PUMA First Round “Chinese New Year”

  • MADE ON: 09/08
  • ART.NO: 347439 01

Released in two colorways, PUMA’s Chinese New Year edition of their classic First Round silhouette was both daring and predictable, resulting in a pair that provides ample controversy for the consumer.

When I first laid eyes on the Chinese New Year release I was in downtown San Francisco chasing Chris Law’s much more mainstream Snoop Dogg Freemont’s which had just recently dropped. While waiting for a pair in the correct size to be retrieved from the back room I found myself exploring the PUMA racks, but who knows why; at the time I hadn’t strayed from my loyalty to the three stripes a single bit. I certainly do not intend for this article to juxtapose my two favorite German brands, nor do I intend to dilute the attention the cat company should get with mentions of the trefoil tribe. However, it’s worth it to say that when I laid my eyes on the Chinese New Year First Rounds I had completely forgotten all about my pursuit to purchase some suspiciously eyeballed rapper’s release (even if it was designed by the masterful CLAW).

Granted, the pair I saw was the alternative – mostly red – colorway (not pictured here), but the majority of stand-out features are shared between the two, regardless of hues. Largely the embroidered scale pattern, which is awesome, no doubt, but definitely and infinitely predictable. Execution of the Chinese detailing on the tongue and especially on the lateral side is just supreme, adding a small flare that such a calligraphy groupie (as I myself am) cannot ignore. On closer inspection the finer pattern framing the leaping PUMA cat on the heel tab (also known internally to the company as the FOT) is just beautiful.

Without too much of a story behind them, they were produced to celebrate the Year of the Ox and released in late 2008. The tongue markings are actually a Chinese calendar and the Kanji lettering on the side is a holiday phrase regarding the New Year. So these parts, while nice, are the predictable parts of course, though the combination of patent and traditional leather is a bit more daring, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoy both colorway options.

Details aside, I’ll ashamedly admit that the silhouette itself was new to me at the time so in some ways I was hit with the novelty of the find (unlike nowadays when neither a funky First Round nor a brand new Clyde will immediately impress me upon its shape – not that they’re not dope, just that they’re not ‘new’ for me anymore) and part of my journey of footwear discovery is all about the hunt. And for these that persists on, as they didn’t have any sizes that would fit me in San Francisco so I’ve since then had my antennae out for a perfect pair (which isn’t insanely hard to come by, even though they are a bit rare) though at the right price, of course.

written by Dylan Cromwell

photography by errol

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