A few weeks back, I spent some time in Hong Kong made a point to “look-under-the-hood” of the inner workings of Hypebeast as I spent the afternoon with Managing Editor, Eugene Kan. This was a great chance to put a face to a name on someone I’ve only had contact through the internet and also an opportunity to “take things in” as a curious contributor to the EC/PROCESS brands. We spent the afternoon discussing the current state of streetwear and the global economy’s effect on all of us as consumers. Eugene also agreed to this exclusive interview with me based on our conversations of that day.
Check it out after the jump.
Your studio in HK reminds me very much of being in the Epidemik Coalition/PROCESS studio in Atlanta. You have a relaxed environment, a constant white-seamless backdrop ready for the next photo story, and gear everywhere. How long has Hypebeast been at that location? Any plans for the future?
We’re going on almost two years at our current office. It has been fun, it was a hell of a lot cleaner at the beginning but of course it sure got over-run with a ton of shit and has basically served as a mini-warehouse at times for any collaboration products we’re working on. It’s full of like 100 pairs of shoes from our Hypebeast x adidas “The Complete Ride” Zeitfrei collabo as well as accompanying bags and shit. We’re actually probably not going to re-new the lease come August, the office is sort of out of the way and aside from the occasional storage/product shots, we can work pretty much from anywhere.
How did your path lead you to working as the Managing Editor for Hypebeast? What did you do before that?
When I first moved to Hong Kong, I came to play semi-pro/pro soccer with full intentions of bouncing and going back to Canada to lead a boring, fruitless life. I had mad time to kill each day so I hooked up with the guys at Kix-Files.com via a friend I had met on sneaker forums and and did some blogging for fun. In exchange for posts, I got deals on shoes, nothing crazy. That same friend who introduced me started doing stuff with Kevin (founder of Hypebeast) who had just recently moved to Hong Kong around the same time as me. From there on in, I started contributing at Hypebeast cause it paid a few bucks per post. From contributor, I stuck it out for a few months and once soccer ended for the season, I went back to Canada with a plan to return to Hong Kong to assume a role as editor at Hypebeast. Fast forward, I’m a managing editor… that’s pretty much it. Boring story haha.
What’s your favorite thing about working at Hypebeast?
I don’t really know, I guess it really varies on my mood. I know for sure if I could travel more (you’d think I’d be all over the place but I’m not) it would enhance the experience. But I guess the most consistent positive of the job is meeting people. While online media can obviously work from anywhere, at least Hong Kong is a relatively “destination-like” spot where people tend to roll through if they’re in Japan or about to go up to China for production. I guess the free swag is decent too, I’d be lying if it wasn’t a nice added bonus.
In order to manage the content on Hypebeast, it seems you have to keep up with so many sites, brands, events, publications, in order to curate “blog worthy” stories. How do you keep up?
It’s funny how some of your useless skills tend to be one of your greatest assets sometimes I guess. I was never a keen learner in school cause that shit just flat-out didn’t excite me. But when it comes to shit I’m down with, I find it quite interesting… I almost take on this otaku mentality and go to the earth’s end to find out about it. So in essence, I obviously have a pretty strong interest in what Hypebeast represents, so this aspect of keeping track of shit comes naturally and it just makes me feel educated (albeit dumb irrelevant shit sometimes). Always something new to learn and that’s the fun aspect of everything.
Do you have any plans to bring on interns?
Yeh we have plans, I don’t have the best skills in delegating but there would be some things that I think would make it more efficient around here. But then again, with no experience with interns, nor having ever interned, I don’t want to be that asshole that makes the intern take on trivial tasks and doesn’t really learn anything all that important. But I guess the bitch work really does build some character to a degree haha. Being in HK, it’s not all that easy to bring on interns cause either they can’t speak English all that well or they really aren’t the best fit in terms of interest for HB.
How do you decide what gets featured on Hypebeast?
The process isn’t all that hard. Unfortunately by way of sheer volume, one post will never make or break you so to say. Shit usually falls into two categories. The stuff people want to read and the stuff you’re feeling yourself. The stuff people want to read are often the things that you get a feeling your demographic will be very much interested in. Sometimes this doesn’t really do anything for you, and other times you might be feeling it as well. The second part is shit that we like. This is often pretty simple… photography needs to be on-point as well. That’s always important. It’s the fucking Internet, you’re stuck in a tactile-less 2-D environment so you have to ensure the importance in trying to entice people is stepped up. Too often decent news might get put to the side cause the pics were terrible and they really benefit nobody. It’ll make Hypebeast look like shit and make your brand’s products undesirable (I think so anyways).
How do you feel about western brands emerging into Eastern markets and vice-versa?
I think it’s good. More so than ever, the market has grown at a rapid pace. It’s about finding the people that are in tune with your brand on a global scale. You need this globalization to effectively broaden your horizons. Although for the most part, I feel that “streetwear” embodies strong regional themes, at the end of the day streetwear is rather consumable and good, solid product regardless of where it came from does have a good chance of thriving anywhere in the world. But one big problem will always be the technical aspect of fittings. Country to country, region to region you’ll have different sizings. I can name a shit load of dope brands from various parts of the world that just won’t translate in terms of fit which is a pity.
I’ve been following your twitter feed for quite some time, and one of my favorite things is reading your “Dumb Email of the Day” updates. You must get a ton of crazy email requests to email@example.com daily! What’s the Dumbest Email you’ve ever received?
I’m not sure what the dumbest one I’ve gotten was… oh wait I do. The day you were in the Hypebeast offices I think I read it out loud to you about that guy who thought we should give him a personal blog cause everybody else on our current blogroll were fucking losers and got beat-up in high school. He said something about giving away Yeezys on his piece of shit Geocities website.
Speaking of twitter, how do you see it changing the blogosphere?
The Internet’s biggest downfall is the lack of intimacy… and by that I mean that you can’t really connect with people on that next level tip cause by and large, the Internet is really impersonal. You sit miles away hammering away at a keyboard. You won’t ever get to that level of where you can truly understand a person’s personalities. I see Twitter as a tool that gets you closer to the ultimate goal of being face to face albeit it’ll still always fall short. Twitter unlike HB gives me a chance to be myself more so, I don’t have to be some pretentious prick sometimes using big words to describe the colorway of a shoe you can see with your own eyes anyways haha.
Do you have any shout outs?
Wow, I never get a chance to do these… but I will abstain for fear of somebody catching feelings about me not shouting them out ha!