PUMA Te-Ku 80
- MODEL: PUMA TE-KU 80
- TYPE: TENNIS
- MADE IN: YUGOSLAVIA
Undoubtedly a definitive sign of PUMA’s originality as a brand, these low-cut casual trainers are unique in almost every detail, especially for the time of their release.
And while the exact date of this particular pair is unknown, Professor B. sheds some light on the history of the Te-Ku model family in his write-up of our West German-made pair. He also explains the name, Te-Ku, which stands as an abbreviation for ‘Tennis und Kunstrasen’, or ‘tennis and artificial grass (aka AstroTurf)’ in English. The main difference between this pair and the West German made ones is of course the suede layer over the sole unit directly beneath the toe box and it’s also worth mentioning that the entire sole unit is different, showing a rougher edge surface and absolutely smoothed off bottom as well. Two features that I personally think make the non-80 Te-Ku stand out even more so than it’s Yugoslavian brethren.
But all else is basically the same, most notably the overall, monochrome suede upper, which is fantastically colored against the dark gum outsole. Wide toe box reinforcement layer that runs up and around the tongue providing eyestays in the not-so-usual style that gives the upper more attention. Large thick outsole with a smooth, glazed look and absolutely no traction on the bottom; literally clean. Quite useless for precise movement in real terrain but fantastic indoors and still very attractive due to its rarity in the wild.
Both toebox and heel are extremely firm, quite supportive, and while this is great the outsole itself is incredibly inflexible, making this a definite no-go for any type of action-based recreation or excessive sporting activity. Casually however, these will commonly have folks asking ‘what are those?’
While we’re guessing a drop date of around the early ’80s, the only thing we can say for certain is that most people wondering what these are might not even notice that PUMA retro’d a strikingly different pair in 2004 that not only blasted a brighter colorway on the upper but put them onto some seriously advanced sole units. Sam Arojo goes on to explain the advancements of technology within that article and the importance of the Te-Ku model family, from its humble beginnings in tennis and handball, to its resting place in the future, waiting for the day it’s brought out to light again.
written by Dylan Cromwell
photography by errol