PUMA California shoe

more than a stylish silhouette

The story behind the California Style

The PUMA California was one the most beloved silhouettes in the 1980s that returned as a sport-turned-classic. The PUMA California rose to fame on the courts but soon crossed-over cultures and quickly became a streetstyle staple. The famed court OG’s low-key style with metallic and leather details and a versatile chunky sole has rocked fashion trends for decades.
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 California from 1981

PUMA’s sport shoe catalog from 1981lists it as:

"Universal training shoe for indoor and outdoor use made of air-permeable net nylon material. Perforated forepartmade out of 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 from 1981

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”:


Explanation of the California technique from the 80's catalogue

The anatomical footbed

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

Explanation of the California technique from the 80's catalogue

The outer joint support

Individual support under extreme loads

Explanation of the California technique from the 80's catalogue

The combination sole

Two degrees of hardness are better than one

Explanation of the California technique from the 80's catalogue

The Shaft

Breathable mesh nylon, the "air conditioning" in California

Explanation of the California technique from the 80's catalogue

The front part

More comfort, more protection, more quality because genuine nubuck

In 2018, PUMA launched a reimagined silhouette of the OG California to create the Cali. While this version of the California may not use the spraying machine from the1980s anymore, it clearly got its design inspiration from the 1981 silhouette. It was designed to play on the popular white court shoe trend while adding a younger, fresher aesthetic to the PUMA women's line.

Since it’s relaunch in 2018, the Cali style has again become extremely popular and available in a wide range of colors and developing range of styles like the Cali Wedge, CaliSport, and Cali Star. This classic style will continue to be in the PUMA family, evolving to keep up with the latest trends of today.