“Everyone just loved the style; you could jazz it up with the laces, and no one else had the suede. Break dancers loved the shoe.”
-Walt “Clyde” Frazier in an interview with American Federation of Arts Curator Michelle Hargrave
In 1973, New York Knicks superstar Walt “Clyde” Frazier was looking for a pair of custom Puma Suede sneakers, and the brand decided to redesign the shoe for him. They stamped his nickname, Clyde (after the folk hero bandit made popular in the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde), on the shoe’s uppers, and they also made the design lighter and wider.
Frazier, a notoriously ostentatious dresser, made appearances throughout the 1970s wearing a mink coat, a suit, and sneakers,marking one of the first times sneakers were pictured with a suit. Just like its namesake, the Puma Clyde moved easily between the fashion and sports worlds, and the Clyde became a staple of New York street wear and an icon of urban culture. In his book Where’d You Get Those?, sneakerhead authority Bobbito Garcia describes the bravado that came with donning a pair of Clydes and how wearers of the classic shoe emanated the attitude, “I don’t own shit but I’m gonna own this sidewalk when I’m walking on it.”