Why You Need To Know About HUF(nagel)
HUF was not birthed in a flagship store in San Francisco for it took shape on the very streets of NYC where one Keith Hufnagel used to freewheel around the Brooklyn Banks. In the raging 80s punk culture where skateboarding was not embraced with open arms by the American culture, Hufnagel saw himself as a round peg in the square hole, finding refuge in a counterculture that skateboarding was gradually emerging as. Hufnagel with his mates used to prance around on their four wheels, plastering “HUF ONE” across the city which slowly transcended into something bigger for the skating community as a whole.
After maturing into a pro skateboarder, Hufnagel thought it was time to give back to the lifestyle that gave him so much, culminating in the opening of his own skateboarding shop in Tenderloin, San Francisco in 2002. The intention with it was not just a cookie-cutter brick-and-mortar but a haven for like-minded people who worshipped the skate, intermingling it with sneakers and streetwear.
The boutique soon became a coveted spot for copping internationally renowned hard-to-get kicks and streetwear items alongside harboring the community fastened to the street culture. Building on the back of this popularity, came running alone HUF-branded hats and tees, soon morphing into lifestyle apparel in 2007. The self-description of the brand says, "Made by skateboarders, for skateboarders, HUF represents not only a more refined and forward-thinking skateboard brand but also any individual inspired by the vast array of countercultures that parallel skateboard mentality,” and the vision for the brand was cemented thus.
You’d think the assimilation of skateboarding and the street culture would drift off quickly like dead, dancing leaves in autumn but the commitment of Hufnagel towards it was as strong as the wind. Functionality was numero uno in whatever had a HUF logo etched on it for it to be legitimately fit into skating gear. The garments incorporated materials with unmatched durability that sat in harmony with the construction to withhold the wear and tear that’s commonplace with skating. But that isn’t the only identifier of the brand’s aesthetic sensibilities.
HUF Worldwide has been known to cause quite a stir with its whimsical pieces, clothed in top-class satire and/or irony that the world saw as controversial. HUF, capitalising on the rebellion brimming underground, spew out with their Plantlife socks that had weed leaves dancing on them which suprisingly did not catch on instantly but rightly, blew up around 2011.
2013 brought around another round of controversy, brought to HUF Worldwide, courtesy to their tongue-in-cheek humor. Their SS’13 collection titled ‘FUCK IT’ pushed out bucket caps in the patriotic white, red and blue as well as tank tops anc short-sleeved shirts.
Continuing on the ‘FUCK IT’ road, we arrive at ‘fuck you,’ no, not you silly, but to “oppressors, to injustice, to violence, to racism, to authority, to inequality” as the brand said. We are ofcourse talking about the enormous, Hulk-sized middle finger that decorated HUF’s store crafted by Japanese artist, Haroshi.
Pieced together from all recycled skateboard decks, the sculpture was damaged in the looting in lieu of the BLM movement. Coincidently, only the middle finger got knocked down morphing the sculpture into the raised fist of the BLM movement, proving that there’s a God. Y’all know we’re kidding right? ( Or are we?) Whatever it was, Hufnagel took a moment and made it perfect ( thank you IG captions of 2010 ) pasting the fist symbol onto tees and selling 100% of proceeds from it to BLMLA.
The demise of Hufnagel was mourned across boarders but the legacy he left behind was bigger than DNA. The journey of HUF from an open-to-all boutique shop in Tenderloin to flagships scattered across the world, the essence of Hufnagel and his endearing love for the skateboarding community stands sewed in all HUF pieces and will be “Today, tomorrow and forever.”
The skateboard and streetwear brand is now available in-store and online at FTC Del. Shop here.