When Daniel Buckley couldn’t skate in baggy pants anymore, he turned to his mate Steven Dunstan and said, “why not make our own?” Well, pretty much.
While Steve is an ex-snowboarder, Dan is an ex-skateboarder. “It’s our upbringing, you know, it’s our heritage. I couldn’t skate in baggy pants,” Dan explains, while Steve had baggier pants for snowboarding. “That was our fall out,” Dan laughs.
But while both of them are too busy to board these days, they still cite boarding as a huge influence in their established street wear label, Huffer. “Of course it influences what we do,” Dan says, “we’re still involved.”
There are no boarding wars, either. Despite the 14-strong Huffer team coming from “a range of backgrounds and influences”, they just want to “mix it all together”, Dan says. “We don’t go, ‘oh, we’re skaters and you’re snowboarders’ or anything, it’s a mega mix of originality.”
“We formed the company after the brand had already been incepted… It’s probably way older than 11 years,” the 33-year-old says. “Our first range was waterproof breathable snowboard clothing, it was a seven-piece range, all snow pants and jackets, and then two pieces of the true knit knitwear. The t-shirts followed probably six months later.”
Originating out of the dockside markets in the bottom of Auckland City, Dan says the first thing he made was a vest. It was “Dacron-lined, slightly puffy, with two buttons,” he says. “Made out of this peach-finished drill, from a beigey tank top. I was 17.”
Steve is nonchalant, “It kind of just sort of happened, eh,” he says, lazing on the couch, staring through black, thick-rimmed glasses. It’s hard to tell if the glasses were for prescription or show, but they looked amazing. Daniel, crouched on a chair opposite, explains, “I was at school studying painting and drawing, and that led into making stuff.”
The pair has been friends since a couple of years before they started Huffer. Hanging around skateboarding in the then very arty Grey Lynn in Auckland led to some serious discussion. They now operate one of the most revered and fashion-forward street wear brands in the country.
Steve is obviously still jetlagged from having gotten off the plane from the US a couple of days before. “I’ve been in the states for two weeks selling… just trying to get the product out there.”
“It’s something they warm to, and it does have a sense of originality to it,” the 35-year-old says of the Americans’ reception of the brand. When I ask if they ever get stuck for ideas, he says, “There’s so much going on and there are so many ideas that it’s far from it, it’s like pouring down with rain!”
The pair is excited about their jewellery line they have been working on with retailers Walker & Hall. Titled ‘Infinitely Yours’, the line will be out in October. Dan says it works with the idea of super symmetry, an idea and symbol that was also incorporated into their Winter 08 Huffer range. “It’s about infinity and living forever but also at the same time living in the moment.”
Fishing has inspired their Winter 09 collection, to be showcased at Fashion Week. Motivated by fisher/photographer Corey Arnold’s adventures on the Bering Sea, and his photographs of this taken for the TV show The Deadliest Catch, Dan says “you get a colour palette from fishing”. Think fluorescent oranges, teal blues, sea greens, ice whites, and the browns and greys of ships.
Dan points to one of Arnold’s photos he’s brought up on his huge computer screen: “How freaky is that? It’s like on the Interislander [ferry]!”
Fascinated, he explains, “[The fishermen] go away for a couple of weeks and they’ve made like twenty grand each, but something like one in ten die every time.”
Steve pipes up, “You should definitely try and watch it on Youtube or the Discovery Channel.”