More Beads For The Mid-Sole

Puma Hybrid Runner Unrest

By Shu Xie

Two days ago, Neighborhood’s designer Shinsuke Takizawa posted on IG photos of his brand’s upcoming collaboration with Adidas: the Kamanda kicks. It isn’t so much the branding emblazoned across the upper that caught my eye. Rather, it is the bumpy mid-sole of the shoe. The tyre-like bumps on it reminded me of the little pearls encased in the Puma Jamming with NRGY beads.

Puma, it seems, love beads or tiny globules that look like beads, so much so that it has re-introduced the NRGY beads in the two new silhouettes that were launched earlier this month: the Hybrid Runner Unrest (top) and the Hybrid Rocket NETFIT (below). But unlike those of the Jamming, these beads look less like Poh Chai Pills, and more like the pebbled reflexology foot path (seen from afar) in HDB parks. Or even puffed rice!

Puma Hybrid Rocket NETFIT Aug 2018

The things they do to mid-soles these days. Excluding air bags and whatever grid work out there, I can count the speckles, the dots, the camouflage motifs, the marbling, the graffiti, the LED lights. All these extraneous treatment seem to come into effect for one purpose: they’ll look better when the sneakers get their own selfies. The new NRGY beads-encrusted (“filled”, according to Puma) IGNITE foam tempts one to touch it, and are more tactile than the earlier iteration fishbowled in the Jamming.

I am not sure how effective these beads are in giving you extra thrust when you do the 100-metre dash, but they seem a little gaudy for any track. Regardless, I slipped into both the Hybrid Runner Unrest and the Hybrid Rocket NETFIT (actually a lacing system). The former triumphed: the lining under the knit upper allows the foot to slip into the shoe easily without snagging. This, however, was not a princess and the pea(s) moment as I did not feel the NRGY beads underfoot. Still, there’s no denying that the IGNITE foam allows walking, if not on something frothy, at least on something akin to a mattress. Isn’t that easy to love?

Puma Hybrid Runner Unrest, SGD 159, and Hybrid Rocket NETFIT, SGD 219, are available at Puma stores islandwide. Photos: Zhao Xiangji

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