The Bigger Picture: The Hundreds Block Party

As some of you may have heard, The Hundreds Block Party was canceled at the last minute by the LAPD, with no help from the city council. I have long been an admirer of what these guys have done, are doing and will do next. I am sure the brand represents many things to many people, but since I am a person who is totally committed to teaching, inspiring and otherwise illuminating the lives of young people, I see Bobby Hundreds as one of the best. Let me also be clear: I am not talking about steering kids away from drugs or any of that holier-than-thou shit. That is not the type of ‘illumination’ I am talking about. I am talking about showing kids where things come from. Sources of inspiration. The path less traveled. To respect their elders – the elders being the skaters that did it first. The musician who created the music sampled for the beat your favorite rapper is rhyming over. The guy who opted out of college but was never lacking in determination to succeed. I feel that Bobby Hundreds does something similar through his brand. Bobby uses a brand, and at the most basic level, t-shirt designs often to inform. To teach. He knows the members of his movement, and at the same time has a strong perspective worth sharing. Like I said… the brand represents many things to many people. It is almost the very definition of a brand. Some see things on the surface, and others see more.

So with that less-than-brief wind up, let me share the letter I was inspired to write to two LA City Councilmen that unfortunately took the path of least resistance to the detriment of something far greater than a Block Party.

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John, Paul,

First, I must say that I am not a resident of Los Angeles. If anything, I make that point to demonstrate how far your recent actions regarding the The Hundreds Block Party actually extend. I was inspired to write this after seeing your response and reading the very believable perspective of The Hundreds. I was left thinking… We elect our politicians for what they can do for our immediate communities, but we could all benefit from public servants with vision that expands beyond their very narrow district lines. I encourage your to take the macro-perspective here:

Why, in these screwed up times of uncertainty and a perceived lack of hope, would you let the small voices of a few allow you to silence one of the city’s most positive and inspirational events for young people? These kids are not just attending the block party for cheap fun, food and music. This event is rooted in an incredibly positive and creative movement that has blossomed into something life-altering for many young kids – completely motivational and inspiring. As I am sure you are well aware, kids are feeling failed by traditional routes of ‘success’ these days. Even the more affluent kids are finding themselves struggling with college debt and dismal job market. Young people are jaded and clinging on to anything that feels positive and instills just the slightest bit of hope for the future. What you may view as a few hundred feet of retail space on an LA side street is actually very positive beacon in the community serving to keep kids away from lives of drugs and other crime your voters seek to eliminate – not through any sort of shallow message, but through their positive community actions as very proud LA residents and as global citizens. But this letter is not about crime by any stretch. It is about the future. These actions that embody The Hundreds movement have global impact – as you can probably tell from your inbox right now. I am writing your from New York City. 34 years old. Mentor to many, many young people. And I develop programs that impact even more. When I try to inspire young people, or show them the positive things in the world, it is actions such as yours that make my job harder.

I put myself in the shoes of my good friend in Los Angeles. He is another entertainment executive who is the father of a young kid, who have both attended the absolutely trouble-free, all smiles event that is The Hundreds Block party since inception. What does he tell his child? He cannot tell her what you have told us. Even she would know that it is simply a lie. What do you suggest he tells her?

It would be wrong for me to lie to my friends, family, employers, clients, and to you… So why should any young kid, clinging to something positive in your city, the country, and the world… Kids that have saved their very hard earned money and purchased airline tickets to attend this event, find your statement below acceptable:

I understand your frustration at the cancellation of the Hundreds Block Party. However, due to past and current public safety issues, the Los Angeles Police Department recommended against it.

Perhaps, next year, if the sponsor plans ahead and works with the police to plan a safe, neighborhood friendly event, there won’t be a problem.

Teachers, artists, musicians, other community leaders, and even young business people such as the those at The Hundreds are working hard light fires of inspiration in young people. To alter their spirits and viewpoints in a positive way. Please don’t continue to be the people whose actions only extinguish those fires. I am confident you don’t want that on your record. Nobody does. You have both chosen to serve your great city, and you deal with far more complicated things on a daily basis. This one was easy. A conversation with The Hundreds. A thumbs up. Maybe a difficult conversation with an unhappy business owner. It is your responsibility to understand and be able to articulate the positive implications of this event with your constituents, not just the ‘potential’ negative ones, which nobody but yourself and the LAPD seem to be aware of. Sorry for the long message. Please don’t be the reason for another hiccup in what will likely be a decades-long tradition – with or without you.

As you may have heard… THE HUNDREDS IS HUGE.

Robby Wells

2008 Predictions… A Look Back

Last year, actually towards the end of 2007, I made some streetwear predictions. As an industry outsider, I deserve a little freedom to get things wrong, but they were not really all that bad. I put together this super slick excel spreadsheet that factors in posts from Hypebeast, Selectism, and other blogs and media outlets coupled with photo sites like Cobrasnake and Last Nights Party to give me a ‘Percentage Accurate” with 100% meaning I nailed it. It is easy to make predictions every year, because NOBODY ever goes back to see how they did. I have nothing to lose, so I did:

Prediction 1
Bulky, dirty sneakers will complement tight jeans. Think Jordan 6-10s with skinny jeans on hipsters. Note: This is not a sneaker-head thing… more of a waify, pasty hipster thing. Hipsters will rebel against the current trend of wearing women’s Keds.

