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Puma is a sportswear and "sports lifestyle" brand based in Germany. Its mascot and symbol is the silhouette of a leaping mountain lion. Its other famous logo is the "Formstripe," a three-sectioned wave pattern that is definitely not to be confused with rival designs like the Nike "swoosh" or the Adidas triple stripe. Puma is the latecomer to the sports-as-fashion scene, but it's working hard to catch up.
Fun fact: Puma is essentially a twin company -- and a bitter rival -- to Adidas. The Dassler brothers, Adolf and Rudolf, started an athletic shoe company together in 1924. They made the spikes that Jesse Owens wore to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. By 1948, however, they were barely speaking to each other and agreed to split the company in half. Little Adolf "Adi" Dassler formed Adidas while older brother Rudolph launched Puma.
Puma stayed a small family-owned European brand for several decades, although it raised its international profile beginning in the 1970s by sponsoring Brazilian soccer legend Pele. In the 1980s, Rudolph Dassler's sons sold the company to a Swiss conglomerate. Puma wasn't a major player in the U.S. market until the mid-1990s.
Puma's main claim to fame is its soccer shoes. It helps that they've sponsored two of the greatest soccer players in history: Pele and the Argentinian Diego Maradona. Puma as a brand is particularly popular in Africa, where it sponsors more than a dozen national teams. The company also makes highly regarded track shoes, baseball cleats and driving suits. Jamaican track star Usain Bolt famously wore golden Puma shoes for his world-record-setting 100-m dash in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Lifestyle and Fashion
In recent years, Puma has made a conscious effort to branch out into the fashion and lifestyle arenas with casual sportswear and crossover shoe styles. As part of this effort, Puma has collaborated with designers such as Phillipe Starck, Jil Sander, Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan, the company's current creative director. The company has also begun to open more retail stores worldwide.
In a March 2011 speech at the Boldness in Business Awards, then-CEO Jochen Zeitz declared that corporations "have to do more good rather than just less bad." In that spirit, Puma has undertaken a commitment to sustainable business practices, redesigning its shoe packaging to eliminate the cardboard box entirely. Instead, it packs shoes into a "Clever Little Bag," thus reducing paper waste and carbon emissions significantly.