By inviting Colm Dillane, the founder of KidSuper to collaborate, PUMA have beautifully brought on and off pitch world's of football and fashion together. A wild play on the party of football, the collection has been met with resounding acclaim. We spoke to the man behind the brand to get an insight into the journey from idea to reality and got Bristol City's Han-Noah Massengo to model it for us too.

Looks like you’ve single handedly started a campaign to bring back Celebrity Deathmatch…

Yes! I’m glad that’s where we’re starting the interview and it’s great that you noticed. I thought that would be hilarious. I’ve had no response on that yet. I’m wondering how far I should take it.

It kind of personifies your brand. Once we see you put something out, you just want more and more. Similar to this Puma collaboration, once you see it, you just want more. It’s appealing to people who have no interest in the game too…

I think that since I started making things and working on my brand, with every inch someone gave me, I would run with that and do the most I could with it. My play with the Soccer collection, firstly as a massive football fan, I knew that KidSuper as a brand seemed unorthodox and wasn’t particularly safe for a big brand to do. There’s also a million other brands that Puma could have collaborated with. KidSuper doesn’t drop consistently like other brands do with the seasons, we do things our own way. For example, we’ll spend a whole month making a film one month rather than making any clothing and we’re a little more spontaneous. So there was a little bit of risk for PUMA but I think the thing that convinced them was the genuine love for the game.

I said to them, “Look, there’s no one in America really taking over the streetwear meets soccer space. There’s no one that has the same story that I do with soccer.” For me, it was also about the heritage PUMA has. Neymar and the King is back now but I don’t think PUMA have gone as hard as they could have in the past in showcasing how legendary the players they have in their legacy story. Like we will never forget that Michael Jordan is Nike. Puma has had three Michael Jordan’s in Pele, Maradona and Cruyff. My whole thing was “how do we bring this through”. Then I said, “we’re doing a soccer collaboration then we need a cleat”. So there was a lot of being given an inch and taking a yard. 

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Given you are the brains and in control of what the KidSuper output is, do you feel that you have the power to be nimble and ultimately lend that flexibility to a brand like Puma for this collaboration?

I even think that when I’m collaborating with Puma, you soon learn that smaller brands can be a lot more adaptive to things than big brands can. They’re big machines that take time to turn. For me, I wanted to make those dolls to launch the collection - for me, I can find suppliers and people to help me make them easily. If I did that through a big brand, it would take months and have to go through all kinds of processes. For me I can do it in a week. That’s the strength of small brands. That nimbleness is a real power. I always say that to younger, smaller brands who worry about competing with bigger brands. Smaller brands can think of an idea and release it the next day. The world is changing and everything is going virtual now. Big brands need to adapt.

Right at the start, where did it come from and how much have you been desperate to bring your ideas into the football space?

Always. Since day one. I’m still thinking, always thinking - how do I get an MLS team? How do we follow the Red Bull Route? How do we get an MLS team? How do we make our own cleat? I still can’t believe that PUMA gave us a King to create of our own. I’m still a little bit shocked in a great way. When you think there’s been Pele, Maradona, Neymar and now KidSuper. That status is crazy. I mean football runs through all we do. For example, the goalkeeper I played with in college is now the coder here. I have a little KidSuper soccer team, the right back from there helps out with some stuff - all of the squad is from my soccer team. I was always moving as a kid to different teams and soccer one that one consistent thing that stayed with me throughout. I always hammered it in. You’ve just got to see on my instagram, I’m always chucking in a shot of me with a ball, juggling or kicking it about. When I was younger it wasn’t that I was so interested in fashion, I just created my own way. I was always interested and good at drawing and at painting and I gravitated towards the fashion side of the game naturally. The way I approach fashion is that it’s more of a medium for me to be creative. Within that, I’m not so obsessed with the fashion rules. I do my own thing. That’s kind of how I play soccer too. I’m very free-spirited and creative in the way I play.

You could say the “jack of all trades” taboo is almost dead now in the creative scene... It’s good for people to try all kinds of things isn’t it…

It’s an interesting though. It’s sometimes good and sometimes bad. You get a lot of people who dabble and say they’re good at loads of things but they never really execute an idea. I always feel weird when people say “oh you do some many things and they’re all so good”... I want people to know that I didn’t just casually play soccer and I didn’t just casually draw - it was very much my whole life. I feel like a lot of people in the world now are able to do many things rather than getting very good at one thing. It is what you make of it - there’s no rules but you need to put you’re all into the things you do. I think also that people just waste time. KidSuper is all about trying your hardest at everything and giving it all your best shot.

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Football is full of a lot of content and this completely busts the game open - how much did you see this as a chance to break ground in football?

Yeah I mean, I’m waiting for PUMA to ask me to design a third kit or something. One of our proposals was to do Palmeiras third kit. I think that’s what they should do for third shirts. Getting different brands involved, different creatives for away and third kits - Collaborating with something or someone that is meaningful. Remember the mexican league jersey’s - the goalkeeper shirts were always the wildest. There’s always been space to be creative in football. The funny thing is now that footballers all seem to have the same instagram pages. It’s just “great game today”, it confuses me - I’m always thinking “who is running these and why don’t they have personality?”. The people who show that personality are always more successful so I don’t understand why there’s so much dry content out there. Zlatan for example - his whole persona has made him an even better player. Hector Bellerin is a great example of someone stepping outside of what you think a footballer should be. I think this is the way it should change for the better.

There’s so much detail from the Pele sketches to the embroidered dove - what was the process like of finding all these gems?

