BY THE VILLAGE SUN | It’s shmear genuis.
Putting a tasty spin on sneaker culture, two Lower East Side cultural touchstones have stepped up to celebrate the iconic Clyde Puma low-top — one of the first athletic shoes featuring a pro player’s signature.
Extra Butter, a sneaker boutique and lifestyle brand, and Russ & Daughters, the legendary appetizing store, are paying homage to the Clyde, named after legenday Knicks guard Walt Frazier, on the shoe’s 50th anniversary, with a specially designed version.
With the Puma classic “formstrip” (which was originally designed as a sneaker stabilizer) and other details in aqua, the special shoe features a leaping herring at the top of the tongue, the year 1914 on the left heel, faux fish-scale leather on both heel counters and a “RUSS & DAUGHTERS” stamp on the side toward the heel of both the left and the right shoe. The pattern of the shoes’ interior is based on Russ & Daughters’ original signage. To top it all off, the custom kicks come in a 1973-style Puma box.
The launch of the sneaker mash-up will kick off with a private community event on the Lower East Side on Thurs., Feb. 16. Limited to “friends and family,” the event will see just 73 pairs of the customized shoe released, in honor of the original Clydes release in 1973.
Back in the ’70s, basketball’s Walt “Clyde” Frazier made a name for himself on and off the court with his bold moves and colorful style. In 1973 when Frazier asked for a custom-made pair of “Suedes,” Puma reconfigured the model’s original silhouette, made it lighter and wider, stamped his moniker on the side — and the Puma Clyde was born.
There were, in fact, a few other popular “signature” sneakers that predate the Clyde, including the PF Flyers Bob Cousy All-American in 1958 and the Adidas Jabbar in 1971, named for the sky-hooking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“Growing up in NewYork, especially as a B-boy, the Clyde is an icon,” said Bernie Gross, the creative director of Extra Butter. “It’s a simple, timeless classic and has served as a great canvas for designers to implement various aesthetics, trends and perspectives that can speak to a global audience for the past five decades. It’s a must-have for any sneaker enthusiast.”
Extra Butter opened on Orchard Street in 2007. Russ & Daughters has been around in since 1914, a family-owned institution on the Lower East Side, purveying smoked fish, knishes, caviar and bagels. Fourth generation co-owners Niki Russ Federman and Josh Russ Tupper opened Russ & Daughters Cafe, also in 2007, an “elevated dine-in experience” on Orchard Street, around the corner from the flagship East Houston Street location, becoming neighbors to Extra Butter.
Extra Butter has also collaborated with Dickies to produce “Orchard OG’s” classic workwear that features Russ & Daughters iconography on embroidery, patchwork and chain stitching to match the Clyde sneakers’ look and feel.
In related news, West Siders will soon have a Russ & Daughters of their own. This spring the company will be opening a new store at W. 34th Street and 10th Avenue, just a few blocks from Madison Square Garden, where Frazier once made magic happen on the basketball court.