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In April of 2019, HUF founder Keith Hufnagel announced the brand would no longer be producing footwear. Citing high production costs and a lack of meeting his meticulous quality standards, the brand’s shoe program ended leaving their deep roster of riders footwear free agents. “Footwear is such a small business for us and it just doesn’t work to make it to our standards,” Hufnagel told Jenkem Magazine. “There’s so much that goes into making footwear, including cost. We’ve been doing it for 8 years and I feel like it stayed in the same place. It became a clutch where I couldn’t work with a Vans, Nike, or adidas because we could no longer be a partner.”
Despite deading the program, HUF’s doubled down on apparel, making good on the promise that freeing up those resources would make the brand more nimble. The biggest splash was adding Mason Silva to the squad in February of 2020, along with releasing a team video filmed in Puerto Rico. Bolstering their product offering by including a successful womenswear category and continuing their stream of stylized video projects, HUF’s larger goal was to enhance the retail experience. By expanding their footprint to Brooklyn, NY and back to San Francisco, California where the brand began in 2002, Hufnagel’s a believer of the power of brick-and-mortar, specifically, the spirit of skate shops.
Prior to the emergence of COVID-19, getting the San Francisco location open was hectic due to strict local legislature that viewed the brand as a retail chain due to their number of global locations, rather than a small business. Still, Hufnagel developed the space formerly occupied by Benny Gold. Then more bad news hit. The brand’s Los Angeles, California location on Fairfax was looted during the ongoing George Floyd protests, damaging a large Haroshi “Middle Finger” piece showcased in the center of the store. Despite the high pricetag sculpture being damaged, HUF quickly pivoted to positivity, creating a HUF x Haroshi Justice Tee and deck, ultimately raising $136,820 for Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.
As the brand stays resilient during the pandemic, its latest nocturnal video venture by Tyler Smolinski is a reminder that visuals are the brand’s strength and message.
DOT features Justin Drysen, Mason Silva, Dick Rizzo, Nick Matthews, Salomon Cardenas, Dan Plunkett, Brad Cromer, Matt Gottwig and Caleb McNeely cast against cityscapes in black-and-white, displaying Dirtbag Crew power and precision.
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