(Lead image via Jabari Jacobs)
Whether balling out in the Celebrity All-Star Games or sporting PUMA on the regular, Cordae‘s relationship with PUMA is not only high level but next level.
“I gotta represent PUMA — it’s bigger than me,” Cordae said. “I gotta represent the brand well.”
The artist is set to launch his inaugural collaboration with the global brand with an RS-X, Suede, and a range of apparel dubbed the “HiLevel” collection.
Ahead of its February 23 release, we spoke to the man himself about the design process, his full-circle moment with the brand, and more.
Learn more about Cordae and his “HiLevel” PUMA collab below.
Nice Kicks: Did PUMA’s past work with artists help your decision in signing with them?
Cordae: That wasn’t a focal point whereas Rihanna’s with PUMA, I wanna be with PUMA; Jay-Z’s with PUMA, I wanna be with PUMA. It happened organically.
They started off with one of my music videos and they [were] just sending me gear. I really enjoyed the gear.
In middle school, the public school I went to in PG County, we had to wear uniforms. It was a white shirt, khaki pants, and all-black sneakers, so I always rocked the PUMA suedes. It’s been a full-circle moment.
I like things to be organic and natural. All the extracurricular stuff they do for communities across the globe is tight.
Even though they work with amazing artists, it wasn’t based on past work with artists but on how our relationship has been — a collaborative, cooperative thing.
They gave me a lot of creative control and let me bring some of my friends, it turned out dope.
NK: What led you to the decision on the colors and materials of your RS-X and Suede?
Cordae: I wanted an all-black shoe. They go with everything. I realized PUMA didn’t have a solid all-black shoe.
NK: Was it your idea to have a collab with PUMA early on ever since you signed with the brand in 2018?
Cordae: It was an idea of mine that I wanted to do something collaborative from the very beginning, but it had to make sense for everybody, for the PUMA team — especially when you’re dealing with a big brand like PUMA, with their factories and warehouses.
There are a lot of moving parts.
NK: What’s been your favorite part about the collaborative design process?
Cordae: The little nooks and crannies. Do we want 3M right here? What kind of fabric do we want for this part of the shoe? What about this versus this? The box design. The small things that go a long way are the things I love.
I’m meticulous about everything. Anything that has my name and HiLevel attached, I want HiLevel. I can’t have a brand named HiLevel and have mid some mid sneakers, it’s not good.
PUMA also has great creatives. They gave us and my internal team a lot of background information, schematics, and things of that nature and the business side of sneakers. That was important and crucial.
NK: Which shoes are you going to bring out for the All-Star Celebrity Game?
Cordae: I might throw on the PUMA Balmains or the LaMelo’s The [Balmains] are hard. I love LaMelo’s.
I’ve been balling in them almost every day for the last month. I got the “Jades” on right now. They’re hard.
NK: How many pairs of your upcoming collab would equal an 05 Honda?
Cordae: That’s about 35 pairs equal to a Honda.
The Cordae x PUMA “HiLevel” collection releases on February 23, 2023, with the RS-X and Suede available at both PUMA.com and Foot Locker. The “HiLevel” apparel will be available exclusively at Foot Locker.
Take a detailed look at the Cordae x PUMA “HiLevel” collection below, and keep it locked to Nice Kicks on Instagram and the sneaker release dates page for the latest news and drops.