With one of the most trying start-up stories of its time, The Hundreds founder's determination to make the brand work is nothing short of impressive. Read on to find out how it all got started.
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Founded in 2003 by friends Bobby Kim and Ben Shenassafar, The Hundreds has grown from a small t-shirt start-up into a global brand in its own right in little over ten years. Alongside their comprehensive product lines, the brand also produces it's own print and online publications which feature inspiration from punk, skateboarding, hip-hop and surf cultures. But where did it all start? Don't be fooled, it wasn't all smooth sailing from the outset!
Read on for the complete history of The Hundreds.
The History of The Hundreds
2003 - Present
In 2003, when Bobby Kim and Ben Shenassafar set out with the hopes of starting their own clothing line they had nothing but a few hundred dollars which they had pooled from their own personal bank accounts. While an uncommon beginning for a typically privileged industry, they persevered with their intentions and started designing their first line of screen printed t-shirts.
Asking a friend with a small 2-colour press in his backyard to give them a hand, they dropped off a box of blank t-shirts, a CD with the art files and away they went! With high hopes of the t-shirts doing well from the outset (perhaps a little naivety in there), they're excitement soon turned to distress.
Weeks, followed by months went by without contact from the man who'd agreed to print the tees. Excuse after excuse soon changed into ignored calls, which led to the two becoming increasingly frustrated. At this point, almost 6 months had passed, stores were awaiting their first deliveries and the t-shirts showed no sign of arriving anytime soon.
Deciding to take matters into their own hands, the turned up at their friend's house unannounced and asked him to show them their products. When he finally gave into showing them their precious pieces, they were a mess. The graphics were too high on some t-shirts, upside down on others and on the wrong side of the last few.
Resigning to the fact that their company's over before it had even started they opted to do something about the mess up as opposed to wallowing in self-pity. Deciding to sell off the few reasonable t-shirts from the bunch, they made a small amount of cash and set out to source a new silkscreen print shop. One of Ben's friends knew of a print shop that he'd worked with before so the boys set out with a photocopy of their next season's collection.
On reaching the printing shop, they were initially put off by the lackluster approach of the staff, sticky carpets and smell of stale smoke in the air; their feelings were furthered when one of the assistants claimed ”Guys, do you know how many kids come in here trying to start a t-shirt line? We don’t have the charity for that. Do you know what ‘minimums’ are? We do million-t-shirt orders for the State of California. We don’t have the time to separate your artwork, burn the screens, and run the machines for 100 t-shirts. Go somewhere else.”
Having felt that they'd already failed at one point, they begged, bartered and struck a deal with the print shop that they couldn't refuse. Low and behold, when the two appeared back at the store a month later with a re-order, to the assistant's surprise. This continued for months as the duo would re-order very particular garments, bickering and arguing with the print shop each time... until one faithful day.
After being called into a meeting by the print shop, they were offered the opportunity to buy out the store completely - cutting out the middle man. Realising that, financially, this made sense - alongside giving them the ability to run limited numbers, always have orders on time, monitor their wares more closely and have higher standards of quality control, they decided to buy out the print shop.
Years later, the Hundreds still own that same print shop and, alongside their own collections, cater to private printing jobs for some of their friends and competitors. Now equipped with a 16-colour press, a 12-colour press and a couple of 10-colour printers - they can turn around collections and orders at a much faster.
These days, the Hundreds now offer a comprehensive collection of apparel including; the original t-shirts, jackets, hats, hoodies and pretty much everything you'd expect from a menswear line alongside their online and print magazine. Epitomising the 'California cool' vibes, the brand has gone from strength to strength since inception and is now available in over 400 locations worldwide, and 4 retail locations as of 2011.
Get The Look: The Hundreds
Recreating the California-cool style is a little more difficult than simply throwing on a printed tee and some shorts. Pretty much everything from The Hundreds collection will fit the bill, however. Need a little guidance? Shop the simple look below!
Your Quick Guide to The History of The Hundreds
- The Hundreds started in 2003 when friends Bobby Kim and Ben Shenassafar pooled few hundred dollars from their own personal bank accounts.
- The first order made by The Hundreds was almost a complete write-off after their friend ripped them off.
- The Hundreds still owns the first print shop from where they ordered the first collection from the brand.
- They first moved into 'bricks and mortar' retail in 2007, four years after the brand was created.
- Epitomising the 'California cool' vibes, the brand has gone from strength to strength since inception and is now available in over 400 locations worldwide, and 4 retail locations as of 2011.
That's your lot! With an interesting history that most aspiring fashion designers can empathise with, The Hundreds perseverance is nothing short of admirable. There's no doubt that growing from a humble printed t-shirt label to a global brand / publication in little over ten years is the result of hard work, determination and an assured sense of creative direction - all important characteristics of any successful brand these days. Newfound appreciation for the brand? Head on over to their store page below to shop the collection!