Five things Breaks Mag learnt from Huf about starting your own brand.

Five things Breaks Mag learnt from Huf about starting your own brand.

London was whipped into a bit of a HUF frenzy this summer when Team Handsome turned up at Southbank to session the cheese block for the HUF x Thrasher Stoops Euro Tour. Cool kids in plantlife socks flooded in from towns in England you never knew existed and HUF even made a special T-shirt with trendy English aphorisms on it like ‘Mad For It’, ‘Arse Over Tit’ and ‘Long Live Southbank’. Bloody jokers.

So while most of us were busy fawning over Dylan ‘Face Of An Angel’ Rieder, the rad folk at Breaks Mag were catching up with the real hero behind the madness, OG skater-turned-brand king Keith Hufnagel. A New Yorker by birth, a San Franciscan by iconic video parts, Huf has shredded both coasts since the early 90s and remains a true legend in the game, nurturing his brand to iconic new heights. Also, if you Google him, he comes up as the ‘21st Most Powerful Person In Streetwear‘, which means he is the Sonia Gandhi of urban style. And that’s pretty huge.

Inspired by Huf’s holistic approach to starting his own brand and surviving the peaky economic climate, Breaks Mag broke down some of the words of wisdom for us. These are some must-know things for any entrepreneurial heads out there.

Things We Learnt From The Huf

By Breaks Mag


Grow Organically
“When we opened the store in San Francisco we were just doing it. There was no plan, it had a very organic growth to it and then we had to figure out how the hell we were actually going to put good margins on this product and make it even better and that was a whole new world of manufacturing… We ended up closing all the stores in the recession and focusing on the wholesale of the business… We wanted to focus on what we’d created and focus on our own brand. So we left it all, we dumped it all and cancelled all our accounts, paid all our bills.”

Don’t Lose Sight Of Your Foundations
“Our core is from skateboarding but we love lifestyle too so we’re not going to alienate ourselves to just being in skateboarding. Our attitude comes from skateboarding but we like chilling and hanging out and wearing cool clothes and going out at night and doing all these things and that’s streetwear… That’s a true brand, a pie that has every little piece in it and I see a lot of skate brands that are just skateboarding and they’re the ones that suffer because they alienate themselves, they’re too core… I like everything in streetwear, I like skateboarding I like fashion, I like art, I like music. I like all these things and that’s where the brand comes from… But you’ve got to have people to back it even if you got runners and you got fashion shoes you got all these different things going on. You’ve got to have something that’s the backbone of it and that’s skateboarding to the end.”

Stick Shit Out
“In the mid 90s or late 90s or something, I went on tour with the Girl and Chocolate team and you know two of my best friends Keenan Milton and Gino Iannuci were riding for them. So I travelled with them, hung out with them and they were just like, ‘Man you should just ride for this company!’ and I was like, ‘Fuck yeah!’ You know, everyone’s family with Deluxe and Girl and they talked to me. They were like, you know if you want to do it, we’ll do it, but you have to really want to do it. I ended up not doing it because I didn’t want to be that person to jump around. I wanted longevity. Twenty years at some place is rad. It’s not like I’m making all this money and all that, it’s just dedication and I wish some people out there would look at that and think, ‘I should do that,’ because once you start hopping and then you become old you’re done. They’re not going to support you through your later years.”

Stay Loyal
“Right now there’s a lot of hopping and people quitting and starting companies and that’s cool because that’s what happened in the early 90s where all the dudes from World left and started Girl and all these other companies and that’s totally cool. If you’re the owner and you have all this crew then you’re totally fine but it’s rad for someone to be in a company for twenty years too.”

Take Your Time Gaining Experience And Start Small
“I mean I rode for DC when it started. I did DC for five years then I went to DVS for 10 years and then I was in the store selling all these other brands and you know I felt like we could do just as good a job if not better than all these other people. I mean with the right factories and the right people, we could really do this. I partnered up with somebody who was very footwear experienced and we started.”

You can read the full interview over at Breaks Mag.