Puma launches $155 fish-skin shoes in Argentina

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[Buenos Aires] Puma introduced what are believed to be the world's first fish-skin sneakers last week in Argentina. The Herzogenaurach, Germany-based sportswear maker teamed up with Tramando, a Buenos Aires fashion house run by designer Martin Churba, and PEL Patagonia Exotic Leathers, supplier of the skin. The shiny, limited edition designer sneakers come in a range of five colors at $155 a pair, plus a gold version for $233. The exterior is made from alosa, a fish also known as shad that is abundant on the Atlantic coast and in Argentina's rivers. The alosa sneakers are touted as flexible, durable and twice as resistant as leather shoes, and just as soft. The skin was previously discarded when the fish was sold as food.

The shoes are on sale at two stores in upscale Buenos Aires neighborhoods, Mr. Churba's own boutique and a Puma Concept Store. Mr. Churba is spearheading promotion of the shoes, which he launched during a runway show that kicked off Buenos Aires Fashion Week and was attended by local celebrities, fashion journalists and buyers from department stores like London's Selfridges and Mexico City's Palacio de Hierro. Athletes ran up and down the runway wearing the fish-skin sneakers. The designer is expected to take the shoes to more fashion shows, building word-of-mouth buzz and media coverage, including the glossy celebrity and fashion magazines Caras and Hola bought by its target consumer. "If sales take off, we will consider a wider effort" both in expanding the company's range of fish-skin products and marketing them elsewhere, said Ezequiel de Olazabal, Puma's marketing manager in Argentina.

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