Every few years, the world of running shoes undergoes shifts in philosophy. We’ve seen minimalism, maximumism, mechanical cushioning, overbuilt stability systems – the list goes on and on. The best of these philosophies prove their effectiveness over time, and many come back into favor sooner or later. When they do, it’s the responsibility of the sneaker companies to step their games up and deliver a better version of the last time that ideology in running was popular. With PUMA’s new Faas (meaning “fast” in Jamaican slang) line, they’ve done just that with today’s emerging natural running trend. Think of it as high-tech minimalism. Also, it wouldn’t be a PUMA if fashion didn’t play some part in the line. These kicks may have been built with performance runners in mind, but the shoes’ light weight, comfort and ability to take on color makes them lifestyle-friendly as well.
PUMA has a rich history in track and field, which provided an ideal starting point for the inspiration behind the Faas design language. With light weight now a staple focus of mainstream footwear, PUMA pulled details such as the perforated uppers from their classic spikes, but modernized them with technical, engineered materials and constructions. They also developed their own proprietary EVA compound, known as Bioride. Neutral shoes are becoming more and more popular with runners, and this foam-based construction also offers another opportunity to cut weight.
Further characterizing the Faas line are three elements, found in varying degrees in each model, known as Rocker, Flex and Groove. Rocker refers to the contour of the tooling. Toe spring built into the forefoot, combined with the curvature of the heel, provide for a smooth touchdown, transition and toe-off. Flex is showcased through the grooves built into the outsole, as well as the notches where the midsole meets the upper. These were targeted to allow for a more natural foot movement with less restriction. As for the Groove, that refers to the release point built into the midsole. When the foot strikes down, it is able to absorb energy in the lateral side and provide a support-like element without adding any additional bracing to the shoe.
The line is broken down on a 1-1000 scale, with the lower the model number, the more minimal and natural feeling the shoe. Here’s how each model breaks down.
The Faas 250
Retailing for $85, the Faas 250 is currently the most minimal shoe in the line. Its upper features an open-air mesh with zero backing, so it relies only on targeted underlays to provide support. Similar to the 300, it has no heel counter, but its low profile and materials make for an even more flexible shoe. With appeal to both serious runners, as well as those just looking for a comfortable, but stylish shoe, the Faas line has a little something for everyone.
The Faas 300
The Faas 300, which retails for $85, can be thought of as the base model of the initial launch. While it shares a tooling with the 250, which was originally used on a road-racing shoe, the 300’s upper is a bit more built up. It uses a more closed mesh, which, along with overlays, adds to its colorblocking and lifestyle appeal. Even though it may appeal to non-runners, the performance benefits are all there. Between the high-tech materials and the shoe’s weightreducing lack of a heel counter, it’s a technical runner through and through.
The Faas 500
The higher the number, the more substantial the shoe. The $100 Faas 500 features a wider last, along with more medial and lateral flare. It also features more support in the upper. Rocker, Flex and Groove are seen to their greatest extent here as well. The Groove travels the full length of the midsole’s lateral side, while notches in the forefoot to target the Flex where it’s most needed.
Available now: PUMA Faas Collection