In celebration of his fourth collection with Stance, we caught up with Kenny Gonzales, aka Perfect Pair, to talk about his inspirations and what got him into collecting. According to Perfect Pair, having a story to tell is what hip-hop and true culture are all about.
Most slept on sneaker ever?
Ever! Jordan 2’s…Yes, that’s my opinion. That was the first Jordan shoe that Jordan had a hand in, so it's kind of funny to say his first shoe is the most slept on shoe. I think it’s because Mike made a completely different silhouette of sneaker and people didn’t really understand the complexity of the shoe. It was ahead of its time to be honest with you.
I don’t care what anyone says, we invented what these kids are doing today, yesterday and tomorrow. It's not old school, it's true school.
Tell us about collecting. Where did it begin for you?
Garbage Pail Kids--that’s where it started for me. You could collect one and there would be an extra name for the second card, or there would be a little bit of a difference about the second one with a different name. My thing was trying to find the oddball card, that everyone couldn’t find. Obviously, with WWF wrestling back in the day, you got Hulk Hogan, Hacksaw Jim Dugan, the old announcer with the big beard (I forgot his name.) I always remember waking up every Saturday morning and I would go straight to the watching wrestling.
All my buddies would come over and bring all their Garbage Pail Kids, and then came sneakers. I can’t really say collecting sneakers started until I was quite a bit older. We actually collected marbles too, kind of crazy. Played a lot of marbles back in the day. We were bored kids from in the dirt, we didn't have much to do, and marbles were easy to come across. We got cat eye marbles, we got the ones with the crazy colors in the middle that kinda splice out. We had the bigger ones, the smaller ones. We used to make the circle--we used to actually used to play marbles. That was a big deal. I remember collecting a lot of stuff like that, and of course hip-hop records. Back in the day, you had the Fat Boys, Grand Master Flash, you had all these people who were doing their thing, but then RUN DMC came into my life. When RUN DMC came into my life, my life changed.
I actually did a talent show in fifth grade, and I did “Walk This Way" for my song. They didn’t even know what the words were. “Hey diddle diddle with the kitty in the middle,” I mean in fifth grade! And they allowed this stuff to go through. I would say that is where the hip-hop thing started, and that’s where everything: shoes, fashion, all that stuff started to coming into play. I don’t care what anyone says, we invented what these kids are doing today, yesterday and tomorrow. It's not old school, it's true school.
You post numerous inspirational quotes and messages on your Instagram. What are your inspirations?
There are a lot of people that inspire me. There’s several people who post on Instagram. I follow them, and the things they have to say. It kinda makes me wonder sometimes, where they pull their inspiration from. When I hear certain things said by, you know, Andy… He’s one of my favorite guys to watch on Instagram. He goes by @Andyfrisella. When this dude talks, you hear him say certain things. I will let this play for a second. [He played this clip from Andy's Instagram feed.] When I hear certain people say certain things, I say, "This guy actually knows his stuff." So the point is I pull a lot of my inspiration from these guys who have fortune 500 companies, these guys who have mogul real estate companies. These certain guys like @cleverinvestor on Instagram: he kills it with his speeches and stuff that you hear him say, and him showing the people he’s taught, or inspired to do certain things. These huge checks that they’re winning now, when two years ago, they were trying to figure out how to pay their mortgage. It’s really cool to see true motivation, not just people trying to be cool through a motivation through their Instagram, but actually show the truth through the pudding. When I see that, I give big praise to be honest with you.
I don’t have to be Perfect Pair… I choose to be. I didn’t have to be Kenny Gonzales with “Taylormade Terriers,” I chose to be. These things in life that I choose to do have propelled me to go a lot of places. With the dogs I have gone from Maine to Spain basically, I’ve gone all over the world. In that realm, I’m very well known. I’ve been on ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN, I’ve already been there, so when it came to the sneakers it turned it into, ok… we can do things, but will it ever get to that level? And then it did. It's not ABC, NBC, CBS or anything like that, but it's turned into social media, and we didn’t have that when I was showing dogs, and again collecting sneakers in 2000 up into 2010 and 2011. We were never on social media talking about that kind of stuff, so of course it always raises questions like, “Well where did this guy come from?” or “How did he do this?” or “Oh he had to have just bought all of this stuff, because he has all this money.” I’ll raise the bar to anybody to say "I know the exact amount of money I have upstairs in sneakers: go duplicate it." It can't be done. It’s impossible to duplicate that sneaker room upstairs, because of just the history of shoes, not just the hype sneakers. To me, motivation lies within these people who are able to keep pushing, and pushing, and not settle for just what they have, 'cause I could have done that along time ago, and nobody would know of Taylormade Terriers, which is known to be the best American pit bull Am staff kennel in the United States of America, and I did that single-handedly, all by myself.
So again, pushing forward into this shoe realm, or fashion realm, or whatever you want to call it.So again, did I want to come in and crush it? No. She (Wife, Montana Gonzales) exposed a lot of things behind the doors, in this room, and in this room, in the bathroom, in our spare bedroom, and that’s what created “Perfect Pair,” because she showed all of these people my sneakers. So motivation is a daily grind, but it should also put a smile on your face, because you see at the end of the motivation, at the end of the grind, the motivation came through.
