“Urban mobility”

As most of you know, I pay a decent amount of attention to products offered under the Puma brand. Even when a particular item or line doesn’t quite do it for me – and this happens more and more often with every passing year, presumably because I’m ever more decisively aging out of their target demo – there’s generally something ever so slightly more interesting about the stance and overall aesthetic of the things they sell than those of competitors Adidas and Nike.

Nor should it come as any surprise that I’m going to be especially interested in a line called “Urban Mobility,” which has at various points over the last two years consisted of shoes, baggage, clothing, and even a white-labeled Biomega bike.

In Puma’s conception, urban mobility apparently has to do with affording the wearer free movement of the body, protecting him or her against inclement conditions, and offering plenty of pockets. These are not clothes for sitting in cars, riding on buses, or waiting on subway platforms, in other words; apparently, getting around the city is something that must be negotiated parkour-style, in the remorseless arena of the physical, unaided by anything infrastructural.

I’m not necessary put out by the fact that the line invests the act of getting around the city with a glamour entirely missing from most of the actual, everyday transactions involved – after all, isn’t that kind of the point of fashion? Nor am I even that surprised by the relative functional underperformance of the garments and luggage, their elevation of (nice-ish) typography and silly posturing over any real utility. (Though if you’re going to do “urban mobility,” you might as well do it.)

No, the biggest disappointment to me in all of this, by far, is that not a single one of the artifacts included in the Urban Mobility line partakes of or refers to the networked information real-world city mobility is increasingly built upon. It’s not just a question of Puma being a maker of stuff, not services; remember, even the abortive Trainaway offering included online and audio components. It’s a failure of imagination and understanding.

At the very least, how hard would it have been to gin up an Urban Mobility iPhone app? I mean, sure, it’s the kind of flavor-of-the-month thing I generally decry, an initative which would at first blush appear heir to all the sad-ass metooism of most such marketing efforts. But in this case there would at least be some logic and justification underwriting the effort, considering that urban mobility is manifestly what people do with these devices.

I know, I know: I’m being too literal. I’m failing to grasp that concern for function is too often the death of fantasy. More importantly, I’m failing to account for the fact that the whole collection is past its sell-by date (and doesn’t seem to have done that well to begin with). I’m showing my age, my lack of edge, whatever. Mark my words, though: such efforts are going to feel increasingly weak and incomplete without a networked component of some type, and the more so the greater the degree to which the posture subtends a domain in which the informatic is primary.

3 responses to ““Urban mobility””

  1. Kurt says :

    Nice points about the campaign. But I need to vent on the passing points you make about Puma not doing it for you anymore…

    I’m with you man — it kills me that Puma have not come correct with a great new shoe in years.

    Now, as you and I are in the same demographic, you might be right to say that I/we only think like this coz we’re ageing out of their target demographic.

    But I must protest. My students at uni, who are most certainly in the target demographic, mostly seem to be wearing the re-issues intended to keep us old fogies in play, rather than the new stuff that’s intended for them.

    Therefore, it must be Puma, not us, who suck. Easy. :-)

    • AG says :

      LOL. OK!

      Actually, while it’s true it cannot hold a candle to a Samba, I think the original Mostro is quite credible. It’s a shame they’ve simply been iterating it in ever-weaker form since.

  2. Kurt says :

    OK, I’ll concede that … although I’m still suspicious of a shoe without laces. Changing the laces is one of the few means we have available to us to feel less like brand suckers and more like maverick individuals, ya know? ;-)

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