Puma's Retro Sneakers Lose Traction as Consumers Look to Runway

(Bloomberg) -- Puma SE is struggling to keep up with consumers turning away from minimalist retro sneakers in favor of chunkier styles influenced by the fashion runway.

While shoppers had been snapping up revived versions of classics like the German company’s Clyde and rival Adidas AG’s Stan Smith, driving the sports-shoe industry’s growth, they’ve begun to favor bulkier footwear inspired by luxury brands’ designs like Balenciaga’s $900 Triple S.

Puma's Retro Sneakers Lose Traction as Consumers Look to Runway

“The first six months of the year showed major shifts in product trends and consumer demand, especially for footwear,” Puma Chief Executive Officer Bjoern Gulden said.

Puma shares fell as much as 8.3 percent in early Frankfurt trading but regained some ground as the company said it’s rushing to adapt to the shift, capturing some of the new demand with models like the chunky Thunder. The change in tastes hands a challenge to Gulden as Puma sets out on its own after Gucci and Balenciaga owner Kering SA spun off the brand in May.

The German company had lifted its profit forecast four times since last year, riding demand for “athleisure” sports outfits worn away from gyms and tracks and the adoption of retro styles. The trend also benefited Adidas as it chased Nike Inc. and gained market share from brands more focused on performance-oriented apparel and shoes.

Adidas, which has been relying for years on the Stan Smith tennis shoe and the Superstar, a 1980s basketball design, said in May that it’s trying to broaden its range of franchises, not all of which are working equally well.

Puma's Retro Sneakers Lose Traction as Consumers Look to Runway

Now others are also pushing chunky models. Skechers USA Inc. last week singled out its D’Lites line as helping to feed “one of the hottest trends in footwear.” And not all brands are suffering. VF Corp. last week posted a 35 percent jump in sales of Vans sneakers in the quarter through June, with growth across all product families.

Puma said sales remain strong. The company raised its forecast for currency-neutral sales this year by 2 percentage points, to between 12 percent and 14 percent, but cautioned that it will require additional investments in marketing to hit its profit guidance.

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