Global skate and fashion brand Huf has recently opened its latest retail location in Brooklyn, New York, at 80 North 3rd Street in Williamsburg. It is its second New York store and its exterior features artwork from renowned Brooklyn-based graffiti artist Eric Haze, a longtime friend of the brand.
The store exclusively sells a range of limited-edition Huf Brooklyn T-shirts, only available at this new retail location and also the signature Huf New York “Big Apple” art piece designed in collaboration with Japanese artist Haroshi.
Founded by professional skateboarder Keith Hufnagel in 2002, Huf is a line made by skateboarders for skateboarders, and is sold internationally through 14 standalone stores–making Brooklyn the brand’s 15th location–and carried in retailers in 59 countries. Hufnagel and Huf CEO Eddie Miyoshi have made plans for further retail expansion into several new locations for 2020, including Asia, San Francisco and additional stores in Los Angeles where the brand is currently based.
Miyoshi explained the company's vision, expansion projects and why skateboarding will remain a staple in youths’ wardrobe, despite passing fashion trends.
What do you think of the fashion, streetwear, and skateboard apparel market situation?
I can’t speak to traditional fashion, but in terms of streetwear, I can say that the market seems to have begun a slowdown in the mass appeal to streetwear. It’s hard to say if it's just a part of the overall slowdown we are seeing in global consumer spending or if it’s just an oversaturation of the market. Depending on your definition of streetwear and to what tier of influence you may be looking at (traditional vs luxury) I would say that the market will just evolve and those with a weak foundation and an inability to evolve with integrity will disappear. In terms of skate, we will continue to evolve. The skate influence in streetwear, or even the streetwear influence into skate, seems to have transitioned skate apparel into a more sophisticated category. Brands can no longer just print a logo on a cheap tee anymore. The bar is a lot higher, higher in terms of what is expected in product, and what is expected in perceived value of influence. I think that as the influence of streetwear or mass skate appeal may contract, and fashion evolves into something else, in the end streetwear and skate apparel will always be a staple to the true demographic of a young consumer, seeking to form an identity through cultural identification.
This is the second store you are opening in New York. Will you open others?
Absolutely. The key to any brand’s evolution in today’s age is controlling the space and the ability to resonate a compelling story at quality touch points. Huf stores allow us to control the space and create that dialogue, it allows us to create that viral integrity for the brand and provide value to our wholesale business. We have five stores opening in the next six to seven months, all of which are centered around arts districts and cultural community spaces. The list of locations are Deep Ellum in Dallas, RiNo in Denver, Mission in San Francisco, Santa Monica (California) and Chicago. In addition, we have entered a refresh for our two existing locations in Fairfax in Los Angeles and SoHo in New York.
What are your stores’ bestselling items and why?
It’s actually been an evolution. At first it was more partnered collaborations and drops, which still do great numbers. However, most recently it has been evolving to local and exclusive store tees and product.
I feel as the brand resonates internationally and as we start activating these stores within the community, we are seeing both locals and inbound tourists wanting that special product that connects them to the experience of the moment, that product they know that can’t get elsewhere. [It’s] specific product that connects them to the brand and that moment, whether on vacation or just shopping in their local community.
Do your customers buy according to their favorite style or impulse?
I actually hope it’s by impulse, leading to a favorite style. You know you are telling a great story if the minute you walk into a store, you are compelled to buy something, anything. Where the experience is so strong, you need to have some association to the brand. Then, as you spend more time in the space, you start to narrow that down in a favorite selection.
How important is the communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
As I already mentioned, our customer is a specific age demographic. So with every generation, their values and motivations shift. So for Huf to remain relevant we need to evolve with them. The only way to achieve this is by listening and holding constant dialogue with our customers. For us it’s through strategic touch points, whether that be at point of sale (retail, wholesale, e-comm), social media or event activation and peer to peer contact through our tastemakers and athletes. Communication is the machine that paves our paths.
How does your store differ from others?
It’s a hard question to answer, since we are in the process of evolving our space with each rollout. I can say that with each space, we try to incorporate a community and a story. With community, it stems from our roots in skate; we encourage a space where kids can feel comfortable hanging out. Each territory location supports a local shop team, seating area to chill and a gathering space. As for the aesthetics behind the space, it’s about the story. Every Huf store incorporates some type of art and a gallery feel. From the skate inspired fixtures, artist sculptures, skate hard goods and footwear sections, we want to communicate the values of our brand and our culture.
How important is the interior, the atmosphere, and the whole package of your store?
Critical! It’s not a secret that experience has become synonymous with successful retail. I encourage anyone associated to a brand to read Doug Stephens’ book Reengineering Retail. It tells a story of how stores have become the marketing faucet of the brand, and how critical the collective experiment is with every consumer touchpoint.
What do you like about your customers?
We cater to an ever evolving and passionate demographic, the 18- to 26-year-old.
The most creative and influential period of our lives are spent in this position of adulthood. I love listening to the constantly evolving motivations and dynamics of this age group. I love the challenge of aligning to the creative aspirations and critical demands of this target age demographic. Our customers truly make us who we are and motivate us to keep moving forward.
80 North 3rd Street
Brooklyn, NY 11249
+1 347 987 4186