Calculation: 72.5% Accuracy. According to a sweep of major blogs and photo sites, everyone from Lil Wayne to 12 year old skate kids were wearing skinny jeans with bulky high-tops, but they were not necessarily dirty. Keds and the like were still spotted with relatively high frequency on pasty hipsters.

Prediction 2
The lines between streetwear and luxury will continue to blur. The more mature streetwear kids will step their game up, which will no doubt require new jobs. Nigo has been spotted in a vest/tie/jacket combo more in the last 3 months of 2007 than in the last 10 years. You’ll hear streetwear kids rattle off high-end designers/labels with ease.

Calculation: 90.5% Accuracy. Shit! Have you looked at Hypebeast lately. You could slap a Brooks Brothers (shit, even lower, a J Crew) logo on some of the items featured and nobody would question it. This would have been 100%, but the number of new consumers entering the space offset the older streetwear kids’ effort to move towards more luxury to a small degree. Yes, there were a ton new luxury brands that became must-haves, but unfortunately, far too many brands still spit out nothing but t-shirts and New Eras.

J Crew? The Gap? Merona? Nope, it’s a brand called Useless (from Hypebeast).

Prediction 3
Legacy will be the dominant theme of 2008. Brands with a real history will reign supreme. Think Levis, Vans, Stussy, Reebok, Carhartt, etc. The hot new-ish brands will stick around, but nobody will be excited about new brands, and nobody will want to endorse them. That is not to say that new brands won’t give it a shot, but it will not be pretty. Hypebeast has already reached total laughable status.

Calculation: 80.25% Accuracy. According to the spreadsheet, all of the brands above had great years and some superb collaborations. With the influx of newer, higher-end, more sophisticated brands and looks making waves, if your name wasn’t Levis, Vans, Stussy, etc… you simply did not get noticed.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

Terry Kennedy – Supra

I typically try to keep my blog posts positive, so I promise to spin this one in a positive manner as well. Supra is an interesting brand for me. I have never owned a pair, and it is highly likely that I never will. And this is really more of a personal commentary on the Supra brand. I subscribe to the ‘gut feeling, emotional response’ definition of a brand, and based on that, I am not a fan of the Supra brand. No need to elaborate, but it is the case.

And despite my feelings on the brand, I must give them huge props for their ability to create shoes that are definitely ‘on trend’. I am sure they have done this to great financial success, and I am confident that there are many small retailers that pay their bills off the Skytop. They nail it every time. The new shoe from Terry Kennedy for Supra is an absolutely perfect example of this. To the point where the shoe seemingly forgoes any of the typical parameters or expectations of a skate shoe, instead opting to pursue more fashion-driven trends that will no doubt fly off the shelves. They claim it is totally skate-able, but I would imagine you will see just about as many of these on skateboards as you do Muskas – in other words… TK may wear them.

For a particular segment of the market, I am sure Supra is seen as innovative and trendsetting and inspire that feeling in young kids. That is great. The miles of kids walking down Broadway everyday embody this. When I saw these sneakers, I thought… wow, nice job. But in reality, they just did a superb job of riding trends. Make that money. Job well done.

Poor People Have Poor Ways – Veens


Photo courtesy of Jon Ball.  Shot on location in Cozumel, Mexico.

Don’t take the title of this post to be negative in any way towards any particular group.   When one of my best friends I were living together, we scraped by on the Wendy’s dollar menu, tuna fish (him, not me), and $.79 burritos.  We  drove 20 miles to the QuikTrip gas station because their fountain drinks and gas were cheaper.  We would hit the skatepark 2 hours before it closed so we would only have to pay $5.   He would sleep all day, because sleep was cheap.   We ate plenty of junk food because sweets were cheap.   Although we are both now doing just a tiny bit better for ourselves financially, we both look back upon those times as some of the best we have ever had.   The music, the skating,  the getting by.

But we had a motto back then.   Since we both had great families and upbringings, we had to justify our idiotic behavior with one statement:  Poor people have poor ways.

“Dude, you are putting jalapenos and hotdogs in your Ramen noodles? ”  “Poor poeple have poor ways.”

So when he sent me the photo above with the Veens, I instantly thought about our old days together.  But the Veens themselves are worthy of their own post in some way, but for now, we can all just chuckle at the sight of them.

A Bathing Ape – Purple Leather V-Bomber Jacket for Sale

I just did the pixel thing because I thought it would be fun. Click any image to enlarge.

After 2 years of collecting dust, I decided to finally start to liquidate a few years of insane, totally unjustified and unwarranted clothing purchases. And I am starting with this super duper totally rare purple leather jacket from A Bathing Ape. I have not worn this jacket in over 2 years, and before then, I probably wore it less than 10 times ever. Not that 90% of my readers will give a damn, but I was told by a very reliable source that this is one of only 20 of these jackets made and distributed worldwide.

I am not listing a price, but will entertain offers. BTW, it is an XL.   Shoot me an offer if…

– Your record label just sent your advance
– You just cashed out your 401K before it disappeared
– You sold your small collection of Pigeon dunks
– You just sold your rims
– You just sold your Vespa
– You just sold 5 ‘rare’ Bape hoodies

To see more pics, click here.

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