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When it is about creativity, self-improvement, success based on effort and dreams come true, one of the first people who comes to mind is César Pérez.
Surely many of you don’t know him – yet – but Cesar is involved in some of the most interesting projects in today’s fashion industry, working hand in hand with brands such as Nike, Alyx or Fear of Good among many others.
Cesar grew up in USA and is the clear example of the American dream. A Dominican who succeeds in the US industry. One of his greatest achievements, the design for Nike of the Air Force 1 Dominican Republic. A shoe that was an absolute sold-out and of which all Dominicans are proud.
We have the pleasure to meet him and we wanted to share with you who he is, what he does and above all his story behind the design of one of the shoes with the most message and social load of recent times. #mustread
We suggest that you follow him (@ceze.p) very closely in his footsteps as César still has much to show.
H.-Briefly summarize us. Who is César Pérez? How would you define your work?
César Pérez (CP) – I am a man of many interests, I like to look at myself as an artist. Everything I do regardless if it is corporate work or whatever I like to look at from an artistic standpoint and keep my artistic integrity. From a working standpoint I am a Designer, Creative director, Salesman, Strategist, Account Executive.
H.-No doubt you’re an example of what’s known as American Dream. A Latino born in NYC who triumphs in the American consumer industry with a project that talks about his roots. How has the road to this point been? Surely many other creators, now, will notice you… What advice would you give them?
(CP) – It’s been a long journey, I went to the university of Florida to study Law, because my mom became pregnant with me while beginning school and she always wanted to be a lawyer, but halfway into it I knew I wanted absolutely nothing to do with law. I wanted to study Fashion Design since I loved clothes since a kid, but Florida didn’t have a program so I was stuck. When I got out of school I opened my own streetwear boutique in a mall in Florida. I sold stuff like 10 deep, Crooks & Castles, Stussy. But even with that as much as I loved clothes I felt like I wasn’t using my brain since it was still retail.
So I decided to move to back to ny and see what I could do, I took a job at a marketing agency as a production assistant because they worked on the nike account, and I always wanted to design sneakers since a kid, so working with nike would be a cool job even if it wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to be doing. Yet from working at the agency I learned a lot and met a lot of people and honestly it is a big reason I was able to start my own company and be doing the things am doing today.
H.- We know you’ve been working in the fashion industry for a long time behind some of the most interesting projects. How did the opportunity arise to design your own shoe for Nike?
(CP) – That came from this lady who worked at nike at the time, her name is Emily Anadu. She always saw me at different nike events that I was working at and one day she asked me to come into the office for a meeting. That meeting changed my life.
H.- Why did you choose Air Force 1 Low?
(CP) – The white on white Air Force one to me is the best sneaker of all time. It is the perfect sneaker and besides that as a kid I saw Puerto Rico AF1, Philipino AF1, and always wondered why there wasn’t a Dominican version. I used to draw different color ways of the Dominican AF1 in class as a kid. So it wasn’t even a second thought what shoe this should be.
H.- In terms of the creative process, what does each element that composes it allude to?
(CP) – The overall process was amazing I got to work with Al Baik from Nike basketball, he was awesome because he allowed me to really push my vision and used his skills to enhance it even more. The overall sneaker was inspired by Dominicans in New York and the different elements we have to transcend and my favorite AF1s of all time, stash hi’s, Taiwan’s. But then the shoe itself had some more literal inspiration from the culture. Such as dominos, the leather we used is dirtproof and water resistant meant to mimick the way dominos never get dirty and always maintain their color.
The check goes from blue to red but also shows all the color spectrum in different lights, and I wanted that to signify all the different colors we as Dominican people are. It’s back by a 3m reflective around the swoosh to highlight NYC streets.
The milk sole comes from the stash hi’s I loved how that sole looks and how it looks when it aged and I wanted to put something on the sole that could be read. I put “DE LO MÍO” on the bottom of the shoe because it’s a term we use to uplift each other and I thought that would be powerful on the sole of your feet.
H.- Did you expect the impact it’s having? The shoe has reached a resale price of more than 60% of the original value, and we’ve even seen LeBron wearing it.
(CP) – Honestly, no, I didn’t think it would be anything like this. I mean I knew it was going to be historical just cause I knew what this sneaker meant to the people, and what nike meant to Dominicans specifically. But to give Lebrun a pair and see him wear them is crazy, I was a kid reading slam magazines following everything LeBron did. He was my favorite player after Michael Jordan so that was really crazy to see.
H.- Through your Instagram we see that you are linked to projects such as Evident Future and more recently to 625 industries. What do these projects consist of and what is your role?
(CP) – At Evident Future I just help however I can, thats Will Velasquez running the ship over there in memory of his brother Leo. 625 industries is my innovation company. I am director of 625 industries and lead most projects that we are a part of.
H.- Have you worked with Heron, Virgil, Jerry Lorenzo or Matthew… What aspects or areas have you been immersed in? Do you currently work with them?
(CP) – Matthew is my family, I love him to death he is one of the most inspirational dudes I’ve been around. I’m honored to be apart of the Alyx Family and I learn so much from getting to work with him and the brand.
“Emily Anadu […] always saw me at different nike events that I was working at and one day she asked me to come into the office for a meeting. That meeting changed my life.” – César Castro
H.- We’ve seen you recently with Salehe Bembury, Versace sneakers designer. Anything new in hand?
(CP) – Nah ,no work, that’s just my brother, a good dude that I respect and admire a lot. I’m lucky to be able to be surrounded by people who inspire me and help me build my world out. I can always call and bounce ideas off of.
H.- From your point of view, since you are in constant contact with new projects, on which emerging brands should we put the radar?
(CP) – NIKE, you know it’s Nike Boyz forever. But also lookout for some pop ups I’m going to be apart of and NEW ASAP FERG on the way.
H.- Finally, what projects are you currently working on?
(CP) – I would lie and say I don’t actually work, but I have to deal with budgets and invoices and boring shit sometimes that is work, but I would do that any day to be able to do all the other cool stuff that I do for “work”.