newsHIT Interview: Kenny on Converse

kenny-interview

Among the new additions to Converse, Eli Reed and Angel Ramirez, is Kenny Anderson… finally. As skating’s smoothest and lowest profile pro, Kenny wore Converse shoes even before he was sponsored or had his first Converse shoe in 1999. When the shoe company tried it’s hand at skating for the second time, about a year ago, everyone expected him to be skating in the star and chevron again. But, after some speculation, he’s got his hogs back where they belong. Learn more…

You just got on Converse, right? When did you get on the first time?

Yeah, I’m back on. I got on as an amateur in 1997.

That was their first stab at doing full-on skate shoes, right?

They might have had something before, but that was the first big push for it. They had a team and ads and we were doing tours and stuff.

A lot of guys were wearing their shoes before it was official. Didn’t Guy [Mariano] used to wear them a lot?

Yeah, Guy actually had an ad. It was like an H-Street style ad—like the look of it. It’s shot really close and you can barely tell what he’s doing [laughs]. They actually did something before I got on, but I don’t know how it all worked out. But, in 1997, they actually started it officially.

Then, you eventually got a pro shoe in 1999, right?

Yeah, it was around there. I was saying no for a while. I turned pro in ’98. I didn’t think I was worthy of a shoe at that time. Then, I realized that I was getting an offer for a shoe and this may never happen again. So I did it.

Who else had a Converse shoe?

Chany [Jeanguenin], Felix [Arguelles]…but Converse was different then. I wanted something like the old Dr. J or a Chuck, but they wanted to compete with the shoes at the time—be all big and have crazy technology.  They were like, “We can’t take a classic and just make it a skate shoe.”

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Well, it must be cool to be a part of it this time around, because they seem to have taken that approach.

Yeah, I’m actually really psyched on it, you know? When I moved out [from Las Vegas], I always wore Converse—always skated in Chucks. The first time around, though, the shoes were different. But, Chany, Felix and I were always in there trying to convince them to do basically what they’re doing now. It was really cool seeing the progress over the past year from the outside. I was so stoked to get the call—even to get the offer.

When was that?

They first called me when they launched Cons, a year ago. I was a little bit ambivalent, just because of what happened the first time around. But, that first time, in the late 90s was still awesome—I traveled the world, I was on a team with my best friends and I had so many awesome experiences. When they asked me a year ago, I was on Adio, which was okay at the time.

Interestingly enough, my first shoe on Adio was based off of a design I made at Converse around ‘99. I basically had it all designed, then we took the star and chevron Converse symbol and added an A, tweaked it a little bit and that became a my shoe. It ended up being a really good shoe for Adio. That was cool, because I actually learned to design and put a lot of input into that shoe and it sold really well.

How did things end off with Adio, then?

You know? I rode for Planet Earth, getting flowed since I was 14—Chris Miller was one of my favorite skaters and I was really loyal to Chris. I stuck it out with Planet Earth for as long as I could before I rode for Chocolate. I moved to Adio with Chris, so it still felt like Earth with all the people in the building. With the changes in the last year and a half, Chris and Jeff Taylor—the two most influential people in my skateboarding life—left Adio, because they had a lot of differences. So, that made it hard to stay around. I loved all the guys on the team and everything, but I was really looking for reasons to stay, whereas I knew why I was there before.

I remember when they started up the Cons program, but no one really knew who was on the team. I was just thinking, Sick, Kenny Anderson’ll be on.

Yeah, thanks, that was crazy. A lot of people thought I was on, so it actually started affecting the sales of my Adio shoe at the time. I didn’t even accept the deal or anything, but shops and vendors were questioning buying my Adio shoe, because they all heard the rumor that I was going to ride for Converse.

It was a completely believable rumor at the time, though.

I agree. Yeah, when I got back on finally, I put the shoes back on and it just felt right. It was cool to hear the feedback from my friends. They would say stuff like, “It makes sense. If you had never come out here from Vegas, you’d still be skating in Converse. Those shoes belong on your feet.”

If you had to design a shoe now, what would it be?

We’re in the process of designing one for Spring 2011. One of my favorite shoes is the Star Player—it’s pretty much a Chuck with the star and the chevron on the side.  That’s what I’ve been skating in. We might modify that for my shoe. We’re working on a few ideas. Until then, I’m just doing a couple colorways in the Star Player and maybe another shoe. It was a hard decision and one that took a lot of thinking, but now I just look down at my feet and it feels right.