When I presented the collection to Puma, I put as much Pele and Maradona stuff in there as possible. The fact that these were once Puma athletes, I felt we needed to celebrate that. The drawings are iconic soccer moments that only people will know if they know. They bicycle kick or hand of god - all those things - they’re elements that carry over from the KidSuper aesthetic. We often have drawings and doodles in our designs. Not only are the pieces we’ve created aesthetically pleasing but there’s details in there for soccer fans to really appreciate. It was made for and made by a soccer fan in me.

The process with Puma - creating a real boot - do you think they almost didn’t expect you to bring so much good to the table? Like they may have thought this brand will do incredible things but this is a whole different level…

I feel like they didn’t know what they were giving me [laughs]. I kept mentioning the boot all the time. I didn’t think they would say yes to us doing one. When they said yes, it was so nonchalant. It didn’t feel like there were loads of hurdles to overcome. When it happened I was just like, “really? This is insane”. I don’t know if they realised how much something like that would mean to me. Nor did they realise how much a PUMA King means to me specifically. For me, it’s such a special and iconic boot. I’m not sure if everyone at PUMA knew just how significant that boot was for me. I remember leaving the meeting and being like “holy shit, they’re letting me design a Puma King”. They were then like, “you should work with Hector Bellerin on this”, it was just a dream of all these things coming together. I can’t stress enough how much the PUMA collaboration was a real bucket list of goals. Now Hector Bellerin has even worn the boot in a game. It’s crazy. So crazy.

How much of a landmark moment is this release for you as a brand - how high does this rank of everything you’ve put out there?

It came sooner that I thought it would. I’ve done a lot of things but I can’t say I was expecting this. I was always shooting for this level but it seemed far away. I’m so glad it’s happened and the way it has happened.

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What was it like bringing Bellerin into the mix for this?

So me and Hector had been DM friends before the Puma collaboration came about. It just seemed a natural fit. BUT there’s moments when I’m being myself, he’s being himself and we’re being friends and just getting along. I have to step back a moment and just think, as a fan, “this guy has played with, played against, played at the best people and places in football”. I have so many questions. I’m american - if I grew up in Europe and played soccer at the level I did in the States, I would probably have someone close to me who would go on to make it as a pro. But since I’m American, I know no one who has really truly made it at a big team. Growing up, our goal was that.

Talking to someone like Bellerin, I have to hold back. There was a moment I remember when I had just gone to Iceland on Vacation and wanted to see it on route to meeting Puma. It was a cheap 100 bucks flight and so I thought I’d just go out there to see the place and see the Northern lights. Hector hit me up and was like, “yo, I’m going to Iceland next week”. He was asking me questions about the place and what it would be like out there. I was just like, “dude, I know your salary, our experiences are going to be so wildly different”. We have to step back and look at each other's worlds. As a human being, he is fire, he is awesome. I held back my soccer nerdiness. It was definitely a dream come true, I can’t stress that enough.

How have you found the reaction to it? We’ve seen so many players show interest, the likes of Usain Bolt too - it’s no ordinary release is it?

Yeah I mean, the Usain Bolt thing has meant so much for me. I was on to the Puma guys being like, “look, if there’s a possibility we can get Usain Bolt”, I will literally do anything. I will paint him a portrait, give him a message - anything I can do to show him this collection, I’m in. That was crazy when I saw him wearing stuff from this collection. He’s literally the fastest man in the world and he’s so nice. Everybody knows who he is. What this collab really did - it made so much possible. All the dreams of things I wanted to do, it made them possible. There’s crazy accomplishments wrapped up in this collection.

I knew it was going to be a big collab and I was confident in the design because they were mine - I’m confident in my work so that never phased me. I think the thing that played on my mind was just the response in sales. Like you know if this was a Nike drop and I was given a Jordan, it would sell no matter how it looked because the market is so different. All you need to change one colour on that shoe and people go crazy for it because Jordan has hammered in these silhouettes. That’s why I was such a fan of what PUMA allowed us to do. They just said - you can be as free as you want. I think that is what has made this such a success on so many levels - it’s all unique. Now I think this has shown what can be done with a Puma collab. If I was Puma, I’d sign me to a lifetime deal [laughs] and I keep telling them - make me the creative director of Puma!

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You must have so many ideas as to what you’d like to do in the football world. Has this collaboration made you realise even more that could be done?

Yeah so one of the things as part of the marketing campaign for this collection was a cartoon that we put out. For the next collection, the concept is going to be a KidSuper kids soccer field. We’re going to build that somewhere in New York. I’m trying to find exactly where but I think that is another dream I’d like to achieve. Supreme has a skatepark, KidSuper has a Soccer field. That was always what I wanted to achieve. For what skateboarding is to Supreme, KidSuper is to soccer. That’s my culture, that’s what I grew up in and that’s the heart and sole of the brand. It’s authentic as well you know? It would be weird if I was like “skateboarding is my thing” and I can barely kick flip.

Having my own pitch in NYC would be crazy. There’s not many pitches in New York so having one would be incredible. Just the ability to text someone like Hector Bellerin is crazy. I’m now constantly pitching PUMA ideas. Now that the door is open, I feel like I have endless ideas for them. I can’t stress it enough but seeing how much we’ve accomplished, it’s really made me realise that anything is possible. We have our KidSuper team out here and being able to give every player a pair of the boots has meant so much. There’s a lot of kids who come from backgrounds where they may not be able to pay for new boots so to do that has meant a lot.

It would be incredible to have KidSuper teams all over the planet…

That’s what I’m saying. Let’s get SoccerBible involved. I couldn’t agree more. Not only building pitches and stuff but the cities and governments should get involved too. In New York it’s so hard for a kid to find a place to play soccer. So things like that have to change. I’m excited. Even bouncing ideas with you guys is cool. We’ve got to do something together...

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Find out more on the KidSuper x Puma Collaboration here.
KidSuper Collection modelled by Bristol City's Han-Noah Massengo.