“It’s just going to be awesome,” said the world’s fastest man, Usain “Lightning” Bolt, after learning that fashion designer Cedella Marley — the firstborn daughter of Bob and Rita Marley — would be designing fresh new Olympic Gear for the Jamaican Track & Field team. “I think it’s a good collab to come together and show the spirit of Jamaica,” said Bolt. “For a Marley kid to be doing this—they’re like a legend in Jamaica.”
Just days before Bob Marley’s 66th birthday, it was announced that fashion designer Cedella Marley would be creating the PUMA Jamaican Track & Field team’s Olympic, podium, and ceremony wear for the London 2012 Olympic Games. “It is truly an honor to design this collection for my home country and my home team,” she said. “It’s not even a dream come true because it’s something I never dreamed would be possible.”
In addition to fashion design, Cedella is also a children’s book author and the CEO of Tuff Gong International—the record label founded by father Bob Marley in 1965. She is also the director of Marley and Company which manages Bob’s image and music rights and helms the merchandising conglomerate The House of Marley. A life-long philanthropist, Marley is currently overseeing operations for The Bob Marley Foundation and 1Love.org, which aligns well with PUMA’s own commitment to giving back.
Cedella says she got her start as a designer purely by accident. “Touring with my brothers and sisters in The Melody Makers I just wanted us to stand out,” she recalls. “We were bringing something new to reggae, and I wanted to express that in the clothing.” She eventually progressed from “deconstructing” pieces for the stage to creating her own fashion line, Catch A Fire, named for one of her father’s early albums. After seven years she has moved on to focus on Cedella Marley Design.
Staying true to PUMA’s DNA of “sportlifestyle,” the collection will incorporate high-tech fabrics and silhouettes engineered to enhance the performance of all the athletes. “Designing for Usain Bolt and the Jamaican Olympic team, I just have to make sure my fabric choices are right,” says Cedella Marley, whose unique desgins draw inspiration from the vibrant colors of Jamaica as well as its African roots. “I would love for them to feel like they’re in their own skin. So that’s going to be my main focus, to make sure they feel like they’re in their own skin.” All eyes will be watching the Jamaican Track & FIeld team in the Summer of 2012—especially when Usain Bolt attempts to break his own records in the 100m and 200m. “We’re gonna burn up the tracks,” Cedella predicts.
A track runner in high school along with her sister, Cedella says she always to run the last leg in relays. She remains a huge fan of the sport to this day. “I remember last Olympics watching our team walk out,” the designer recalls. “And of course as a Jamaican I felt proud. I think we’re gonna stand out a little bit more in 2012. Everybody’s gonna be watching… because it’s like Pow!”
PUMA’s partnership with Marley, eldest daughter of the Jamaican family dynasty, underscores the brand’s long-term commitment to the Caribbean nation, with its rich cultural heritage, global music contributions, and its paralleled dedication to Atheletics. Since 2002, PUMA has sponsored the Jamaican Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA), which is the governing body for Track and Field in Jamaica, and the Jamaican Olympic Association. In addition to this, PUMA helps to foster young talent through sponsorship of 7 high school track and field programs. This partnership also drives the annual ISSA Boys & Girls Track and Field Championships, dubbed “The Champs” which is lauded as the most popular sporting event in Jamaica and the place where many of the world-renowned sprinters got their start. PUMA is a partner of pre-Champs meets including the Gibson Relays and various Invitationals. Outside of the high school sphere, PUMA is the main partner of the Reggae Marathon, which takes place each December in Jamaica and draws distance runners from all over the world.
Cedella Marley describes the relationship between PUMA and Jamaica and the Marleys as “a perfect blend of fashion, music, excitement, joy… You know, the whole lifestyle. It’s like, we’re laid back, but still fierce.”