Demy de Zeeuw’s transformation from professional footballer to entrepreneur continues to move from strength to strength alongside his football infused lifestyle brand BALR., which is enjoying its first mainstream collaboration, joining forces with PUMA for a unique capsule collection.

While BALR. is firmly rooted in lifestyle circles, its link to the footballing world is intrinsic to its very nature, and not just because de Zeeuw used to kick about for Ajax, Spartak Moscow, Anderlecht and the Holland national team. No, this is a brand that serves players away from the pitch, and the hook up with PUMA represents a big stride in their development. We therefore took the opportunity to sit down with Demy to catch his take on the collaboration and the BALR. brand itself.

To set the scene, can you tell us about the idea of BALR. and the journey you’ve been on for the last few years?

So, I started BALR. in 2013 and what I want to create is really a lifestyle brand that stands out off the pitch, so really an off the pitch brand. When a player goes to a restaurant or goes shopping then he needs to wear BALR. And that’s what we’ve tried to bring in. Content, a lot of content through this past year. Now we see with this collab with PUMA it’s the first time it’s been seen on a big stage and everyone can see that BALR. is really an off the pitch brand.

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It’s a brand that so many players have repped year on year. What do you think they have bought into about the brand?

Because all of the players wear it people recognise it as something from football – it comes from football. Of course I was a professional footballer and I think players like stuff like this: it’s black and it’s standing out as really good quality. The stuff they get on the pitch is really sports related and we are definitely more lifestyle, with metal plates and zippers and a little bit more luxury and the players like it. We get a lot of requests from big football players to send stuff, and they’re on big contracts with other brands, but now with PUMA we can finally reach the football players we want.

How would you describe the philosophy of the brand?

It’s really easy: everything I do – so when I was still playing – everything I do when I’d go on holiday, where I eat, where I go to the barber, everything fits the life of a baller. So it can be in Ibiza, we have a yacht, you can rent the yacht with your friends, we had cars, we had watches. Now we’re building apartments so you can really live in a BALR. apartment and hotel. So everything a football player does when he’s not on the pitch fit’s the life of a baller, and we try to capture those moments.

Having played the game at such a high level with so many great players, what was your take on football and fashion combining when you were still playing?

I was always busy with fashion. I think the most money I spent was on shoes and clothes, and I think all footballers are like that. Now it’s become even more like that, with social media they see other players wearing other nice stuff. This time is really crazy, with the types of outfits they are wearing and how much it’s worth. I think now, with social media, everyone’s into fashion.

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The two worlds have never collided as much as they are now. How much does this excite you?

It’s really exciting. What we really wanted with BALR. was to have a collab with a brand or a football club off the pitch and on the pitch, and with PUMA we have the boots and the lifestyle part and that really fits well and I’m really proud that after six years it’s finally happening.

Is BALR. a way of expressing your style, who you are, and ultimately your taste?

Yes, because we really think that everybody, when they’re young, when they’re kids and they’re just starting – me, I was young and I was dreaming of becoming world champion and I watched the documentary of Griezmann and he had the same dream to become champion. But I got told you’re too small, you’re not good enough etcetera etcetera, and still I was second, and he became world champion, so we did good. I think every young kid has a dream and there are a couple that will reach that dream, but I think everyone has to work towards their dream and you will go far and get a lot of nice things in your life.

You’ve wrapped a car in a BALR. makeover to launch this collaboration with PUMA. Does this personify the look and feel of the project with them?

Yes, because if you have a car worth €150,000 with a BALR. wrap and also the chairs are BALR. then it really represents who we are. Football players also buy a lot of cars, and this car is really standing out if you see the people on social media from when we drove here, people were taking notice, thinking woah, that’s a crazy car. It does’t say BALR. on the car, but everyone will recognise it as the car from BALR. because of the hexagon and the fact it’s black on black. 

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What can you tell us about the collaboration and the design of the boot? How involved were you in the process and what stamp did you want to put on it?

I was involved with every piece in the collection. For us, we love black. I love black. I’ve always had everything black. So when it came to the boots I said look, everyone has crazy colours. Now when you see Griezmann on the field with black boots, he stands out, and that was what we really wanted to show. Normally when a new boot comes you see that all the players wear an all-black boot because then the photographers can’t see or recognise the design, so we said OK, let’s make a really black boot, but the other parts must be silver, so it’s really luxury.

Can you see BALR. expanding more and more into the boot game, and what does the future of the brand look like?

No, we don’t want to make boots. We’re happy making boots as part of a collab like this and I think next year we’re talking with PUMA to make a season two, with a new boot, a new silhouette, but we’ll never make our own BALR. boots. It will always be with a collab. I think that this is a really good start for us to come more and more into the footballing world and to take over the luxury part of the football players’ lifestyle. I think PUMA have really helped us with that.

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How important is collaboration in football and where do you think it can take the lifestyle, cultural and fashion elements?

I think really far, because if you see now, for example Manchester City is dressed by Dsquared2 and they’re a lifestyle, off the pitch brand. I think that’s also something that BALR. will be in the future. It can be any club and I think that’s a real transformation, because before you saw all the players in a suit, and now you see them in jeans and crazy outfits that you can just wear on the streets.

Shop the full PUMA x BALR footwear & clothing collection at