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#Chatroom with Bobby Hundreds (The Hundreds)

Posted by Meenakshi Singh on

Capsul’s #CHATROOM is a community generated digital Interview series featuring industry leaders, streetwear & sneaker enthusiasts, artists, skaters and the like.

Check out what Bobby Hundreds had to say about his expectation of Indian streetwear, favourite food, starting a brand, collaborations and what future entrepreneurs and community builders should keep in mind.

Q1. What made you get into streetwear? Varsha (@_offcolour_)

I love streetwear because it’s inclusive. It’s not just THIS or THAT, it’s everything and meant for everyone - all genders, all backgrounds and interests. It doesn’t discriminate.

When we were starting out, most youth clothing was divided into binary classifications like “Skate” (white kids) or “Urban” (black kids). Meanwhile Ben and I are the shades of grey in between! So, I’m glad that streetwear provided a space for the rest of us to exist!

Q2. Who, according to you, were the most pivotal players in the early days of streetwear, and why? Manpreet (@manpreetkaur15)

Everyone has their opinions as to what streetwear is, how it’s defined, and who created it. For me, I look to the following figures: Rick Klotz, Eli Bonerz, Hikaru Iwanaga, Craig Steckyk, Jay Adams, Nigo, and Shawn Stussy amongst others.

Q3. What’s the impact of logos in streetwear? Ajit (@nerdserd)

As far as the impact of the logo in streetwear, I’m proud to say that it’s one of the most recognizable icons in street fashion. I never imagined that could happen when I initially drew Adam Bomb in my apartment a decade and a half ago.

Q4. Since you’ve gone through the whole curve of the rise (and fall) of streetwear, what do you see happening in a market like india? Bhavisha (@bhavishad)

I’ll be honest. I’m not educated enough on India’s market to know.

I do know that India is the future of the world, meanwhile it is also born of struggle.

One of my truths is that creativity comes from struggle. You need resistance, oppression, overcoming and survival to provide the soil for artistry and ingenuity to grow. And so, in that way, I am excited for how India interprets streetwear over the coming generations. I really do believe that it is the next and most promising frontier of street culture.

Q5. What is your advice for someone who wants to start a streetwear brand? Aditya (@adinikale)

Contrary to what you are being told out there, there’s not a ridiculous amount of money or opportunity in this space. So make sure you are passionate about the culture and the brand-building. There’s a very strong chance that you barely break even, if you make any profit at all. Are you willing to put in the struggle with a high risk of losing money? If so, then streetwear is for you.

Q6. What elements go into your design when you collaborate with a sneaker brand? Jeffery (@jeffery26stephen)

All of our design begins with a story - and an opinion.

We have something to say, and we find an interesting and entertaining way to package it. We hope that people leave not only with a cool looking shoe, but having learned something. Gained insight. And met someone new in the process (even as a fan).

Q7. What’s the design process for a collab? Who designs what? Meenakshi (@travelintrunk)

Well, every collab is different. The deals are different - sometimes they’re heavy duty contracts. Sometimes they’re written down on a cocktail napkin!

As far as who designs, that’s also specific to each arrangement. Sometimes it’s just us, sometimes it’s the partner, but the best collabs are the ones where we go back and forth on the design together.

Q8.How do you decide who you want to collaborate with?

First, there must be a proper story to tell. Second, we need to get along with the people we’re working with. We invest in humans, not brands. The best collaborations are those where we are working together with friends.

Q9. How do you go about networking and how do you start networking in the target segment? Abhi (@grootabhi)

Networking is a fancy word for building relationships. That’s all it is. And if you have good social skills, which come from a place of earnestly being interested in another person, you will have no problem forming networks within your community. Make friends. Ask how people are doing. Help them where needed. This is how you weave your web.

