On the latest episode of The Masters, Uproxx Style Editor Eli Morgan Gesner sat down with skate legend and HUF founder Keith Hufnagel for what would end up being his final video interview before dying of brain cancer late last month. Despite the sad news of Hufnagel’s death, the interview is full of all sorts of gems for true HUF heads and anyone passionate about skate culture and the streetwear scene. It acts as a bittersweet send-off of an icon, and it’s great to see Hufnagel smiling, joking, and reminiscing on his ascendance from NYC skate rat to world-famous pro to streetwear entrepreneur.
Across nearly twenty minutes, Hufnagel chronicles his early days growing up and exploring the cracked city sidewalks of 1980s New York City, how he stumbled into the streetwear scene after relocating to San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, and how he eventually settled on naming the brand after himself.
“HUF was my tag name,” Hufnagel explains. “I was a semi graffiti kid growing up in New York… When I turned pro I would put HUF on my boards and I was coming up with the fucking worst names for the store… I think I thought about it for weeks… everything on the paper looked like shit so I said ‘lets do it.’”
It’s no surprise that Hufnagel came up with the brand name so organically — every milestone in his storied career grew out of his authentic passion for skate culture. There was never any fakery.
“I just wanted to skate. And, of course, you love skate product because you want to represent and wear things… I’ve been traveling the world, going to LA, New York, Japan, London, all over and I’m like … ‘I love sneaker culture, I love skateboarding and I love streetwear, let’s do that.'”
Other highlights from the interview include an exploration of HUF’s weirdest products, from the HUF x TENGA masturbator to the ridiculous concept behind the now-legendary HUF “weed leaf” socks.
“The whole concept was you go to a party, you take off your shoes at someone’s house, you have these fucking weed socks on and chicks are going to come up to you like ‘I love your fucking socks.’ … It didn’t really take off in the beginning… it was just selling the bare minimum for years. We even talked about not doing it anymore, and then all of a sudden… the next season someone wore them somewhere, and now all of a sudden every kid has to have them… every high school kid wanted them, every girl wanted them… all of a sudden we couldn’t keep up with the demand.”
Watch Eli Gesner chop it up one last time with Keith Hufnagel’s above and catch the rest of The Masters episodes here.