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Puma Taps New Creative Partner and Showcases Black TikTok Designers

Long-time stylist to the stars June Ambrose has been tapped for a new role with German sportswear company Puma.

The designer, creative director and author has been announced as Puma’s latest collaborator. Taking on the role of creative partner, Ambrose will lean on her 25-year legacy in the business as she attempts to bring a fresh perspective to the company’s athletic apparel.

Introduced to the brand by former client Jay Z—who serves as creative director for Puma Hoops, the company’s basketball footwear line—Ambrose is slated to lend her expertise to a number of the brand’s collections throughout 2021. Her initial input will take place in collaborating with Jay Z on Puma Hoops products, as well as spearheading a Title Nine collection of footwear that celebrates women in sport.

Ambrose said her work on this line would “drive a dialogue” around equality in athletics. “To have the opportunity to do this by launching a collection for an underserved division, for women’s basketball, is incredible,” she said. “I want to create a space where young girls and women feel empowered on and off the court.”

According to Puma global director of brand marketing Adam Petrick, Ambrose’s place at the intersection of fashion, music, culture and purpose make her the optimal creative force to lead the Title Nine collection—and to lend a singular perspective to lines across the organization. “Having the opportunity to bring an individual with such talent into the world of sports is unique,” he said, “and we are excited to see how she can redefine what it means to create a sportswear collection.”

Ambrose is also eager to use her platform to promote social change, going beyond the creation of new product.

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“The connection between style and sport is timeless and it’s something I’ve always wanted to put my spin on,” she said. “Beyond the collections, it’s important to me that the collaboration is rooted in social impact, and Puma’s work in the social justice space to empower youth through sport makes them the perfect partner.”

Puma is also partnering with Gen Z sensation TikTok on the platform’s #TikTokFashionMonth, which will showcase the talents of five Black TikTok creators and designers. The chosen creatives will debut a limited collection live in an exclusive virtual fashion show, dubbed the TikTok Runway Odyssey, on Oct. 8.

The collection, which spans five pieces, will feature streetwear designed by the TikTok creators. Users Ajani, Dominic Toliver and Taylor Cassidy’s T-shirts will retail for $40-$45, while hoodies designed by Jufu and Makayla Did will go for $70.

Some of the pieces in the collection touch on timely social issues, while others rely on simple yet joyful slogans and imagery to pull shoppers out of their quarantine slump.

Influencer Cassidy drew inspiration from Black literary legend Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise” in the creation of her black, long-sleeve tee. The words “To Keep Rising” adorn the shirt’s sleeves, along with the abstracted image of a sunrise. Makalya Did’s black hoodie is an homage to the Black Lives Matter movement, featuring a sparkle motif and lotus flower design that represent the artist “blooming into adulthood.”

Meanwhile, multi-disciplinary artist Jufu’s “Just Vibin’” hoodie was created with the intent of bringing people together through the idea of “just flowing with life.” Dominic Toliver’s T-shirt features the influencer in cartoon form, highlighting his love of basketball and the beach, while Ajani showcased his family names, Huff and House, on a “HuffHouse” t-shirt.

The collection will be available for purchase through TikTok’s storefront, as well as on The collaborative effort, which the brands said represents the first of many to take place across categories over the course of 2021, will donate $10,000 in sales proceeds to the Equal Justice Initiative.