There’s an APB out right now on a pair of Puma Clydes. Those who walk the route of Houston St., towards Wooster St., on the street side opposite of the Angelika Film Center notice something different everyday, whether it’s a new stickers on the newspaper boxes, or this giant Missing Sneaker sign that appeared today. The missing sole is a pair of Yo! MTV Raps Puma Clydes. It was a limited edition sneaker in 2006 that Puma created to mark the 20th anniversary of Yo! MTV Raps. There were two colorways: purple/black/white, and black/lime-green/white; limited to 48 pairs per colorway. As far as hip-hop inspired sneakers go, these have all the nostalgia of the Roc-A-Fella Air Force 1’s or the Air Yeezy because they have their own mythology behind them.
When Puma released the Yo! MTV Raps shoe, it was an event for them. There they were in ’06: number 4 or so behind the big three footwear companies—Nike, adidas, Reebok. They made better sneakers for performance on the soccer pitch than they did in the general lifestyle market. Who in their right mind was really checking for Puma sneakers back then, when Nike Dunks were omnipresent on the feet of anyone between NY and LA? If you grew up on rap like us, then you should know that Puma was a staple shoe of hip-hop kids—important as shell-toe adidas, or said Nike Dunks. Puma forgot how important it was to hip-hop, punk rock, and skate culture; how it created a silhouette for b-boys and b-girls; how they could be seen in portraits of New Yorkers shot by the likes of Jamel Shabazz or Martha Cooper. Puma finally took things back (in time and their place in the sneaker game) resurrecting the Puma Clyde from 1973. New York Knicks hall-of-famer, Walt “Clyde” Frazier introduced it as his signature shoe, styling it on the court. Off the court though, he wore hard bottoms. Still, being the fashionable guy he was—and still is to this day (TIGER SUIT!!!)—people who wore the sneaker were aligning themselves with the new face of a brand that would merge style and sport in the sole of a pair of Clydes.
In 1988, MTV created Yo! MTV Raps. It was more than a program, it was their first outlet dedicated exclusively to showing new videos, and giving rappers a forum to rap, be interviewed by hosts Dr. Dre and Ed Lover, and Fab 5 Freddy. It wasn’t like any of the hosts were die-hard Puma heads. Any of the dominant streetwear brands of that era (Cross Colours, Marithé + François Girbaud, Supreme) could be seen on the guests. Supreme knew what was up when they made their own T-Shirt honoring the legacy of the show created by the late-great producer/director, Ted Demme. So when Puma licensed the Yo! MTV Raps logo (originally created by REVOLT, credited as Dr. Revolt on the show) for the 20th anniversary, it shook up the sneaker game. The Clydes were back! 2006 was no different from 2012 with the amount of resurgence of iconic hip-hop trends. All those kids running around with neon-colored sneakers, with gold chains, and hi-top fades are still around today. Hate them for riding the coattails of the past they had no part of, or love them for honoring it, kids ate up this wearable piece of history, wrapped up in rubber and suede.
Given the nature of hip-hop in New York right now, seeing the image of the Yo! x Puma sneaker should make you stop and think for a second. It’s representing the renaissance of hip-hop in the ’90s. Given VH1’s recent tribute to Yo!, on its 25th anniversary seeing a Missing Sign for these Clydes should throw sneakerheads into a frenzy, again. Sadly, that’s not exactly the case. Hypelicious, the website probably responsible for the street posting doesn’t have any information about it. All they’re offering is a size 8, for 350 euros (about $450). It’s still a lot of dough for some Clydes, but their value has dipped dramatically according Flight Club’s graph, showing the decline from an average price of $800 in 2007, to $350 around 2010.
Is someone trying to stir the pot again for Puma? All Points Bulletins for sneakers go as far back as 2003 when Nike and streetwear brand Orchard Street partnered for a limited release of Dunks. Two colorways were being sold at select boutiques, going for about $500 and up. Forget whatever eBay was charging. The only way you were gonna get your hands on them outside of breaking the bank was to climb a telephone pole and cut them down from the wires they were strategically hung from around New York City. It was real. Some people claimed to have actually cut down a pair from their hood. Others just had to stop and marvel at the marketing stunt. Wanted Signs were sniped throughout the Lower East Side, where sneakerheads were on the hunt for the OS Dunks. Even the signs were a prized item. So if you see these Puma posters, you might wanna take ‘em for yourself, and call it a day.