Interview: Bobby Kim, The Hundreds Co-Founder
Now in the second season, the PUMA x THE HUNDREDS collab continues their mission of “people over product”.
The collection includes a new line of footwear, apparel and accessories designed with sustainability in mind. Each piece from the collection seeks to increase consciousness about how we dress and what we purchase. Using more sustainable materials like recycled rubber and polyester, organic cotton, and chrome-free leather.
California-based The Hundreds was founded in LA in 2003 by Bobby Kim and Ben Shenassafar. It is a classic streetwear brand and a media platform dedicated to global street culture. In a special to Sneakers.me, via PUMA Middle East, Bobby Kim shared his thoughts on the collab, brand values and the evolution of streetwear culture.
Q: Tell us about how the brand got started and the background behind the name “The Hundreds.”
BK: My friend Ben and I started The Hundreds as a lifestyle project in 2003. Over time, the brand has reflected the story of our lives. I wrote a book about it last year called “This Is Not a T-shirt,” and in the process of telling my memoir, I realized that this isn’t so much a clothing company as it is a community. “The Hundreds” is in reference to those people coming together.
Q. Your brand values of “people over product” have continued on as the brand has evolved. What does this mean to you? How have you been able to keep this message alive as the brand has grown and changed over time?
BK: “People over Product” is our mantra. It’s a reminder that everything we do and make begins with a story. And that story begins with a human experience. I’ve always believed that fashion trends go in and out of style, but our personal lives are always relevant and meaningful. So, we do our best to communicate that to the audience, to engage them with our opinions and philosophies. And make it not just about art, but the artist as well.
Q. Was it always your goal to be a streetwear brand? How has the landscape and culture of streetwear evolved since you started?
BK: When we started, there was no set “streetwear” definition or sector of the marketplace. The streetwear that we know and understand today came about from a confluence of subcultures and fashion movements. We never thought our creative project would turn into a global clothing brand, or that 17 years later, we’d be having our best year ever as a company. There was no benchmark at the time – no role model to aspire to be.
Supreme wasn’t a billion-dollar company, streetwear wasn’t dominating the Paris runway. We did it purely out of the love and the curiosity. We did it for the community. But, we never did it for career or wealth, because there was no blueprint back then. It’s funny to think on now, because streetwear has gone mainstream and become synonymous with fashion. Now, young designers can envision building a career or a legacy off of this. I think that’s one of the most noticeable ways that streetwear has evolved and changed. For better and for worse.
Q. You talk a lot about how important collaborations are to you and the creativity of the brand. What made you decide to work with PUMA?
BK: By far, my favorite aspect of PUMA is its history in social activism, subcultures, and being the underdog. Those three branches are also evident in the makeup of The Hundreds.
When we do collaborations, we aim to work with partners who we can empathise with, be inspired by, and learn from. PUMA has a heritage of achieving many of the accomplishments we aspire to have one day.
Q. This second drop with PUMA is a sustainability focused collection with the theme of “a hopeful future.” What does this mean to you?
BK: It’s fascinating because we started working on this project over a year and a half ago and even then, we believed we were living in dark and uncertain times. Then 2020 hits along with the pandemic and massive social upheaval. And there is a desire more than ever to paint a hopeful future, as opposed to a bleak one.
As complicated and challenging the year has been, I find it to be a positive and inspiring time as a nation and world. People who were dismissed are now being heard. Rules are being broken or at the least, re-considered. Now is the time to demand and create real substantive change for the future. The most pressing matter, the direst one that we deal with universally, is that of climate change. And so, we are raising the issue of what a more thoughtful, less wasteful construction looks like in making clothing.
It’s a conversation that we didn’t jump start but are eager to jump into and help push forward.