Blank You Very Much recently caught up with HUF founder Keith Hufnagel for an interesting interview. Hufnagel talks about the brand's history, collaborations with the likes of Stussy and Shwood, how New York City and San Francisco have influenced HUF, and his favorite HUF piece of all time. He even touches on what he'll be looking for while judging the HUF x BYVM "Design a Huf Tee & Logo Contest". Educate yourself and read on below.
On the inception of HUF:
"Well I guess you could say HUF was sort of born on the streets. Back when I was real young just growing up and skating in NYC in the 80s, I was always tagging ‘HUF ONE’ around the city– back then skating and tagging kind of went hand-in-hand, spot-to spot. The name HUF just stuck with me as a sort of nickname amongst my friends, so once I turned pro I started using it on product and clothing and it became what people recognized me by. In 2002, after I had been living and skating in San Francisco for a bit, I decided I wanted to open up a retail shop that would sort of fuse skateboarding with the sneaker and streetwear scenes at the time. We ended up naming the shop HUF, and once the store caught on we started producing some product here and there with the shop name– just hats and tees at first– and before we knew it, it had turned into a full-blown clothing line. The whole evolution of the brand was really organic in a sense, and that’s something I’m really proud of. I’m stoked to see the brand where it is at today, considering how it all came about."
On his creative process when working on collaborations:
"Oh man, when it comes to collaborations it is so hit or miss… Sometimes they can be really easy, and sometimes they can be extremely difficult. The process is always a bit different depending on the company, but it always begins with that initial spark, that original idea. Once that idea is in place, we develop it as a team down here, and then approach whatever company we have in mind. Some of those companies may be really feeling the idea and choose to go forward with it, but some companies may shoot it down and then we may have to re-approach them again in the future. The fact that there’s two parties involved and so many different minds coming together to make a collaboration happen makes the process very difficult and frustrating at times…. But then again, that’s what makes them so sick and worthwhile when they actually come together, you know. Like when everyone agrees on the idea and is stoked, you get so much positive input from like-minded people, and then the project just develops organically from there."
On his favorite HUF piece of all time:
"That’s always a hard one, haha… I’d probably have to go with the Barry McGee project we did a while back, the Ray Fong one. That was a project that did exactly what it was supposed to– that one shook some things up, which is exactly what Barry wanted!"
Check out the rest of the interview here.