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Stores December, 7 2012

Bobby Hundreds Talks About Bringing Outside Brands to The Hundreds Santa Monica

In perhaps some of the most groundbreaking news to come out of The Hundreds this year, for the first time ever, the California label is inviting outside brands and friends into it’s retail doors. We caught up with Bobby Hundreds to learn more about this new development.

So at The Hundreds Santa Monica, you are for the first time ever, stocking outside brands in one of your stores, why did you decide to take this step? And why Santa Monica specifically?

It actually didn’t make sense NOT to. The Hundreds is founded upon supporting our community, the friends and brands that make up our secret little universe. When you come to our website, or if you follow my Instagram, the majority of the content is spotlighting other people and their work. As much as we like to big-up ourselves, it’s just as important for us to raise awareness for the Streetwear marketplace. I mean, we have an industry news feed (The Feed) dedicated to bringing attention to people and product we’ve never even met, but for the fact that we admire their work.

So why is it that when you walk in a The Hundreds store, it’s just about us? Once we considered that, the answer was clear. Our shop should exist as a platform to discuss, educate our customers, and promote the brands we respect and love.

Santa Monica is the perfect opportunity to do it because we have the most space, and we also aren’t stepping on any other multi-branded stores’ toes within our vicinity. It’s in our backyard and was easy for us to test the waters.

Carrying other brands isn’t something new in our culture by any means but it’s a first for you. How do think this move will change your retail environment?

I think it will open us up to a new customer who isn’t used to The Hundreds, as well as acclimate our core customers to other brands they may not be aware of.

If you take a look around, the idea of a single-branded shop is so 2003. Even J.Crew carries Saturdays and Converse shoes. The Internet perspective has affected everyone’s “salad bar” mentality of picking and choosing what they want in life, and to enhance your retail experience, you need to provide options. Brand loyalty is passé, it’s more about diversifying and staying open-minded to all brands (which is awesome for competition and the marketplace, but makes our job as brands more difficult!).

Are you at all concerned that this move will dilute the TH message within your retail spaces?

Not at all. As I was saying, The Hundreds’ philosophy is one of community. We realize that Streetwear is not just about us, but it’s beauty is rounded out by the participation of all these players. A friend of ours is a friend of yours. If you like The Hundreds enough to enter our doors, then we hope you trust us to show you some other stuff that we are personally fans of.

How has your customer changed over the years?

I don’t know if our customer has changed as much as the world has changed in general. When we started, the Internet’s role in a brand experience was minimal, but now it is near everything. Our original supporters were individuals who remembered a world without the web. And now it’s the reverse, where their entire lives have been distorted via web. I think Streetwear has gone through a lot as well, whereas it was once a very private and subversive movement, it is now whored out through volume/discount-based online superstores and on the backs of mainstream rappers who have dropped the urban apparel. Nothing is better or worse, it’s just different. And that, to me, is exciting and a new challenge every day.

If I’m not mistaken, you’d count the owners of each of the brands you’re carrying as friends, mentors or both. Is this the main factor in choosing the labels? Or is it something more complex?

That is a large factor in how we bought for The Hundreds Santa Monica. But Ben and I had to take a step back and really think as fans. For example, take the Only brand, we have never met these guys nor communicated with them. We have admired from afar, and had to go through mutual connects to get Micah’s email and propose our idea. So that’s it, really, we are just fans of what all these guys (and girl) are doing, and we wholeheartedly believe that this is the best of the best.

How would you describe your buying patterns for the brands you are stocking? Is it the full collection, pieces TH doesn’t offer in their own collection, or is the criteria different?

For every brand it’s different, but we played to everyone’s strengths (or what we considered those to be). We aren’t at the capacity now to where we could just sweep through everyone’s offerings, we had to be very strategic and conscious in the decisions we were making. How would it complement not only The Hundreds, but the other brands we were putting them up against, how will the piece fare in Santa Monica, a touristy beachtown of Los Angeles,… that sorta thing. And we didn’t go deep, we wanted to keep up the exclusivity and limited feel of the merchandise. That is an important characteristic of Streetwear that has to resonate through the shopping experience.

Do you have plans to expand this philosophy to all of your retail outlets, or offer other brands through your online store?

The answer is yes.

What are your thoughts on the current state of streetwear retail as a whole?

Streetwear has it’s work cut out for it. The brands who have managed to survive over the past decade are now in a position to take it to the next level. The mainstream is starting to catch on, as well as the mall customer. But can your infrastructure handle it? Do you want to stay true to your independent roots or open it up? And at this point, it takes money to make more money… where is it coming from? It’s a lot of boring, business questions, but they make and break brands.

It is most challenging for the next chapter of Streetwear brands. Some of my favorites are CLSC, Born X Raised, and Stray Rats. After our generation passed through, it’s been nearly impossible for anyone else to come up, and for years I couldn’t figure out why that was. The reality is that everyone’s attention span is so depleted, compounded by the fact that the Internet expedites a brand’s longevity. The result is that most new brands don’t stand a chance. They can break through quicker, but blow out faster. Fast rise = fast demise. And the name of Streetwear’s game is all about “Slow and steady wins the race.” What happens when the racetrack is sped up under your feet? Can you keep up?

And with retail, it’s all online. It’s not even on your desktop, it’s in your pocket. Plus, it’s not even just headed there, it IS there. So that’s a completely different game from a brick-and-mortar situation, one that involves mobile and apps and social media and all of these things that traditional retail never weathered.

Again, I have to reiterate though, that it is all very exciting and challenging and we at The Hundreds are up for it.

If this announcement/interview were to have a soundtrack what would it be?

Well, as I’m answering this, I’m listening to the new Mogwai on Spotify, so I guess thats it!

SSUR. Fuct. Hall of Fame. CLOT. Married to the Mob. Gourmet. Only. CLSC.

Now available at THSM, 416 Broadway, Santa Monica, California.

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