more than a stylish silhouette

The story behind the California Style

The PUMA California was one the most beloved silhouettes in the 1980s, that now returned as a sport-turned-classic.But did you know that there is much more behind the California than its timeless, classic design? The secret lies in the sole and in the way the shoe is made…

PUMA’s sport shoe catalog from 1981 states:
“Universal training shoe for indoor and outdoor use made of air-permeable net nylon material. Perforated forepart made out out nubuck. Flexible California-Technique.“

"California actually refers to The California Technique, which is a specific way of making shoes. The whole shoe consists of only two parts, the upper part and the sole, which is splashed on to the upper part," explains Mr. PUMA, Helmut Fischer.

PUMA California


How women invented the California Technique in the 19th century

The origins of the California style date back to the American Civil War. Women from the West of the United States, whose men were at war could not handle the heavy machinery and did not have the power that was necessary to put all the different parts of a shoe together. So, they developed a style that could be accomplished with a simple quilting machine.

More than a hundred years later, slightly improved and ready for the big business, the style was adapted by the shoe industry. PUMA purchased a spraying machine to produce California styled shoes in series.

The California became a piece of sport shoe history. The special thing about it, apart from that it only consisted of two parts, was the sole itself. It contained two degrees of hardness with the part that hits the ground first being softer than the rest.

But that was not the only advantage. In their 1983 product catalogue, PUMA published an issue about the California giving

“5 good reasons why PUMA sells tremendous quality with the CALIFORNIA”:


The combination sole

Two degrees of hardness are better than one.

The front part

More comfort, more protection, more quality because genuine nubuck.

The anatomical footbed

Perfectly adapted to the foot. It prevents the dreaded "slipping forward" of the foot in the shoe.

The outer joint support

Individual support under extreme loads

The Shaft

Breathable mesh nylon, the "air conditioning" in CALIFORNIA.

For the 2018 version of the California, PUMA may not use the spraying machine from the 80s anymore, but it obviously got its design inspiration from the 1981 silhouette still looking fresh.