In the beginning, there was Blog.
I mean, we had chatrooms and Tripod sites in the ’90s, but at the turn of the millennium, Blogger/Blogspot launched and turned the Internet from a library to a stage. We went from looking at the web as an information resource to a platform where we could express ourselves and be heard.
It was ripe timing for me. I was an attention-starved middle child, harboring han as a racial minority. I had so much to say. And so, I published my first blog circa 2000, writing essays about social issues, my fascination with international clothing brands like Evisu and A Bathing Ape, and showing off my art, photography, and sneaker collection. I used to say it was like printing punk ‘zines, but now that I think about it, it was more like how it felt to be a college radio DJ. At my alma mater, UCSD, I had a midnight program where I played only obscure hardcore, indie, and emo music through the campus station. I’d get a few requests a night from a handful of loyal listeners and that was enough. Playing the pop hits for the college mainstream audience was unappealing. I preferred to speak specifically. Kinda like how I’m not good at small, generalized talk in social gatherings. I’d rather move to the corner of the room and deep-dive into meaningful conversations. I’m happy with an audience of one.
When Ben and I started The Hundreds a few years later, the blog was critical. You have to remember, we weren’t trying to start a clothing company. In 2003, we called it a “lifestyle project.” The entire brand was about reflecting our interests, experiences, and opinions. It was less about T-shirts and more about relating as humans. We wouldn’t have had the capital to operate a media channel back then. The only options were television, radio, newspapers and magazines. Even a photocopied ‘zine was costly and limited in reach. The Blog landed in our laps.
For the greater part of a decade, my blog broadcasted the social backbone of this “project.” Our followers loved watching us grow an independent clothing label from scratch. For a generation of entrepreneurs (and those after), we were peers, mentors, and guiding lights. Then, the blog just exploded. We’ll never know if it was causative or correlative, but a series of cultural events in the streetwear scene turned all eyes on me (well, not me personally, but my documentation of this movement). Not only was I there to capture this newest streetwear wave, I was also reporting from the frontlines of Fairfax Ave. in Los Angeles. Supreme LA attracted the Odd Future kids, who hung out in front of Diamond and skated on our street (Rosewood). By the early 2010s, despite a recession, business was booming.
The blog, however, wasn’t. I knew we were in trouble when Twitter broke in the late 2000s. My secret weapon wasn’t so special anymore. Blogging was democratized for all, plus it was easier and faster. “Microblogging” they called it. At least I still had my photography. Then, Instagram entered the room and nailed the coffin shut for the web logging generation.
The technology wasn’t the only thing that had changed. Streetwear changed. The underground still cared about renegade artists, but the mainstream labels spoke to a more surface-level customer. This consumer was largely uninterested in the history and storylines of the logos they adopted. Instead, they championed image, price tags and clout. So if anyone was still checking streetwear websites by then, they were bookmarking hype news sites to stay updated on releases.
Perhaps the most profound contributor to the deceleration of my blog was me. I turned 30 in 2010 and was spending less time on the street and more time in the office. I got married, had children, and was busy being a boss of a growing company. At one point, Ben and I were managing 100 people in our office alone, not to mention staff at our four shops. My role changed and my community required different things of me. And so that first iteration of my blog closed silently.
Of course, The Hundreds’ blog itself never ceased. It’s still being updated throughout the week with interviews, think-pieces, and lists. We just opened it up to new editors and authors who have kept the blood moving through The Hundreds’ veins. The intent has always remained the same – to tell you the stories behind some of our favorite brands, artists, and personalities. Everything we make has a reason and purpose and the blog is a venue for us to talk about them.
So, when people who grew up with my blog tell me “Bring it back!,” I tell them it’s impossible. I can’t bring back an uncharted Fairfax. I can’t make “streetwear” a secret word again. I can’t go back to being a kid on the corner with a camera, with nothing to do but chop stories and discover raw talent. No, that blog is done and gone forever. And, to be honest, I like it that way. There was a time and place for the streetwear blog and it got us – and me – to where we are now. I’m grateful for that.
But, this blog. This blog is something brand new and different and very much needed.
This blog is me at 40. At the start of a global pandemic. In a time where our lives and work are being reduced to rubble. I started off this year in a very bad place and just when I asked, “Can it get any worse?” I got slam-dunked. Many of you know the feeling. If you weren’t there already, you’re here with me now! It’s lonely and scary and ….strange.
This blog feels un-strange to me. The world is out of control, but this blog is under mine. I am going to use this microphone as a bridge. It’s just me and you, like it’s 2 in the morning and I’m playing you a new band I love. I don’t know what I’m going to post here. Probably not a lot of streetwear stuff, sorry. More like loose thoughts, snippets of art that mean something to me, and messages of hope. All in the spirit of connection. We must stay connected, it’s the only thing I know that neutralizes the loneliness and scariness and strangeness.
When I used to blog, because we didn’t have analytics or scorekeeping, I had no idea if anyone was on the other side. I just wrote into the ether, hoping my ideas would land somewhere. And you caught them.
Now, it’s the reverse. I know you’re out there. But, this time, I want you to know that I’m here too.
Let’s take this day by day, together.