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Keith Hufnagel, Professional Skateboarder and Entrepreneur, Dies at 46

Keith Hufnagel, an expert skateboarder who grew a San Francisco streetwear retailer, Huf, into a worldwide attire firm by the identical title, died on Thursday at his residence in Los Angeles. He was 46.

An announcement from the corporate mentioned the trigger was mind most cancers, which Mr. Hufnagel had for 2 and a half years.

Mr. Hufnagel got here of age as a skateboarder throughout the 1980s in New York Metropolis, the place skate boarders shaped a gritty subculture that used the city atmosphere as a playground. In 1992 he moved to California and have become an expert, using for corporations like Actual Skateboards, Thunder Vehicles and Spitfire Wheels.

He was notable for his “pop,” the seemingly easy approach he leapt onto and over tall obstacles, and for his fluid strains by intimidating terrain, even whereas dodging visitors or rushing down a steep hill. He toured the world as an expert, and he appeared in indelible skateboarding movies within the center to late 1990s and the early 2000s.

However round 2001, he mentioned in a current interview with the rare-sneaker sale web site Goat, he started to surprise about his future after skateboarding.

“I’d been touring for over a decade, seeing what was occurring in Tokyo, New York, L.A., London,” Mr. Hufnagel mentioned. “I used to be hitting all these main cities and seeing this streetwear and sneaker tradition occurring.”

So Mr. Hufnagel and his spouse on the time, Anne Freeman, determined to open a boutique in San Francisco. Ms. Freeman wished to concentrate on ladies’s attire, however they discovered that the market was oversaturated.

“So I used to be like, ‘Properly, I’d love to do a streetwear idea retailer of what I see world wide,” Mr. Hufnagel mentioned. “We didn’t have a marketing strategy or something. We simply made it occur.”

In 2002 Mr. Hufnagel opened the primary Huf, a streetwear boutique that carried uncommon sneakers and attire by manufacturers like Supreme, in San Francisco. Huf had a minimalist inside design that highlighted its merchandise, and the shops additionally displayed and bought artworks by skate boarders and artists like Aaron Rose and Haroshi.

In time Huf expanded to new areas and have become catnip for sneakerheads, who waited in line for hours to spend lots of of dollars on limited-release Nikes or Adidas.

Mr. Hufnagel designed a few of these prized sneakers himself, together with custom-made Nike Dunks, tie-dyed within the colours of the San Francisco Giants, and the Nike Air Max 90 HUFquakes, with a colorway that seemed like a crackling fault line.

The shop ultimately developed right into a label of its personal, that includes attire generally branded with an easy “H” brand and generally with extra profane slogans. Huf attire grew to become recognized for irreverent T-shirts, capacious and sturdy pants and hoodies, and restricted runs of merchandise pegged to musical acts like Smashing Pumpkins, cartoon characters like Felix the Cat and merchandise like Budweiser.

The corporate additionally made skate footwear for years, and helps a staff of professional skate boarders. Mr. Hufnagel, after all, rode for his model.

“Our clothes retails a bit greater than your common core skate model, however our attire winds up interesting to a broader spectrum of individuals,” Mr. Hufnagel instructed WWD in 2009. “We undoubtedly take perform into consideration, so you possibly can skate in almost something we make, however you possibly can put on what we make in a wide range of components outdoors of skating.”

Huf is now bought by main action-sports-themed retailers, like PacSun and Zumiez, and has shops in Los Angeles, New York and 16 areas in Japan. The corporate is at present owned by TSI Holdings.

Well-known skate boarders the world over mourned Mr. Hufnagel’s demise.

On his Fb web page, Tony Hawk known as him “a skating legend” and “a pioneer DIY businessman that valued integrity over income,” including, “Skateboarding is collectively mourning at the moment.”

Mr. Hufnagel was born in Manhattan on Jan. 21, 1974, to Monica and Robert Hufnagel. His mom was a nurse, and his father labored for Metropolitan Life Insurance coverage. He bought his first skateboard when he was four and took up the game in earnest as a young person.

He graduated from highschool in 1992 and briefly attended San Francisco State College, however he dropped out after six months to grow to be an expert skateboarder for Enjoyable Skateboards. In 1993 he signed with Jim Thiebaud, a founding father of Actual Skateboards and an government with Deluxe Distribution, which distributes Actual and different skateboard hardware manufacturers.

“Huf is a strong skater and generally known as one of many highest olliers on the earth,” Mr. Thiebaud instructed The San Francisco Chronicle in 2005, utilizing the skateboarding time period for leaping with the board. “He lands completely, and never in a gnarly, aggressive, attacking-the-streets approach.”

Mr. Hufnagel met Ms. Freeman within the early 1990s. They married in 2001 and pooled their financial savings to open the primary Huf retailer. Their marriage led to divorce, however they remained shut pals.

He’s survived by his spouse, Mariellen Hufnagel; their kids; a brother, Chris; and his mom.

Mr. Hufnagel instructed The Guardian in 2011 that he was glad to see Huf develop with out sacrificing its dedication to the subculture that began it.

“We at all times deal with the skate boarders,” he mentioned, “however it’s important to consider the larger image as a result of now you’re promoting to the world.”

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