In the 1960s, the world of athletic shoe materials was fairly limited, offering only two main choices: canvas or leather. However, a groundbreaking revolution came about with the introduction of the PUMA Suede. During that era, suede was primarily associated with opulent fabrics meant for evening wear and elegant handbags. Its reputation for being more challenging to clean compared to leather made it an unconventional choice for footwear. Nevertheless, Rudi Dassler held a distinctive perspective on this matter, and intriguingly, the delicate nature of suede would eventually become a hallmark of the shoe’s iconic status, as wearers took pride in maintaining their Suedes in impeccable condition.

Coincidentally, in that very year, during the Summer Olympics, Tommie Smith accomplished an unprecedented feat by being the first person to complete the 200-meter sprint in under 20 seconds while donning the PUMA Suedes. The significance of this moment was heightened during the medal ceremony when Tommie Smith, along with bronze medalist John Carlos, engaged in a powerful and memorable gesture, raising their right hands in what the athlete later described as a “human rights salute.” This act resonated far beyond the realm of sports, symbolizing the broader social and cultural changes of that turbulent era. The PUMA Suede not only made its mark in the world of athletic footwear but also became a symbol of cultural and political significance during a pivotal time in history.

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