Renowned stylist and costume designer June Ambrose has designed a slew of fashion collections since stepping into the limelight in the early 90s, but her last for Puma – her first co-branded collection with the sports giant as director creative – has Ambrose taking a unique design approach, looking to the past, present and future of the brand.

“This is an exciting time in my life for many reasons,” Ambrose said from his office at Puma’s headquarters in New York. “It’s my 29th year as a costume designer, stylist and art director, and it’s 50 years of hip-hop. So 2023 is the year I counted the points. This is the culmination of my contribution to culture. I think everything is in a bubble right now with this collection. It’s called “Keeping Score”, so it’s more than just fashion. I really wanted to infuse performance and style. Life is a sport, so we continue that narrative with this collection.

Ambrose’s “Keeping Score” collection features 20 pieces for women, half of which debut Thursday. The collection is designed in a burgundy and navy color palette and features both fashion and sportswear pieces like an oversized hoodie, a removable mesh jersey sports bra, an adjustable midi maxi skirt and slippers. color block leggings. The collection also features Ambrose’s take on the classic Puma Ralph Sampson sneaker and the Prevail sneaker. Ambrose’s line is available at Puma stores, on its website, and at select retailers worldwide. Coins range from $30 to $200 retail.

The costume designer first joined Puma in 2020 as creative director of the women’s basketball category, launching a collection called “High Court” the following year which included fashion and sportswear designs to match. what the brand offered in men’s basketball. Ambrose’s “High Court” collection was a hit, with retailer Nordstrom seeing the faux fur jacket, reversible beanie and other styles in the collection sell out on launch day. Specialty retailer Woodstack also saw the collection’s beanie have a 90% sell rate and other accessories a 70% sell rate.

“[Ambrose’s] My whole career has been about bridging the gap between streetwear and fashion and really elevating our stories, elevating the look of our athletes and our ambassadors,” said Adam Petrick, Puma Brand Director. “When it came to figuring out what we were going to do to meaningfully provide an equal approach to our women’s basketball program, I think it was only natural that June, from a storytelling and a l brand elevation, have a huge impact on that. . And it absolutely was.

Models of

Styles of “Keeping Score”.

Courtesy of Puma

Given the success of “High Court,” Ambrose leaned into some of the style elements of the collection when designing “Keeping Score,” such as high-waisted leggings with color-block lines. Ambrose also looked to 50 years of hip-hop for the collection, incorporating oversized styles with vintage washes. She drew inspiration from Puma’s extensive history in sportswear and added her own modern, high-fashion twist meant to take the collection into the future.

“There’s something about hip-hop culture that’s shameless,” she explained. “When you think of some of the images from the early 80s and 90s that are still timeless and classic and you’ve seen them reinvented and repeated, it really tells you that hip-hop is a timeless musical genre. I wanted to create something something that would make it feel like a timeless kind of sportswear.

“Keeping Score” will launch in two drops — the first is more subdued than Ambrose’s previous collections, she said, with a muted color palette. She explained that she went with this design strategy to give the collection a “classic and rich” appearance and infuse more of a lifestyle aesthetic.

Along with leaning into his “High Court” collection, Ambrose has also leveraged his experience working with Puma for the line. Ambrose said she’s been a fan of Puma since growing up in New York’s South Bronx and witnessing the rise of music culture. She said she noticed who the brand had partnered with or endorsed, and used it in one of the first music videos she created for Missy Elliott.

“For June, his main goal is to take a classic and redefine it,” said Emory Jones, co-founder of streetwear brand Paper Planes, who serves as a creative consultant for Puma. “Some people always want to come in and change who you are. The difference is you can’t change the brand. You have to tap into the history and the legacy of the brand and redefine it so that people of a new generation understand it.

June Ambrose

June Ambrose

Lexie Moreland/WWD

Being relevant in the world of fashion has been an important strategy for Puma, which has worked with brands in the industry for 25 years, according to Petrick, to “find new and exciting ways to push the culture around sport.” The brand began its fashion partnerships with French fashion brand Xuly.Bët in 1996, later partnering with fashion houses and designers like Jil Sander, Alexander McQueen and Miharayasuhiro, among others. The brand’s foray into high fashion has also been bolstered by its celebrity collaborations, including with Rihanna and Dua Lipa.

“We certainly try to be as unique as possible when it comes to finding that happy medium between sport and fashion,” Petrick said of what drives Puma’s growth. “Our whole approach to thinking about the culture around sports has allowed us to think meaningfully about the lifestyle and cultural background of the consumer. It’s the unique and refreshing point of view in the market that allows us to attract new customers.

Attracting new customers was one of the impacts of Puma’s New York Fashion Week show last September, according to Petrick, who said the experience was “a broad-based reintroduction” to the brand. Ambrose led the fashion show, called Futrograde, and showcased his “Keeping Score” collection, along with other activewear pieces.

Petrick explained that Puma will continue to appear in global fashion weeks in the future, with another big show planned for this fall during New York Fashion Week to celebrate the brand’s 75th anniversary.

Following January’s “Keeping Score” drop, Ambrose will launch the collection’s second drop in March. The upcoming collection will leverage Ambrose’s affinity for bold designs, while staying true to her design aesthetic, she said.

“I think in order to reinvent myself, I have to follow my AI — my authentic intelligence,” she said. “I know there was a bigger consumer here and a bigger reach. Now the second drop is a bit bolder and the color palette is very polarizing – it also speaks to that retro 90s energy with the silhouettes and color. [drop] is the appetizer, then there is more seasoning and flavor in the second drop.

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