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PAST AND FUTURE :: PART 1 :: The Story of The Hundreds San Francisco

PAST AND FUTURE :: PART 1 :: The Story of The Hundreds San Francisco

By Bobby Hundreds

PART 1

While Ben and I were opening our first store in LA in 2007, we were already planning for our next destination. Back then, before e-commerce had sunk its teeth in, the true mark of a brand was having physical flagships. San Francisco made sense. It was close – an hour’s flight. But also, SF was moving in our direction as far as streetwear and sneakers were concerned. Pioneer shops like True and Red Five set the stage for a new generation of street fashion.

To test the SF waters, we were invited to a group sample sale featuring only Bay Area brands. We loaded up Ben’s Explorer with boxes of clothes and made the 6 hour drive to San Francisco. The morning of the show, we pulled up to the warehouse and saw a line around the block.

Ben asked the organizer what the commotion was all about and we were surprised to hear that the majority of the kids were there to see us.

We were sold out by the early afternoon and that’s when Ben and I looked at each other and realized San Francisco was ripe for The Hundreds.

LA and SF have this historic rivalry. We were always told that as an LA brand, we’d never make it in the Bay. That day, we realized kids don’t care where you’re from, as long as you make dope shit.

We started making more trips to the city. It was a good three or four visits before Ben found our new home, what used to be an old uniform shop. Post and Taylor sat right on the outskirts of San Francisco’s busy shopping mecca of Union Square. Huf was around the block on Sutter. Goyard was the nearest store down the hill.

We hired our friends Tyler and Spencer to help design the shop. They worked on our first store in LA and knew that—for The Hundreds—narrative and storytelling were most important.

Back at The Hundreds LA, I designed an art installation with two graves outside the store. Skulls and bones and cultural artifacts. They symbolized Ben and I and that our souls were invested in the space. The Hundreds was a total reflection of our lives. We ran with that, multiplying the skulls all over the San Francisco shop. Now, the store wasn’t just representative of Ben and I, but our entire community. The Hundreds wasn’t just our brand, but everyone’s.

“The Hundreds wasn’t just our brand, but everyone’s.”

I thought of ourselves as Peter Pan’s Lost Boys. So we installed Captain Hook’s Skull Rock against the back wall. We also paid homage to Peter Pan’s villain with miniature silver hooks that hung the clothes.

I wanted the store to feel like a theme park ride. Our retail mantra is that we don’t build stores. We build stories. The Pirates of the Caribbean’s boats inspired the accessories showcase. On opening day, we played rollercoaster sounds around the store to mimic the anxious feeling of waiting in line for a ride.

There’s a throughline of timelessness in our brand. We don’t want to be pegged to embarrassing trends or have our clothes time-stamped by a specific era. I want our clothes to make as much sense in ten years as it does today. Same for our flagship stores, so in designing our shops, we took timelessness literally. The Hundreds San Francisco is both past and future. One half of the store is dedicated to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey. There’s even a monolithic mirror.

The rest of the store is encased in rock. It feels almost prehistoric, like you can smell the dampness of the earth. Little known fact, the rock was molded from the quarry where the Gold Rush started over 100 years ago. Streetwear, at the time, felt like a new Gold Rush to us.

Opening Day. March 20, 2008. Kids camped out overnight. We dropped a Hieroglyphics collab as well as a tee with Benny Gold, who was also our first customer. We were literally building up until the moment the $15,000 bomb-proof door slid open. I think, in the end, the store cost us over a half-million dollars to build. It was worth every penny.

The store changed a lot over the years. San Francisco changed.

“Our retail mantra is that we don’t build stores. We build stories.”

We added more lights so people could see what they were buying and eventually opened up the street-facing window. Huf closed, Goyard and Black Scale departed from downtown. Fancy restaurants and upscale apartments moved in. The tech industry and the money it garnered, seemed to swallow up any sense of organic culture left in the city.

As we inched closer to our ten year anniversary in the Bay, and as our decade-long lease was curling up, Ben and I made the difficult decision to not renew.

“Are you sad to close POST?” My friends ask in earnest. Of course! POST was a significant chapter in my life, and I couldn’t tell The Hundreds’ story without it. But, like the store, The Hundreds is both past and future. In the spirit of timelessness, it’s time to move onwards to what’s next.

I’m really proud of us. Ten years is a tall order, especially in this retail climate. How many stores today will last the next ten?

We weren’t supposed to make it in San Francisco—not ten years, not one. Not even one day. We were counted out from the start, but we had something to say. Thank you, San Francisco, for listening for all these years.

Nothing lasts forever. Not streetwear stores. Not even cities. But stories stay with us, especially the timeless ones.

And I hope to tell The Hundreds San Francisco’s story time and again.

I hope you tell it too.

***

Watch PART 2 HERE.

For further reading about POST, check out:

PRE-POST” for Bobby’s full story on the build and concept behind the store.

TOP 10 REASONS I LOVE THSF” by Bobby Hundreds

TH5F” – a blog post by Bobby about our 5th anniversary and what POST represents to him and Ben Hundreds. Young ambition.

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