The Weeknd has been what Puma calls a "brand ambassador" since September 2016, joining the likes of Kanye West, Rihanna, and Big Sean as celebrities dabbling in footwear. Monday, the Weeknd-Puma partnership took a big next step when the German-based sportswear brand unveiled the pop star's first-ever signature sneaker: the Puma Parallel. The Starboysinger spoke to Footwear Newsabout the collaboration, and he (real name: Abel Tesfaye) hopes people will want to rock the new style. "To be honest, I just want to see everyone wearing it," he told FN. According to The Weeknd, that "everyone" includes guys like Barack Obama, Elon Musk, and even the Pope.
More interesting, even, than Tesfaye's imagined endorsements is the sneaker itself. The Parallel is essentially a mash-up of some of the coolest kicks of 2017. You can catch a little bit Yeezy Season's crepe boot, and Fear of God's Military sneakers, with a dash of a Vans Sk-8 Hi in there too. This instantly makes the kicks—which retail for $220—appealing to anyone who doesn't want to shell out $1,000 for shoes like FoG's or Kanye's, and who wants something that everyone else isn't already wearing. “He had a strong idea about what footwear should look like if it was put through The Weeknd’s filter,” Adam Petrick, global director of brand and marketing at Puma, told FN. If you look at the way The Weeknd dresses in his daily life—relying heavily on Yeezy-influenced oversized tees, slim jeans, and Fear of God-like bomber jackets—it's easy to see why he'd design his new Puma sneaker in that same vein. His recent fashion collaboration with H&M played on the military inspiration Yeezy and Fear of God also love, and he even modeled Yeezy Season 1 for GQ back in October of 2015. It's clear The Weeknd wanted to create a shoe that would align with his own taste—which, helpfully, happens to align with some of the biggest trends in menswear right now.
The Parallels, then, represent Tesfaye's bid for a mass audience—and they'll serve as a test case of whether a nonathlete celebrity (who isn't Kanye West) can convince a mass audience to shell out $220 for a pair of sneakers. Now, that's not an absurd price for sneakers in today's climate (Yeezy Boosts are the exact same price, and LeBron James' signature sneakers run $200), but Tesfaye does not have the reach fashion-wise of Kanye, or sports-wise of LeBron. Don't get us wrong: The Weeknd is a stylish guy, and he definitely has boatloads of fans who will turn out to cop these sneakers. But expecting a not-quite-cheap style that looks like a bunch of other, more-hyped sneakers to end up on the feet of three of the most powerful men in the world will require some significant legwork—and maybe a version that comes in plain black.
$220, available on August 24th at Kith.