in a really good space that is growing,” Philion said.
Both Philion and Gulden say that the opening of the brand’s Manhattan flagship will further represent the company’s commitment to the North American market. The store will also serve as a testing ground for what works and what doesn’t, featuring three separate interactive experiences like a simulator to test out shoes on a virtual soccer pitch.
With 18,000 square-feet spanning two floors, executives hope the flagship makes a favorable impression on the consumer in America.
“Let’s be honest,” Philion said. “The size of the prize is significant here.”
We visited the flagship right before it opened to the public and saw why Puma has been riding this wave of success.
We made our way to the location of Puma’s first-ever North American flagship a day before it opened to the public. At 18,000 square-feet with two floors, the store took up a whole corner spot.
A giant classic Puma Suede sneaker greeted us at the front of the store.
The first floor was full of clothes and shoes for women and children. We decided to begin our journey on the second floor, which was home to the men’s clothes as well as a host of interactive experiences.
Once we made our way up the escalator, we found a Birch Coffee stand in the middle of the store.
Next, we went to check out the merchandise. The clothes up here were divided by sport. We found sections for soccer, golf, motorsports, and basketball.
Before we delved into a specific sport, we made our way through some classic Puma zip-up jackets.
Though there were some sections of the store with vast sneaker displays, different designs and styles were dispersed throughout the store and were not bound to a single area.
We found a display of the classic Puma Suede sole pattern …
… which was actually the inspiration for the window pattern on the exterior of the store.
The first sports area we stopped at was motorsports.
Puma has a longstanding relationship with motorsports, so it was no surprise when our first interactive stop featured this car-racing simulator where shoppers could “race” professional-grade F1 simulator cars through the streets of New York.
The course starts and finishes in the flagship store and is guided by some of the brand’s motorsports partners like Lewis Hamilton.
In this section, we also found merchandise from Puma’s own in-line brand, as well as items from different Puma-made collections.
These sleek motorsport racing shoes caught our eyes, even though we’re not racers.
Next, we crossed into the soccer section. Here, we found everything from soccer jerseys to cleats.
And we found these swanky cleats that looked ready to hit the field.
Luckily, customers could test out the shoes in Puma’s Skill Cube, the second interactive stop on our journey.
Next stop: golf. The golfing section also had a wide variety of shoes, apparel, and other accessories.
The mannequins here were positioned in the middle of the action, golf club in hand.
So far, we had been vastly impressed with the array of merchandise available to us.
Puma re-entered the basketball market last year to great success. Zoning in on merchandise for this sport is part of the plan to further invest in Puma’s North American market, executives told us.
The final interactive experience was brought to us by the basketball section. Here, we found all the ingredients for a video-gaming experience.
The program wasn’t fully set up when we visited, but the large screen and gaming consoles were waiting at the ready.
There were also a few stands holding basketballs with the handprints of different basketball players, like Los Angeles Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins.
This display was oddly reminiscent of Wilson, the famous volleyball in the hit film Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks.
We found that a lot of clothes were fashionable outside the context of sports. “The border between performance and street has kind of disappeared,” CEO Bjørn Gulden told us.
The fusion of lifestyle and sport was certainly evident in the store — and was probably one of the brand’s biggest assets.
Toward the back of the store, we found a customization studio where shoppers could personalize Puma products with paints, dyes, patchwork, embroidery, laser printing, and other mediums.
The store will partner with different artists-in-residence every two weeks. Beginning Labor Day weekend, Chinatown Market will use its printing technology to teach customers different personalization techniques.
There were dozens of different logos and designs laid out on the table.
We headed back downstairs to check out of the rest of the store. The main floor held the women’s and kid’s clothes.
In the kid’s section, we found everything from shoes …
… to little hoodies, which we thought were adorable.
The women’s section featured a nice array of lifestyle and sport attire.
We found some colorful sports bras on display …
… as well as some t-shirts and hoodies that balanced sport and lifestyle nicely.
We also found a whole section of products specifically designed for the Puma flagship in NYC, featuring elements and shapes from the city landscape.
From its interactive add-ons to its blend of sport and lifestyle merchandise, Puma’s new flagship store offered an experience unique from that of Nike and Adidas. We left the store understanding why the company has been doing so well.