Puma has announced that it has ditched kangaroo leather in the latest version of its classic King soccer boots. Yes, you read that correctly. Kangaroo leather. We’re not sure what to do with this information. Should we celebrate? Or should we be up in arms about the state of soccer boot production? Let’s start (as you always should) with the positives.
The iconic Puma King has been around since 1968. In the 70s, it became the footwear of choice for legend of the game, Pelé. In the modern age, Neymar Jr. picked up the kicks and ran with them. Evidently, they can’t be ignored. The King is a hugely influential and important shoe in the world of football.
The latest iteration moves things on in a big way. It’s vegan, made with K-Better, a new animal-free upper material. It’s made from 60 percent recycled nylon from post-industrial waste and is said to be better in touch, durability, and comfort in comparison to the kangaroo leather previously used. See… positives.
Getting into the nitty gritty, the King soccer cleat has a lightweight outsole with a “KING stability spine” and specially shaped studs to help players on the field. There’s also a removable sockliner with “NanoGrip” tech to keep your foot locked in when you’re making moves around the opposition.
Some lovers of the original Kings might be disappointed to learn that these vegan versions make a move away from the classic black and white look, instead opting for a mainly white colorway with a vivid highlight. TBH, we think they pop pretty nicely.
This is a step forward for Puma that should make a big difference. Kangaroo leather – or k-leather as it’s often referred to – is a devastating business to the Australian ecosystem. In a film released in 2021, it was revealed that more than 2 million kangaroos are shot and killed every year in order to manufacture leather for soccer boots. And it’s not just Puma that’s using k-leather: Nike and adidas’ soccer boots are also made with the material.
Why kangaroo? For soccer, it’s pitched as the perfect material. It can be cut super thin, which makes it light and practical for the playing field. And whilst that sounds great, there are plenty of other materials that can fit the bill in different ways.
“The Puma King is Puma’s most iconic franchise in football and has always stood for using the best materials and the latest in innovation,” said Peter Stappen, lead product line manager for TeamSport Footwear at Puma. “Over the years, we have seen the boot evolve and become ingrained in on- and off-pitch football culture, from the pitches to the terraces.”
Whilst this is true, any evolution from kangaroo leather is a step forward. If anything it highlights how far a brand like Puma has to go.
The new Puma King is available online now. For some more vegan kicks, check out these cactus-made sneaker from CLAE and Desserto.