PUMA: First of all, seems like we’re seeing a pattern of feisty animal-inspired footwear on colabs with PUMA. Was this intentional?
Woody: You’re right, there’s been loads of crazy animal stuff recently, especially leopard print which has been plastered over just about everything. We always start the sneaker design process with a clean slate and just see what comes out. Anything we do has to somehow fit the shape and context of the shoe and the general tone of the theme. The Bunyip design was actually done several years ago, so it took some time to get it looking right. With the addition of the crepe sole and the mix of materials, I’m pleased to say it was well worth the wait. This might seem strange, but it’s the actual ‘shape’ of the shoe that I dig the most. Thanks to the craftsmen at PUMA’s factory for their input and finesse – the overall dimensions and quality is beyond sublime.
P: I hate to ask this, but I’m still confused. What is a Bunyip?
W: Everyone knows about Bunyips. It’s a mythical creature.
W: The legend of the Bunyip is deeply embedded within the Australian psyche. It’s an evil spirit that lurks in muddy billabongs, creeping out under cover of darkness to scare the hell out of children. No one knows what they look like. Whatever the truth, the original source of the legend is credited to ancient aboriginal mythology. It’s the antipodean equivalent to Bigfoot.
P: How did you take that inspiration into a shoe? How did you come up with this design?
W: I’m definitely more interested in a subtle approach than trying to literally create a Bunyip in the form of a shoe with scales, lizard skin and gizzards. That kind of labored thematic design creates cornball shoes that no one wants to wear. What we wanted is exactly what we ended up with – a superb looking PUMA with outstanding materials and a unique stance, via the hard leather midsole and crepe rubber. The black suede is top shelf, there’s matte black nubuck on the Formstripe and the shoes are lined with the softest natural calf skin. You can definitely wear these Bunyips with bare feet and be confident they’ll not get the stank. We also added a little red strap to the heel, a neat little link back to the Sneaker Freaker x PUMA Blaze of Glorys that came out a few years back. All in all, it’s a determinedly simple looking shoe but I think the details speak for themselves.
P: Why did you choose the Dallas?
W: When we sat down to start work on the project, the Dallas was about to be rereleased and it seemed to fit pretty nicely with our ideas. It’s a more formal looking shoe than the Clyde or Suede. Adding the crepe sole really made the Bunyip into a unique proposition and I thought it was pretty cool of PUMA to give this shoe a totally new name. What we made is not revolutionary by any stretch but at least we actually introduced a new shoe into the world! Our normal thing is 80s and 90s runners, so this is new territory for us.
P: Truth be told, what’s your take on classic styles being re-issued versus new, innovative footwear designs?
W: There’s always a place for both. To be honest I’m mostly wearing new tech at the minute, and lightweight performance seems to be the way forward. It’s been ten years since I started Sneaker Freaker and during that time, nearly every shoe I wanted to see retroed has come out. Making something new stuff interests me, even if the Bunyip has elements of classic PUMA heritage written all over it. If you get the chance to observe the Bunyip up close in its natural habitat, only then will you appreciate the majestic splendour of this exotic creature.
The Sneaker Freaker x PUMA Bunyip sneakers, wind jacket and tee will be available at PUMA Stores and select retailers in Asia-Pacific this May.