FNG Magazine recently caught up with Keith Hufnagel and discussed the skateboard scene in New York during the early 90's, The challenges and inspirations involved with running a brand, as well as the re-opening of the HUF store in Los Angeles. Check out a preview below, and click here to read the full interview.
Please Keith tell us something about those days.. about skateboarding and style, about the people, the city, the stuff was going on…
NYC was where I grew up. I didn’t really know anything different, except that I was in the best city in the world. I started skateboarding young and became instantly addicted. My friends and I all grew up in or around Manhattan, and we would skate around every borough just pushing spot to spot all day, searching out all the hidden pockets of the city— in that sense, I got to see the city in a really unique way. Because of the areas we ventured into, and the people and situations we encountered, we were able to experience a lot at a young age, and connect with tons of other skaters. Looking back I feel very lucky to have been brought up there when I was. It was a special time, not only for skateboarding, but also for the culture we live in today, from art to music to fashion.
Back then, everyone used to end up at the Brooklyn Banks. We would session the banks and chill at the spot, hanging out for hours on end. It was like a second home for some of us.
And although everything revolved around skateboarding, it was also about an eclectic mix of people hanging out together and doing what they loved, sharing the same experience. Skateboarding seemed to transcend different races and upbringings, and I met many of my closest friends during that time. The days portrayed in this video really helped shape me into the person I am today.
From here, the tiny Italia, it looks like the whole skateboarding world is growing fast right now.. for sure there are more kids on the streets, more internet stuff and more companies every year. What is your vision of the Zeitgeist, from Skateland?
Skateboarding is going through a crazy period right now, changing so rapidly everyday. Without a doubt, technology and the Internet has had a lot to do with how different things are compared to the way it was when I was growing up. Back then, you waited a while for the new skate videos and magazines to come out to learn what was going on outside of your immediate surroundings, for the new tricks your favorite pros were doing. Nowadays there’s social media and content sites pumping out a feed of new material, and you can see what’s going on anywhere at anytime. It’s rad because of how democratizing the Internet has made everything in a sense… everything is now free—immediate access to all the new happenings. There’s a surge of independent skate videos, brands even, which are able to make a presence in the industry without the bells and whistles of a big budget. I think that’s awesome.
On the flip side, though, some of the more organic elements of skating may be getting lost in the rush. Kids feed off this or that new crazy trick or combo, they watch live streams on TV. But I think there has to be a balance as well, a development that happens just skating around with friends, feeding off each other. Not to say that isn’t still there, but it seems to be bypassed much easier these days. Skateboarding has been, and always will be, about innovation and progression, but it’s also important to develop a strong foundation, to learn the basics first, and build from there. Kids nowadays see everything at once, and can basically do anything and everything at once as well. I think it has to come to a point where it’s not so much about what tricks you can do, but how you do them.