Technically HUF wasn’t founded until 2002, but the brand’s story started decades earlier in the emerging 80s NYC punk culture, where a young Keith Hufnagel became immersed in skate-culture and all the social ideals that came with it. As a young skateboarder, Keith created the tag “HUF ONE”, which he and his fellow skater friends plastered all over the city. As the years went by and Keith became pro, clothing, and product offers began to trickle in. To no surprise, Keith stuck with the “HUF” tag for his brand identity, and the rest is history.
Let’s fast forward to 2002 when Hufnagel returned to San Francisco from his global travels and hectic pro-skate life. After everything the skateboarding community and his fans had done for him, Keith decided it was time to give back, so he opened a retail store in the San Francisco Tenderloin District, with the idea of combining skateboarding, sneakers, and streetwear under one roof. Their popularity quickly grew among sneakerheads and the general public, as a hotspot for rare sneakers and streetwear drops. As their popularity was rising, the store slowly started producing their own branded clothing, starting out with simple accessories such as hats and t-shirts, which quickly evolved into a full clothing line and thus HUF was officially born.
Under their new name, HUF started producing their own premium streetwear clothing, HUF shoes, HUF socks and general skateboarding goods and accessories. Keith sees skateboarding as an extension of someone’s lifestyle rather than just a hobby or sport. He believes, that skating brings together all sorts of like-minded people from photographers to musicians, artist, and other creative types.
As creative director for HUF, Keith mostly looked to his travels, American design, and practicality for inspiration. Before anything, comfort and functionality were of most importance when creating skating gear. When the fundamentals were up to the standard it was time to get creative with prints, colors, and fabrics. To this day HUF still reflects this level of quality into every piece. Integrating material and construction techniques from targeted pieces renowned for their durability, HUF’s designs are more than capable of handling the persistent physical barrage associated with skating. Add in some creative graphics, slogans, and color combinations, and the HUF aesthetic is defined.
Although Keith has ventured into various facets of fashion, footwear and accessories production, his love for skating remains the primal drive behind the brand. His prediction for the skateboard and the associated community has not been diminished by the ever-expanding power of the HUF brand, and the opportunities that come along with global recognition. I guess it’s safe to say, the brand isn’t going anywhere anytime too soon.