Skip to main content
BoF Logo

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.

Puma Hires A$AP Rocky as Creative Director of Formula 1 Partnership

The acclaimed rapper and frequent fashion collaborator will design a capsule collection to be released at the Las Vegas Grand Prix in November. In future seasons, he will have wider creative control over the brand’s multi-year licensing deal with F1.
A$AP Rocky, Formula 1, Fashion, Puma, Mercedes, Red Bull, Max Verstappen
A$AP Rocky will release his first limited edition Puma and F1 apparel and accessories collection at the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix in late November. (Courtesy)

Fashion’s convergence with the world of sport continues.

This week, it comes in the form of A$AP Rocky’s appointment as creative director of Puma’s Formula 1 partnership. The German sportswear giant — which signed a landmark multi-year licensing deal to exclusively produce and sell F1 apparel, footwear and merch in May — tapped the standout American hip-hop-artist-turned-fashion tastemaker to expand its audience and capitalise on the growing intersection between streetwear and motorsports.

The first products of the partnership will come in the form of a limited edition Puma and F1 collection of accessories and apparel, set to be released at the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix in late November, according to Puma chief executive Arne Freundt. Teaser images show Rocky sporting a co-branded black tracksuit from the current Puma-F1 collection, as well as racing gloves and a pair of red, orange and white Puma “Inhale” sneakers.

“These are some key silhouettes I’ve been starting out with, trialling different designs and techniques,” Rocky told BoF. “I’m focussed on seamlessly blending in these classic streetwear looks without it feeling forced or tacky.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Next year, Rocky will design a series of capsule collections linked to high-profile F1 races throughout the 2024 season. He will also be tasked with hosting in-person activations at each of the races, as well as managing the marketing for each release.

By the 2025 season, Puma plans for Rocky to have wider creative control over the entire Puma-F1 partnership, providing creative input for the production of racewear, fanwear and more fashion-forward collections.

A$AP Rocky, Puma, Formula 1, F1
In A$AP Rocky, Puma will benefit from the association with one of fashion’s most coveted collaborators. (Courtesy)

“Rocky is, in my view, one of the greatest cultural forces of our time — his influence goes far beyond music,” said Freundt, emphasising Rocky’s track record of work in the motorsports world through his creative agency AGWE, which includes an apparel collaboration with Mercedes-Benz in March last year.

Puma will benefit from the association with one of fashion’s most coveted collaborators at the height of his cultural relevance. In 2016, he was tapped as the face of Dior’s menswear business and has since released co-designed collaborations with the likes of JW Anderson and Guess Originals. More recently, he has generated a new wave of attention from being in a relationship with Rihanna; the pair appeared on the cover of British Vogue’s March 2023 issue.

Rocky is currently putting the finishing touches to the partnership’s first campaign, which explores American automotive culture and its intersection with streetwear, and will launch ahead of the Las Vegas race, he said.

His appointment comes as the once-niche sport booms in popularity worldwide, turbocharged in recent years by documentaries such as “Drive to Survive,” a Netflix series that gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at the life of drivers and team principals. The star power of Lewis Hamilton — along with the rise of newer drivers including Pierre Gasly and China’s Zhou Guanyu — has also helped attract a younger, more diverse fanbase to the sport.

“I’m just really glad that what was once a really traditional, conservative industry is ready to open up and explore new things, especially when it comes to fashion,” Rocky said.

F1 races have now become a marketing goldmine for fashion brands. While Puma won the race to secure the licensing deal for official F1 apparel and merch, many other brands have piled into the sport through team sponsorship. LVMH-owned Tag Heuer has a partnership with the championship-winning Red Bull F1 team, while Boss provides performance clothing and casualwear for the drivers and support staff of the Aston Martin F1 team. Meanwhile, Berluti is the official formalwear partner of the Alpine F1 team.

ADVERTISEMENT

Race weekends are packed full of A-list celebrities: Michelle Obama and Michael Jordan were special guests at the Miami Grand Prix in May, while Shakira was spotted at July’s British Grand Prix along with Brad Pitt and British actor Damson Idris.

November’s inaugural Las Vegas race — part of which will take place along the city’s famous boulevard — is set to be F1′s largest pop culture showcase to date.

“It’s going to be like the Super Bowl on wheels,” Freundt said.

F1 is an important category for Puma, which generates a bulk of its revenue from producing performance apparel for niche but growing global sports, including motorsports and cricket, underserved by its larger competitors Nike and Adidas. While it doesn’t break out sales for its motorsport category, Puma reported €33.8 million ($35.8 million) in royalty and commission income last year, an increase of 41.6 percent compared to 2021. The company attributed the gain to “good business development in the motorsport division, after Formula 1 fans returned to racetracks this year,” it said in its annual report.

In September, Puma announced a partnership with British rapper Skepta to create “Futuro,” a co-designed line of sneakers and apparel. Earlier this year, the company said it has brought back its collaboration with Rihanna’s Fenty label.

“We’re very serious about elevating our brand, and these three partners are very strong testimonials of our ambition,” Freundt said. “It’s all about pushing the boundaries of sport through a fashion lens.”


Further Reading

How Fashion Entered the Formula One Race

A new owner, media-friendly strategy and an upcoming Brad Pitt film have helped catapult Formula One into the cultural spotlight. For brands, there are untapped opportunities in the sport – “like a Super Bowl every weekend”.

Inside the Big Business of Styling Athletes

NBA stars and footballers are increasingly leaning on a network of powerful style consultants to help them shape their personal brands away from their day jobs, laying the groundwork for lucrative brand deals.

About the author
Daniel-Yaw  Miller
Daniel-Yaw Miller

Daniel-Yaw Miller is Senior Editorial Associate at The Business of Fashion. He is based in London and covers menswear, streetwear and sport.

In This Article

© 2024 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions

More from Retail
Analysis and advice from the front lines of the retail transformation.

Promising Signs for Macy’s Turnaround

Sales fell in the retailer’s first quarter, but were up at 50 stores where new ideas are being tested. CEO Tony Spring tells BoF he’s just getting started.


How Creative Direction at Pandora Is Evolving

Central to global jewellery brand Pandora’s growth strategy is a creative process that leverages customer behaviour and more sustainable innovation. BoF hears from creative directors Francesco Terzo and A. Filippo Ficarelli to understand their ambitions.


view more

Subscribe to the BoF Daily Digest

The essential daily round-up of fashion news, analysis, and breaking news alerts.

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
CONNECT WITH US ON
The Business of Beauty Global Forum
© 2024 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy and Accessibility Statement.
The Business of Beauty Global Forum