Available now for pre-order: “This is not a T-Shirt”, by Bobby Hundreds
“Most business tales you hear about are about the wins: the cover of Forbes, the billion-dollar valuations, the 12-year-old prodigy who created some app that changed the world. I wanted to write a truthful testimony of building a meaningful brand that’s centered on community and relationships, and overcoming the hardship and heartache that visit along the way. I hope it brings you insight and entertainment, but most of all, comfort.” (source)
The quote above belongs to Bobby Kim, more well-known as Bobby Hundreds. He’s the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of The Hundreds, an LA-based streetwear brand he launched back in 2003, with Ben Shenassafar (or Ben Hundreds 🙂 ).
“This is not a T-Shirt” are his memoirs and the story of how he built The Hundreds, with all the mistakes and failures. The book will be out on June 25 (pre-order it here), and it’s one of the books I’m most excited about this year. Not just as the co-founder of a website with no-bullshit business books, but also as a streetwear fan myself and a former digital marketer with experience in promoting hip-hop artists and streetwear brands (The Hundreds is amazing when it comes to branding and content marketing – I highly recommend you this study case from Shopify blog if you want to learn more).
A few words about The Hundreds: Bobby and Ben were law school classmates who started a simple T-shirt line and a blog… that went on to become one of the most iconic streetwear brands in the world.
Inspired by Supreme and Stussy, the New York streetwear brands of the ’90s that he admired when he was growing up, Bobby wanted to do that in LA. A lot of the brands attitude was exclusive, closed off – this made streetwear cool, but it wasn’t a good fit with Bobby’s personality, who’s a lot more inclusive and believes in community. He wanted to know more about those brands he was supporting, what they stand for, who their owners are, and not just be a walking billboard for anyone.
When The Hundreds brand was launched, he felt that the blog should be just as important as the product, the t-shirts. On that blog, he shared with the world all of his thoughts on streetwear – something that helped uplift The Hundreds and helped him build a transparent relationship with the customers, who got involved in the creative process, knew who the founders are, and what they believed in.
He describes the importance of the blog in this interview he gave a couple years ago:
“Really, you buy the T-shirt and in the bag, we would write ‘TheHundreds.com’ on them. When you bought the T-shirt, you’d visit the website and it would tell you the story of the T-shirt. ‘Hey, man, I made this T-shirt, this is why I made it and this is how I’m feeling about life right now.’ When you wore it, it wasn’t just another T-shirt, and that’s how we sold it, too. We’d go to stores and they were like, ‘Well, we’ve seen a million T-shirt companies.’ This was when American Apparel was blowing up and everyone was starting a T-shirt brand. I’m like, ‘It’s not just a T-shirt brand. You have to go to our website.’ They’re like, ‘A website! That’s so dorky! The internet? Who’s on the internet?’ And I’m like, ‘I’m telling my story there every day!’ That was what helped open up that communication between me and the customer.” (source)
To learn more about The Hundreds story, here are some good resources to start with:
- The Hundreds blog: The truth about streetwear
- The Hundreds blog: The 10 rules of brand-building
- Hypebeast: Bobby Hundreds On The State of Streetwear
- Complex: “It’s Not About Clothes”: Bobby Hundreds Explains Why Streetwear Is a Culture, Not Just Product
- Shopify: The Hundreds Creates Culture, Content & (Then) Commerce: Streetwear Fashion
- Complex Blueprint video interview: How Bobby Hundreds Turned A T-shirt Into A Streetwear Empire
- jeffstaple – Hypebeast’s Business of Hype podcast: Bobby & Ben Hundreds interview