Those with an appreciation for vintage sports will love the new collection from global sports brand PUMA and Australian skate label Butter Goods. The sportswear designs are heavily influenced by the late ‘90s and early 2000s nostalgia (think bold colours, baggy cuts and technical fabrics and finishes), yet still look fresh and contemporary today.
In this interview, Butter Goods co-founders Garth Mariano and Matt Evans talk about why this collaboration with PUMA made sense. They also dive into the design process and also the finished product, which includes the Slipstream (one of PUMA’s most iconic basketball silhouettes from the ‘80s). Scroll down to read:
How did Butter Goods get started?
We had always messed with the idea of starting a brand from a young age. We used to hand screen print our own tees, and Matt actually made boards with his uncle in high school. So, we were always into the idea of creating something of our own.
I think we eventually just got a little bit older and started to realise a lot of the Australian skate brands that we had grown up obsessing over were no longer around. That was one of the things that sparked us to want to do something ourselves. I just went out and got some tees made one day with no brand or larger idea in mind. When I showed Matt, we both thought it was time we finally gave it a proper shot. We’ve been going ever since then!
How has skateboarding culture evolved over the years?
In some ways, it’s changed so much. In others, like most things, it’s very cyclical. Skateboarding is definitely harping the golden era that Matt and I grew up in at the moment. I think the biggest change is the way skateboarding content (videos / photos) is consumed. Gone is the era of waiting months for latest 411vm to drop and sharing VHS tapes around with your friends. There was something special about having less, so what you did have was so much more influential and obsessed over. With the internet and things like Instagram now, there’s almost too much content, and things rarely see the same shelf life. Everything just moves way quicker, for better or worse.
The irony is, I don’t think a brand like ours could exist on a global scale without those things. But it’s nice to know how skateboarding was both pre and post internet. The pre-internet world really influences how we design and we now get to use all the advantages of distribution and communication of a post-internet world.
What is the importance of community to Butter Goods, and how has that effected the brand over the years?
Skateboarding is like one big community. Opportunities, team, trips, all these things expand naturally through connections in skating.
How is your shared love of jazz and ‘90s hip hop reflected in the clothing and design?
I try not to limit ourselves to any particular genres. Just good music in general. But I do find myself coming back to the jazz side of things. To me it just pairs so well with skateboarding. Both sonically and graphically. It’s also just a chance for us to celebrate artists that maybe some of our audience haven’t heard of before.
What made you decide to work with PUMA for this collaboration?
Whenever we look at collaborations, we try to look at it as, “would we make these things without this collaboration?” If the answer is, yes, then it’s probably not the right move. I think collaboration for collaboration’s sake is pretty tired. When the opportunity to work with PUMA came about, we were so excited to work with a brand with such a rich history and deep archives. To me, the most exciting thing about the design process is the discovery for us both as the people designing but also in the finished product for customers.
How was the Butter Goods design aesthetic merged with the PUMA brand?
Our designs and skateboarding in general are heavily influenced by ’90s sportswear. So stylistically it was pretty easy to link up. As PUMA doesn’t have a skate program, it was fun to go in there and reinterpret things through that lens.
What pieces from PUMA’s archives were you most drawn to and eager to create with? And why?
The Suede! It’s just so iconic. In a weird way, it almost feels like a trophy to be able to put our twist on such an iconic shoe. Since ours was made from corduroy, it couldn’t be labeled as a “Suede,” but it’s the same silhouette.
The collaboration is steeped in nostalgia, taking inspiration from sports advertising in the late ‘90s and early 2000’s. Can you tell us more about the design process and inspiration behind the co-branded collection?
As I touched on a bit above, our design direction is heavily influenced by the era we grew up skating in. The late ‘90s / early 2000s was full of bold colours, baggy cuts and technical fabrics and finishings. We try not to be too derivative of any era, otherwise it can look a bit like cosplay (laughs). So, we still try to mix that influence with some toned back, classic stylings too.
The process was fun. It was during Covid, so a lot of video calls and emails back and forth. We just dug deep into PUMA’s archives, looked through tons of old catalogues and trawled online for vintage gold. After a few weeks of research, we were pretty well armed to start designing. The hardest thing was narrowing down the focus. There was so much we could have done and so many different directions we’d love to explore.
Describe the person that this collection was designed for.
Us! (Laughs). Selfishly or not, we generally design with ourselves / friends in mind.
Tell us about a key look or favourite piece that embodies the collection.
I think my favourite piece is the white Slipstream. I love all white shoes and the shape came out great.
How would you describe the collection in three words?
Nineteen Ninety Nine.