Mike & Scottie or Shaq & Kobe?
Whoooo! Mike and Scottie… all day. The Dynamic Duo is what I would call that in basketball. It was such a highlight, show-time era of basketball, where I had to watch the game, I wanted to watch the game. I would record it on VHS, hell, or even on Beta if I didn’t have VHS, but the point is my buddies sat around we would kick it, you make a 7 layer bean dip or something like that, my mom would make something for everyone and the guys would just hang out and we would watch the game. Everything they did together, they would kill it, and it's good to see someone that is of Mike’s stature try to bring Scottie under his wing and make him an equal partner. Not trying to outshine him, not trying to out do him. His mentality was, "If I’m in trouble I'll dish to you, if you're in trouble, you’ll dish to me." They played very well together. I'll say this though. When the name Kobe comes up, that’s just... Aah. I just see fro Kobe with the #8, doing these juke moves, making these moves, doing things exactly how Mike used to do it. That’s the only other person that I can say can hold a torch to that man.
This will be your fourth signature sock with Stance. Why all black this time?
Ya know. Everything I drive is black, the trim on my home and my gutters are black, my boat is partially black. The main thing is this for me: I became known for a certain Air Jordan 11 I own. A lot of people of labeled it a black out. I would say in footwear that’s where that comes from. The black is me. I know a lot of people say it's not a color, and they are correct. It's not a color, it’s a hue, it's a negative of a positive, so it's not anything but what you make of it. If you see black to be beautiful, it's beautiful. A lot of people see black and say, "It reminds me of my grandmother going into a hearse," and they are upset with it. So the point is black can be deceiving, and I kind of like that. It's mysterious, it leaves question marks, and I think doing so, its my favorite color. I'll leave it like that.
What does the next 10 years look like for The Perfect Pair?
Fun, fun, and more fun, that’s the way I see it. After our wreck in April, a lot has changed, emotionally, and physically. I’ve withdrawn a little bit from the whole sneaker world, I'll say that. I don’t know if I’m growing up, I don’t know if I’m getting older, I don’t know if I’m getting over it, ya know. It makes me raise that question. I'll say this: the passion will always come through to raise the bar to say I'm never going to be over it; I'm always going to be part of it. I say I don’t want to do this, then I feel bad because I didn’t do it. It goes by me and other people do it, and that’s not an issue, I praise them for being able to step up in certain instances when I couldn’t fill those shoes. In the same aspect for me, if I say I am going to do something, I need to start really sticking to it, or just step away from it and watch everyone else flourish from it, and not be mad at what they do, or what they get, or how they get it, or anything like that. Ya know the next guy is always going to come along, you're not ever the top dog forever, ya know. From 2013, when I put out my first social media video that went crazy through YouTube, not going to mention names for personal reasons. But point is I wish I would have done all that myself. Set up the media crew and all that myself, then it would have been all different, but I didn’t do it that way, I really didn’t know what I was doing. We were just fly by the night, just trying to figure it out, and I think we’ve shown people how to do it and I think that is what I need to start focusing on more, not the “well I didn’t get,” and “how come,” and “who and why”… It doesn’t matter. I laid a footprint. They are trying to fill it, they can only fill it so much because passion, time, and education can never be outdone by anything in this world. If you have the right mind, the right passion, and the right push behind you, which for me, is the woman sitting to my right (Wife, Montana Gonzales). She’s always pushed me in the right direction, even though I’ve pushed back. She will never push me into the wrong direction, I’m just stubborn. I’m just to the point now where I say “Am I too old for this?” but I know I’m not.
To me it's about… I’m seeing these kids going broke buying things, and they need to focus on…Here’s a great instance. Kevin Durant is at a sneaker show. These kids have crazy Kevin Durant sneakers on their feet, they pull them off and Kevin Durant signs them for him. At the end of the day they come to me and say “Perfect Pair, what do you think they are worth?” You know what my answer was? "They are priceless." Why are they priceless? Because that is never going to happen again, that man signed them for you. You have a story to tell. That is what hip-hop and true culture and all of this is about. After going out and seeing great DJing, after great hip-hop shows, and parties or what ever it is, we have fellowship or camaraderie, and we all talk about the great times we had together. These kids don’t understand that anymore, they’ve lost that. That’s La Raza, that’s true heart, they’ve lost it, it's not there anymore. It's all about a dollar, and that’s the sad part about the culture. They get their Yeezy, they wear it in 2-3 photos, flex, flex, flex, and take some b-roll and they have all these different socks, shoes, jeans or whatever and they keep posting, and they don’t even have the shoes anymore. It's turned into something it's not. When it was very real, in 2012, 2013, and 2014, when people were really focusing on the sneaker game. The talk was good, it was never “Forget him for having that thousand dollar shoe” or whatever it was. For me, we just got to get back to the basics, and let these kids understand that it's not all about taking these memories away, it's about making memories.