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Back at Agenda, I talked to Anne Freeman, who is one of the founding partners at Huf, along with professional skateboarder Keith Hufnagel, for whom the company is named.
Huf is an interesting brand. It started as skate boutique in San Francisco, and now has three locations, a growing wholesale clothing business, and a new footwear line that is getting a lot of press on skate and footwear fashion sites like Radcollector and Hypebeast.
Hufnagel and Freeman opened the first Huf store in 2002 on Sutter Street above the Tenderloin District in San Francisco where they were both living at the time.
Freeman said when they opened their first location, the two founders had no master plan of expansion.
Hufnagel just wanted a place where he could buy the best skate brands all under one roof, and eventually they started making branded T’s and branded hats, which quickly gained a huge following.
(Right: The Huf store in Los Angeles.)
In 2005, demand started to exceed supply and Huf needed a reason to justify the costs of designing and making its own products.
The partners also launched another store in San Francisco a year prior, so in 2005, they started a wholesale business, selling only to 20 accounts worldwide that had similar characteristics of Huf’s San Francisco stores.
The first shops they sold to include Collette in Paris, Kicks in Hawaii, Saint Alfred’s in Chicago, and DQM in New York. Huf kept its distribution to just 20 doors for a few years, and eventually expanded as demand grew.
Today, the brand, which is under $5 million in revenue, sells its wholesale line to more than 200 doors around the U.S. and in several boutiques around the globe.
While bigger chains have asked for its products, the brand has stayed true to its strategy of only selling to core doors.
“We have people like Zumiez and PacSun really interested in our brand, but we just aren’t interested in going there at this time,” said Freeman.
“We want to make sure we take care of our employees and teams, but dollars is not our end goal; we are all about honoring where we came from and giving back. One of the best ways to give back is supporting small boutiques and skate shops. That’s the plan for now,” she said.
On page 2: More on stores and shoes