Words by Khalid Strickland
The moment I saw their “I Shoot Hipsters” logo on a sticker, Hoodman Clothing struck a chord with me. Not because I want to murk hipsters (for now), but because I feel what Eddie Huang, founder of the Hoodman brand, is getting at. Gentrification has turned New York City, once a cultural Mecca, into a landscape of overpriced condos, identical coffee shops and hip-hop clubs where I’m not welcome. In tight residential areas, hastily-built skyscrapers block out the sun. Unique elements like the old-school charm of Coney Island, the red light naughtiness of Forty Deuce and the soul of Harlem are being driven away by alien occupants.
The “I Shoot Hipsters” logo showed that someone, deranged as they may be, empathized with me. Many of the cool designs on Hoodman Clothing’s T-shirts, sweaters and hoodies are politically charged. Even before he mashed-out McCain, Barack Obama was illustrated as a superhero on their gear.
After crossing paths at events and parties around town, many of which were co-sponsored by Hoodman, I caught up with Eddie Huang to find out what inspired his surging streetwear line.
“It starts with hip hop and neighborhood politics,” explained Huang. “I try to focus on issues that affect the Hip-Hop community or just people who care about what’s going on in neighborhoods on a grassroots level. I’m trying to keep it authentic and hood but smart at the same time. I’m not a fashion dude; I’m an ideas person so the clothing is always inspired by the message; not what pattern or color is hot. I live right between Little Italy and Chinatown. What Bloomberg wants to do with raising height limits (on buildings) is gonna destroy the area. That proposed law is actually what inspired most of the season. It isn’t even hipster hate, it’s just that hipster culture and the whole attitude that ‘everything’s been done, everything is dead’ really has a negative effect on communities. Maybe everything is dead or done up on the upper east or upper west, but there’s still real shit going down in certain neighborhoods.”
Believe it or not, some folks were offended by Hoodman’s pistol-emblazoned logo. Who knew that people actually referred to or thought of themselves as hipsters? Perhaps pumped-up from back-to-back caramel lattes, the protesters got gully and filled Eddie’s inbox with hate mail.
“Yeah, we got heat from the hipsters shirt. It was mad funny. I responded to the first one but a bunch of others came in and I just started deleting if the message line was like, ‘I just stained my lumberjack shirt with tears… fuck you Hoodman’. We’re gonna ride with this ‘neighborhood politik’ theme for a minute and just deal with what’s going on in New York. It’s disgusting how big businesses and condos are going up everywhere destroying local culture and there’s a lot to say about it.”
It’s not all politics with Hoodman, though. Ghostface Killah lent his image and autograph to one of their limited edition T-Shirt lines. At the photo shoot for Ghostface’s Big Doe Rehab album cover, Eddie collaborated with Starks on the tee’s design. Whoo Kid, G-Unit’s official DJ, recently joined forces with Hoodman to create his own clothing line: SV Boutique.
“Whoo Kid was a big fan of the Obama tees and I met him ‘cause I would give the G-Unit guys shirts for shoots and videos. I do camera work so I’d be at the shoots and he started talking to me about doing his own line. He’s definitely the illest dude I work with… non-stop funny all day. He needs his own show on Comedy Central. Before David Alan Grier, I had pitched to him the idea of Hood News, but they got Chocolate News now. Hopefully when Alan Grier falls off like Craig Kilborn and they’ll give Whoo Kid a shot. He’d be the Haitian Jon Stewart.”
Hoodman has also collaborated with graphic arts collective Artsprojekt for a line of custom skateboard decks. This has resulted in some pretty creative designs. My favorite is “Hood Polo,” which features the polo player from Ralph Lauren’s iconic logo riding a bike instead of a horse. With his franchise rapidly expanding, I tip my fitted cap to Mr. Huang for being on the grind. Anyone who can succeed in New York, now a city for the rich, is all right with me.
“Shout out to Duck Down, Sean P, Noah and Franz… we’ve been doing the gear for some of their shoots lately. People can cop our gear at Hoodman.TV, Digitalgravel.com, Union NYC, Elite Board shop in Virginia, Palace 5ive in DC, Sole Classics in Ohio; I think we have eighteen retailers. They rotate depending on season, but it’s all up on our website. Whoo Kid also has it up on SVBoutique.com. I always liked kicks and I definitely stay fresh, but I wouldn’t say I wanted to do anything with fashion. I just saw what was going on in streetwear and I felt like a lot of hip hop sayings, songs and icons were being watered down and disrespected so I wanted to do my thing and come correct.”
To purchase or for more info, visit www.Hoodman.tv.
Previously Posted — Ghostface x Hoodman T-Shirts