PUMA’s sneaker expert on what to expect in 2020

Words: Nhlanhla Masemola | Images: Supplied

Sneaker culture was once a niche world enjoyed by a select few: hip-hop enthusiasts and thriving athletes. Today, it’s a global phenomenon and everyone’s invited, but that’s not to say that the community takes itself any less seriously. Keep abreast with the sneaker world and you’ll see its undeniable influence in everything from pop culture to fashion in big and small ways. Want in? Sole Predictions is where it’s at, featuring the top experts and collectors in the sneaker industry. Here they’ll share the styles they’re loving, all the names to know and their sneaker predictions for 2020 and beyond. Meet Hayden Manuel, PUMA’s sportstyle marketing manager and sneaker connoisseur.


What is your opinion on the state of sneaker culture?

It’s kind of boring right now. Nobody is bringing any flavour, in my opinion. Everybody seems to be wearing the same thing.

And what about the nature of hype?

I think hype is generally dead, bar a few releases. I respect individual taste over wearing things to fit in. You can’t buy cool, you either have it or you don’t.

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The fashion industry is at a crossroads between streetwear, sneaker culture and luxury fashion. Do you think these spheres will always be merged?

It’s at the point of no return now. The associations might become looser and not as obvious in the future, but the DNA will be forever intertwined. If you’ve been in the game long enough, you know these worlds have been subconsciously inspiring each other for the past 20 years, so it’s not going anywhere.

What sneaker do you own that you’re loving at the moment?


And what do you look for in a sneaker? How many pairs do you own?

I stopped counting in 2009. Probably 300+. I don’t have anything specific I look for, but whatever it is it has to be made from quality materials.

What do you think makes a classic sneaker a classic?

The streets make things classic.

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What sneaker collaborations do you see happening in the future? Anyone you want to see collaborating? With which brand?

I want Rick Owens to work with PUMA.

What do you think sneakers will look like for the rest of the year?

I think we’re moving off the chunky silhouettes and coming back to low-profile styles.

How do you think sustainability will impact current and future sneakers?

It’s a big deal. All the big brands have or are in the process of releasing ranges that focus on this. It’s not just a fad anymore.

What’s one thing you think people get wrong about sneakers?

People tend to overthink it. I always say “f*ck hype, wear what you like.”