Footwear, form and function
The word ‘Turbo’ and the typography on the rear view is unmistakeable, the sporty silhouette a giveaway, the bold colours, as ever, a statement. Exclusivity. Originality. And timeless design. But this is the Porsche 911 Turbo as you’ve never seen it before – as the inspiration for a range of sharp-looking, desirable sneakers designed with its partner Puma. Designed, like the car, for performance. To turn heads.
Fifty years ago, sneakers were all about function – many would wear them for sport, few for fashion reasons. And then hip-hop happened. Fashion, music, art and dance combined like never before. Breakdancers wore sneakers for functional reasons but they quickly became an essential part of the uniform of a cultural youth phenomenon. By 2025, the global athletic footwear market is set to reach $95 billion a year, according to 2018 projections from San Francisco-based research experts, Grand View Research. Today, sneaker culture is fashion trends, lifestyle, modern art and sport all rolled into one and moves at a dizzying pace. Which is where Porsche comes in…
Turbo-charging the future of Porsche
Let’s head to the USA, the spiritual home of the sneaker. When, back in 2018, Porsche Cars North America began discussing the launch of the new 911 Turbo – set to take place in in the summer of 2020 – they began thinking about how they might celebrate the model that’s synonymous with the company perhaps like no other. And about how to reach out to a new audience. To the Porsche 911 Turbo buyers of the future.
Sneakers have the ability to transcend audiences. And that was our goal. To reach a younger audience
“We identified that sneaker culture was bleeding into high fashion, bleeding into pop culture,” says Scott DeVault, says E-Performance Manager at Porsche Cars North America. “Sneakers are a subset of the fashion industry but have an audience much greater than that – they’ve become part of pop culture. Just about anyone can recognise a Jordan or Yeezy silhouette from 30 feet away. We knew it had the ability to transcend audiences. And that was our goal. To reach a younger audience.”
“We asked ‘How do we celebrate the eighth generation of the Turbo in a way that combines sneaker culture and fashion into the Porsche language?’” continues Scott, taking up the story of how Porsche chose its partner. He and his colleagues knew that merely throwing some garish colours at it just wouldn’t do.
The magnificent eight
With renowned sports shoe manufacturer Puma having just become Porsche’s partner for motorsports apparel, a serendipitous arrangement began to emerge, says Scott. Between them they began the process of designing and creating eight separate sneakers to represent the eight generations of 911 Turbo. The first four air-cooled Turbo cars, beginning with the 930, were the recipient of the retro-inspired Future Rider design and the four most recent iterations took on the sleek, modern Speedcat ‘silhouette’.
We reached out to the Porsche Museum to verify each logo so we were able to sew the specific one for each generation onto the tongue and heel of the shoe
“It was the little things that were very important to get right,” Scott explains. “It was about trying to find those nods [to the different generations of 911 Turbo] that would hook people in to wanting to learn a little bit more about each of the models.”
The beauty’s in the detail
That meant an attention to detail to cheer any Porsche fanatic, digging deep into ancient collections of marketing materials and old digital files. “Each of the generation logos were slightly different,” says Scott. “We then had to reach out to the Porsche Museum to verify each of the logos. The badge that went on the rear of the vehicle was rescanned to make sure that we were accurate in our depictions. From that we were able to sew the specific logo for each generation onto the tongue and the heel of the shoe.”
Survival of the quickest
Each shoe also got a distinct colourway that best depicted the generation of 911 Turbo it represents. There are appearances by notable Porsche colours like Guards Red, although it’s the striking Mint Green picked out for the 964 Turbo that is a particular favourite of his, says Scott. And this innovative project didn’t end there. A pre-sale was held on Porsche Design’s E-commerce site which lasted exactly 2.7 seconds – the exact 0-60mph time of the new 992 Turbo. If you weren’t quick enough on the draw with your finger, you were too late. A thousand posters had been printed to be dispatched with each pair. Porsche and Puma ended up having to print many more. Incredibly, some 1,350 pairs of the 4,000 produced were sold in those 2.7 seconds.
“We had 911 Turbo owners calling us saying ‘How do I get these shoes?’ says Scott. “These are repeat Porsche buyers that have been with the brand for decades. And with the 2.7sec pre-sale, we also created something that tapped into sneaker culture and engaged with a younger audience. To be able to accomplish both, within the same project, was really special.”
For many 911 Turbo owners of the future, it seems, it’s a love affair that will have started with them tying their laces in the morning.