Q10. How is The Hundreds different from your contemporary streetwear brands? Meghatithi Paul (@meghatithi_paul)

I don’t pay too much attention to what anyone else is doing, so I can only speak to what we do and who we are. I think what makes our brand special is that it’s so intrinsically tied to our personal stories. You can trace the entirety of our careers and experiences through the seasons of this brand. And because there’s such a personal nucleus to The Hundreds, there’s a strong and thick community surrounding it. That’s what makes us the most unique.

Q13. In your interview on Complex’s The Blueprint, your leg was in a cast. What’s the story? Omran (@omran23)

I broke my leg on our skate ramp out back!

Haha - just my luck.

Q14. What gave you the push to pursue your passion instead of your law practice? Radhika (@radhikaprasad)

I strongly suggest you read a chapter in my book called “Abe.”

Abe, who was the lawyer I worked for in law school - was the primary reason why I decided to dive completely into building a brand.

Q15. Have you ever thought about going back into law? Ajit (@nerdserd)

Haha, no way.I technically never went IN to law, outside of law school and some internships. If anything, I’d explore it from a social justice approach.

Q16. What’s the inspiration behind your logo? Priya Rangan (@priya_rangan)

The Hundreds was founded on our childhood, growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and Saturday morning cartoons were a big part of that - namely Looney Tunes, where the cartoon bomb was prevalent in the Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner episodes.

If you notice, the bomb also never explodes - and that was a metaphor for how we approached our brand strategy. We wanted to be just under the mainstream of blowing up and blowing out.

Q17. There were some stories that back in the day you guys used to lie to shop managers to get them to sell your stuff. How true is that? Akhil (@akhilthirucovela)

Haha - not all of them. There is a chapter in my book where we convinced the first store to give us a shot by having our friends go in and buy the shirts with our own money. We took that traction and energy and convinced other store buyers to pick up the brand, and the name association was enough to build energy around The Hundreds.

Q18. What makes a consumer choose your products over competitors? Kaif (@ka1f_)

First, the design. I think that’s the primary thing that attracts any customer.

But secondarily, the storytelling. I believe that there’s a rich layer of storytelling infused in every piece we make. And that it translates and carries over to the person buying it.

Q19. When you were starting off, how did you decide your pricing strategy? Andy (@andystylo_)

We’ve always priced our product in a way to make it hurt just a little bit to buy it. We don’t make a ton of volume in our offerings. We use the best possible quality materials and construction. And yet, we also want The Hundreds to be as accessible to someone who wants it as possible. So, somewhere between there!

Q20. What makes Ben’s and your partnership work so well? Meenakshi (@travelintrunk)

Great question. I think we have a mutual respect for each other and for The Hundreds.

All great relationships stem from Respect.

In love, in business, in friendship.

As soon as the Respect is gone, the relationship withers away.

Q21. What’s your favourite collab till date?

That is always the hardest question to answer! So now I just say - whatever the last one was…which, was The Hundreds X Blue the Great.

Q22.How many collaborations has The Hundreds done till date?

Oh, we lost count years ago. It’s gotta be in the thousands!

Q23. Any sneaker collabs in the future? Gunjit (@thetallguy15)

Great question. Yes, we have a series of Pumas coming out for 2020. They should have been rolling out already, but unfortunately, the Coronavirus had other plans for our campaign!

Q26.Tell us your top 3 favourite f&b spots in the world

Park’s BBQ in Koreatown, Los Angeles

Cholada Thai along PCH, Los Angeles

A tie between: The Delhi Club, Hong Kong and Badmaash, Los Angeles

Q27. Are you and Ben involved only in The Hundreds and Family Feast? Or do you have other business’, or involvement as well? Bhavisha (@bhavishad)

Yes, we have many other businesses. We are partners in some popular streetwear brands (that I can’t divulge). We also own real estate together, are partners in a tradeshow, restaurants, and a bar. As well as some upcoming projects (outside of fashion) I can’t wait to reveal soon!

