Fresh from the release of the Dress Dunk Collection and an upmarket Ulysses Nardin colab, we speak sneakers once again with the boys from Pimp My Kicks. A world away from the amateur artwork often associated with customs, PMK are working with new materials, fabrics and paints to recreate classic sneakers as premium one-off pieces. Listen in as we talk to CEO Andre Scott and head designer AJ about bespoke Jordans and the curse of the South Beach custom!
So let's start simple. What's been happening since our last conversation in 2010?
Andre: A lot to say the least. I moved from President to CEO and hired AJ Ballard our new President/ Creative Director and Head Artist. We also brought on two more upcoming artists named Raw and a female artist that goes by the tag INO. We have successfully transformed PMK® from a basement hobby into a custom lifestyle powerhouse. Since June of 2011 we are officially trademarked under MTV Networks, and January of 2012 PMK® launched its Perfectly Made Kicks Luxury line.
Looking at the Dress Dunk collection, it appears you guys are moving in a new direction?
AJ: Yes we have. We are bringing back the individual choice to stand out amongst the mass-produced, general-release-adopting population. With this collection we are reaching out to our sneaker heads that are in the board rooms and private jets handling business. Those guys are constantly living the custom lifestyle. From the watch to the socks, everything is made to order. That’s an untapped market in our custom sneaker world.
How did you come to work with Oliver Moore Bootmakers? It must have been a trip working alongside a company that has been in business since 1878.
Andre: That’s a funny question. They actually contacted our previous CEO and he sent the email over to AJ, who at the time was our Marketing Director. After speaking with them, we learned that they wanted to do some cross marketing. Then AJ came to me and suggested that we talk to them about reconstructing some sneakers in collaboration. I thought that it was brilliant, so I gave him the green light. We actually have a working agreement with them now. This is only the beginning!
How long does it actually take to reconstruct a pair of sneakers like the Dress Dunk collection?
Andre: These guys have actually turned a pair around in a day! The experience that they have accumulated in their field is unmatched! We are proud to be partnered with them.
What's behind the new move into reconstruction?
AJ: We have been doing painted sneakers for years! We knew that we could corner the market by offering this option to our corporate clients and also make our company more appealing to sneaker heads and athletes who don’t really like painted customs. Another reason we chose this route is that it gives us an unbelievable amount of options in materials and shoe models. Every shoe shouldn’t be painted, but remaking them out of exotics, wools, and leathers: Now that’s different!
So you're looking to start dropping bespoke Jordans! Please tell us more about this, which models are you looking at flipping?
AJ: Indeed! We are starting with the model that started it all; Air Jordan 1. We can’t give away too much because they actually drop in a couple of weeks! Only ten pairs will be made and as far as design we will keep it classic but with a twist in our material selection. Here’s a hint: different animal, same beast!
Do you feel the custom sneaker culture is becoming cheap? There seems to be an influx of bedroom customizers simply throwing existing colourways on different sneakers (putting a South Beach colourway on a Jordan IV for example) and getting as much blog hype as something more thought out and artistic.
AJ: It is really getting ridiculous! The colors are off on a lot of them too! I feel like the game has always had bad customs floating around, but they didn’t get featured on notable blogs and reputable websites. I think we have reached a place where bloggers are accepting 'gifts' in exchange for features! That’s just my opinion but there has to be some truth to my conspiracy theory. Maybe they don’t see it how we see it, or maybe they don’t have a standard like you guys! Kids, just say NO to South Beach customs!
We listed Nicki Minaj, Diddy and Wil.I.Am as PMK clientele last time we caught up. Have there been new celeb customers since then?
Andre: Let’s see, Big Time Rush, Victoria Justice, and the rest of the stars that you see in Nickelodeons World Wide Day of Play commercial. We also did sneakers for MTV and Nickelodeon’s executives following the initial order that they placed. We are currently working with Microsoft to develop 27 pairs of sneakers featuring their Internet Explorer brand logo and colors. You will have the exclusive on that! We have picked up 3 other corporate contracts while working on our Microsoft collaboration.
What's in the works for the future at PMK?
Andre: The future of PMK is all about growth and product development. We have our own line of paint dropping soon boasting a collection of custom mixed colors (South Beach colors not included). We also have a luxury back pack line and watch collaboration coming up very soon. Our tee line samples are on the way back to us now. Our ladies line will debut this spring featuring designs on various heel silhouettes, from our female artist 'INO' and 'RAW'. AJ, who now goes by the tag name 'Hybrid' has a onslaught of crazy designs coming out for our Luxury line and our hand painted originals. 2012 marks a new era for PMK®. We are confident in our ability to bring a fresh ideas and products to the sneaker game. With all the work that we do for corporate businesses we are thinking of changing our name to Corporate Customs! What do you think?