During a recent trip to California, Route One caught up with Keith Hufnagel for this video interview. During the interview Keith touches upon growing up skateboarding in New York and the skateboard culture in New York during the early 90's, the natural progression of HUF going from a retail store to a footwear brand, timeframes for when Dylan Rieder and Austyn Gillette's pro models will drop, as well as reopening a retail store on Fairfax. Check out the video and a preview of the interview below. Click here for the full interview.
Hey Keith, let’s take it back to the early days – How was life growing up skating in NYC?
My friends were skateboarding at the time so I got a board and right away I became addicted to it. I started searching out the skateboarding scene and there was this huge underground scene, as you know, which existed at the Brooklyn Banks and little pockets around the city. I really searched out, became part of that culture and once I found that I was in. All my friends (who were skating) ended up not skating anymore so when they disappeared I just kept going, found new friends who were skaters and that led me to all the other boroughs of New York City.
Did that original group of friends move on from skateboarding, due to changing circumstances, or did they just find a new outlet?
They were just into other things but I was addicted to skateboarding and that was what I was happy with.
The NY skate scene in the late ‘80s – mid ‘90s was so unique, I remember first going there in 1994 and it felt like a totally different vibe to what was happening over in California… what are your best memories from that era?
New York City is all about just getting on your board and just pushing, pushing, pushing and going from spot to spot to spot. There are other cities like that but there’s no city like New York City. Skateboarding there has so much energy and it brings you on a new path every time you put your board down – there are so many things happening and it’s pretty frickin’ amazing!
Back then all we did was push and hop on the train, which was so easy, like London – it’s very similar. When you grow up pushing around a city I think it makes you a different type of skater because you’re using your legs more and more, you’re ollie-ing up every little thing that’s around so you’re creating a different type of skateboarding. Sometimes some skaters will just show up at a spot and skate that actual ledge or something like that but with city skating you gotta duck and weave, things are coming at you, traffic, people and all sorts.
From NYC to LA you’re probably more famous as a resident of SF – what prompted your move out West in the first place?
Yes, I did a long time in San Francisco. When I moved out there in ‘92 San Francisco was the mecca for skateboarding – it was Embarcadero, the place to be. I wanted to be part of skateboard culture so I chose San Francisco to skate Embarcadero, to skate the hills, to be in with this new type of skateboarding.
Who were you hanging with at Embarcadero in those early days? I grew up with Keenan in New York but I met Carroll out there, Mike York, Karl Watson, Kelch and all the REAL crew; Jim Thiebaud, Tommy Guerreo, Kelly Bird. All the people living there became friends.
Is that how you ended up in FTC’s ‘Finally’?
Yeah I was part of FTC back then, I was hanging out there. When I moved to San Francisco I was riding for FUN, Ron Allen’s company, who I rode for a while before I quit and I ended up getting with REAL. I’ve been on REAL since 1993 and I would hang out at FTC and get my extra things there.