Launching on Tuesday, Puma’s second digital world and shopping experience, Black Station 2, expands on the company’s initial launch into web3. Its first web3 project, Black Station 1, launched last September at NYFW as part of its “Futrograde” fashion show. The brand used learnings from its community to inform the second launch.
Puma’s Black Station is a digital world where users can view an immersive environment created with game developer Unreal Engine. They can also shop for limited-edition digital and physical sneakers. The second edition expands into two more digital worlds, with a unique sneaker tied to each.
“As we move forward into this second launch, we want to target a broader audience and let anyone come in, experience it and play with it. We’ll iterate from there and continue to broaden our approach,” said Ivan Dashkov, head of emerging marketing tech and web3 at Puma.
Accessible through the blackstation.puma.com site, users can walk through a white domed space to a Puma elevator. From there, they can choose to go up to the “Unkai” world inspired by Shibuya or go down to “Unter,” inspired by Berlin’s club culture. In Unkai, users float between Lego-like blocks in the sky featuring giant Puma shoes and the Super Puma mascot. In Unter, users go underground into a red-lit cave. They can then follow neon green footsteps to a Puma rave room or change routes to see a giant Fast-RB Puma shoe hanging on chains.
“The two spaces are fun because they’re so different,” said Dashkov. “There are also a couple of easter eggs we’ve hidden throughout the space related to our other NFT project, Super Puma PFP, in both the visuals and the story,”
Easter eggs are a device commonly found in gaming worlds, where developers add hidden items to the gaming environment that relate to the wider story.
With Black Station 1 and 2, the brand wanted to make the shopping experience more immersive, bringing it closer to the brand’s physical retail experience. Puma’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue has immersive displays, as well as an F1 car simulator for customers to experience.
“Right now, when people go onto the Puma.com website, it’s very static; they’re just scrolling through different products. You don’t really get to experience the brand,” Dashkov said.
Initially, the brand created Black Station as an immersive world and sneaker incubator. It quickly became popular in the web3 community and drew its own fans on Twitter and Discord. Puma’s Twitter has 2 million followers and keen engagement, largely due to its web3 community. Over 100,000 minutes were spent in the Black Station 1 experience.
“We’re a large brand, and we devote much of our Twitter real estate to what we do in the web3 world,” said Dashkov. “We know Twitter is where the web3 audience lives, so we want to make sure that we show up there and interact with people. We see Twitter as a big billboard where we communicate with our web3 audience and broadcast big news, while Discord we see more as a town square, with more one-on-one conversations.”
Puma launched on Discord in August 2022, with 35,000 maximum users at its highest point.
Its initial 4,000 NFTs, which were linked to physical sneakers from Black Station 1, sold out quickly, with over 90% currently being redeemed. Users who bought Black Station 1 sneakers will receive them in the latter part of 2023.
If users have a Puma Pass as a part of the Puma NFT world, they will be able to purchase the new Fast-RB sneakers in the Black Station 2 world. The sneakers will not be for sale to the general public until 2024. There will be two sneakers available: the Fast-RB Unkai and the Fast-RB Unter. Unkai will only be a digital collectible, available for free with the user paying only for gas transaction fees. Unter will be phygital, priced at 0.1 ETH, or $173.
After the brand sold items in a colorway that was similar to its first BS1 sneaker, the web3 community asked for exclusive colorways for its next digital drop, which Puma delivered. The Unter Fast-RB sneaker will be available for its Puma Pass holders in a unique splattered colorway. The key takeaway for the brand will be the data around engagement, especially among Puma Pass holders.
“We’re looking into how valuable these digital collectibles are to people and how much they want to collect them,” said Dashkov.
“It will be interesting to witness if fans of both web3 and Puma find enough of a draw to enter and return to Black Station 2, as the elements of gamification are more museum-like and less of an opportunity to play within the artfully created space,” said Sasha Wallignner, web3 strategist and founder of the web3 studio Blockchain Style Lab. “With so much of fashion and streetwear diving into web3, the stakes are higher for producing an entertainment experience that is worthwhile of the fans’ time and investment.”