Q28. How long did it take you to write “This Is Not A T-Shirt”? Haya Hamza (@hayahamza)

It’s kinda hard to answer that question because the actual writing is not the difficult part. Perhaps, all in, I’d say about 4-5 months? The overall process, however, deals with edits and revisions, waiting on my publisher, contracting, marketing and production,…. in sum, the timeline spanned 2 years.

Q29. Do you like watching sport? What’s your favourite team and franchise? James (@thebeardedbat)

Yes, I love certain sports, although I grew up more interested in boardsports like skating, snowboarding, and surfing.

I enjoy soccer/football. And I like watching the NBA. I’m from LA, so I’m torn between the Lakers and Clippers. But when I was growing up, I loved the Chicago Bulls!

Q30. Is there a process to follow or any requirements to launch a brand? Meghna (@mynamejeff.xd)

Yes and No. I think it’s wise to see and learn how prior generations did it. You can gain that wisdom by reading my book or interning for another brand. But you must first know the rules before you break the rules - and this is where I suggest that you do it your way. Your story will be unique to your personal history and worldviews and philosophy. As well as the context of the time you’re living in.

Q31.How does a local brand go international? How do we reach out to stockists? Jay (@jayjajal)

In our era, we had tradeshows to meet international buyers. Today, it’s as easy as gaining notoriety online through social channels and then sliding into DMs. Seriously, it’s that simple.

Q32.How do you get your brand or your work through to different viewers, when they have a different mindset or view point? Neha (@neh_aa_)

I’m not totally sure if I understand your question (Sorry) - but I don’t think you should worry about what anyone else thinks. Passion is universal. As long as the viewer can sense and appreciate how much you care about what you are talking about (and that comes down to how you communicate that passion), then he/she will pick up on your vibe. Think of the designers and brands you’re into, where the owners don’t speak your language. Yet, you love their art just the same.

Q33. I want to reach out to you as an artist, show you my works. How do I reach you? Big fan Shantanu (@shantanu_hazarika_art)

If you lived in the States, I could tell you to text me at 323) 310-2844.Outside of that, your best bet is to send me a Direct Message. I’m really sorry, but I answer hundreds to thousands of messages a day (!), so I can’t get to everyone’s requests. I do my best, though!

Q34.How do you commercialise art? And how do brand collaborations impact in the long run?  Shantanu (@shantanu_hazarika_art)

There is always a delicate balance between commerce and art, and to be honest, I don’t know how well I’ve mastered it. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible to master it entirely - it’s always a pursuit.

The thing is - the moment you put a price tag on art, you are compromising some of its integrity. But, there should also be an understanding that the art doesn’t belong to yourself alone - that it is meant to be shared with the world. I always say, “Great artists don’t make themselves look better. They try to make the world look better.”

Brand collaborations are helpful in telling stories - not just of other brands and artists you’re working with, but of yourself. To reflect the nuance and complex character of your OWN story.

Q35.Do you have a go-to favourite Indian dish?

I can name off a bunch of different critical dishes, but what I’ve realized is that if I don’t have a side of raita, then I can’t enjoy anything else. I always need raita!

Q36.What are your thoughts on people’s spending habits post Corona. Do you think they will be spending less on clothes? Amith (@_amith11)

No, I don’t think so. In fact, clothing sales seem to be up for a lot of direct-to-consumer business. I’m actually of the mindset that much of our prior life will resume once the virus cools down.

Q37. How do you think the current global scenario is going to affect the streetwear and apparel industry? Ajit (@nerdserd)

Well, it has already affected wholesale business by a lot. Retail stores have either shuttered temporarily or forever, and that takes a lot of the energy out of streetwear and fashion in general.

I think more business will be moving online in the interim. But, I also believe that over time, retail fronts will get popular again. As much as we’ve convinced ourselves over this pandemic that it is nice to be isolated and home, we as humans are wired for connection and experience. We are starved for community, and once we are let back out into the population, people will want physical stores more than ever before.