Interviewed by: Jesse Carr
Produced by: Dan Hwang
Keith Hufnagel originally made a name for himself in the ‘90s, as the New York native began to appear in REAL videos popping bigger ollies than anyone else on the scene. His bold, brash style would serve him well in a new venture in 2002, when Hufnagel opened his first retail store in his adopted hometown of San Francisco. By launching HUF, Keith was looking was looking to bring the sort of limited-edition kicks that one could previously find only in New York or L.A. to the Bay Area. HUF would go on to become an influential brand in its own right, first through a series of high-profile collaborations with the likes of Nike, Vans and Thrasher, then through the development of full-blown in-house apparel and sneaker lines.
This month finds HUF releasing its latest collaborative project, a limited edition black G-Shock GD400 watch featuring “cracked concrete” etching on the band, reminiscent of the early “Hufquake” design that gave the nod to HUF’s Bay Area roots. A delightfully absurdist video entitled “What” heralded the release. We recently sat down with Keith to discuss how the project, as well as the corresponding short film, both came about, and how the watch ties in to skateboarding culture, something that’s always been a priority for Keith and his entire Dirtbag Crew.
Keith Hufnagel, owner of HUF
Freshness: What was the process like to develop the promotional video--”What”--for the collaboration? What did you hope to get across in the video?
Keith: This is an interesting and personally a funny internal HUF story. Basically we had to come up with a video for g shock and it was this ongoing thing in the Huf world that everyone says "what". This would apply to if someone says someone says something ridiculous where someone's response would be "what" or anything to that nature. So we had one of our riders - the originators of what - create a video around "what" and his life. We made that video for g shock. His name is Matt Gottwig.
How did you decide on the subtle branding approach with theh logo visible only when the LCD screen was activated?
We really chose to use the band for the branding in our way in the HUF voice - the signature HUF quake. This collaboration was the first time g shock was able to push a new pattern into a new band and it spoke to the HUF brand perfectly - only with the logo lighting up in the classic g shock button. Keeping it clean and classic.
In what way does the final product reflect the experiences and aesthetic of Keith Hufnagel?
We wanted to keep a clean and classic look - exactly how my aesthetic is. For the watch, keeping the tonal gives it the pattern more of an attitude
Can you explain the overall connection between G shock and skate culture? Why do you think the line of watches connects so well with skate culture?
I think g shock has always been a part of street culture. I use to be a sponsored rider of g shock and as someone who has grown with the brand, I've seen it evolve in the skate community. As I expand my personal brand, I notice the same community embraces the brand - as I have - based on the same core values
Essentially, the g shock watches connect with the skate culture because it is indestructible, easily accessible and unable to destroy. Every trick we do is something that can easily cause interaction with a surface and damage any accessory we might wear. The beauty of G shock is the overall product package is sustainable which would work for any athlete especially a skater.
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