In Conversation With the Hypebeast100 Cover Stars

Shannon Abloh, YOON, Bobby Hundreds and seven others share the lessons they learned this year and where they see the industry going in 2023.

Fashion 
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For the last 10 years, the Hypebeast100 has spotlighted the world’s most influential creatives: designers, artists, musicians and others who define the zeitgeist and push culture in bold, fresh and thought-provoking directions. As part of the Hypebeast100 10th anniversary celebrations, 10 cover stars — Shannon Abloh, YOON, Bobby Hundreds, Rhuigi Villaseñor, Eli Russell Linnetz, Emily Adams Bode, Dongjoon Lim, Devon Turnbull, Jon Gray and the RTFKT crew — answered our questions about how the cultural landscape shifted in 2022, what they’re the proudest of from the last 12 months, where they see the industry going in the next 12 months and more. See their answers below, and be sure to check out the full Hypebeast100 list here.

Shannon Abloh

Virgil famously said, “I’d do anything at the right time and I would also do things at the wrong time if they felt right.” How do you think that applies today?

Virgil’s words continue to hold true. In the industry today, it’s important to create work that inspires people and makes them feel good, no matter what surrounds them in the landscape. My goal is to continue the work Virgil started in ways that feel right and important.

You stepped into the spotlight for the first time this year. What was that like?

It was so rewarding and important to me to continue moving Virgil’s legacy forward, and I’ve had tremendous support as I made my way into the spotlight to spearhead all the initiatives I know he’d hold dear to his heart. I’m so grateful for the overwhelmingly positive responses we’ve received from partners and friends of Virgil’s, as well as the overall public and I’m so excited for what the future holds with Virgil Abloh Securities and The Virgil Abloh Foundation.

What was the biggest lesson you learned this year?

I learned that greater equality and inclusion across creative industries are more important than ever. That’s exactly what we’ll aim to do through the Foundation — support cultural leaders and programs that uplift communities.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?

I’m trying to continue Virgil’s legacy by spreading his ethos and essence globally with VA Securities. We’re also launching The Virgil Abloh Foundation in early 2023. Our family has always been passionate about increasing access and opportunities for diverse youth who want to pursue creative careers in the arts. Ultimately, Virgil loved working with people and bringing them together to create something truly unique and beautiful. I want to keep these ideas at the center of all the work I do going forward through our various initiatives dedicated to his legacy.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months?

The industry is ever changing, but I know collaboration and thoughtfulness will remain at the forefront. Virgil inspired the industry to dream bigger and go after those dreams. I hope the industry moves in that direction, and I strive to keep that idea at the center of all the work I do.

YOON

How do you feel the cultural landscape shifted in 2022?

We can’t let the algorithm divide us.

What was your biggest moment/accomplishment of the year, and why was that so impactful?

2022 was packed. AMBUSH® had its first show during Milan Fashion Week. We dropped our POW!® NFT project and launched our proprietary metaverse called SILVER FCTRY as our bridging into web3 space as well as projects with Azuki and Monkey Kingdom. Did a tequila mix drink collab with Starbucks, which was totally out of this world for Tokyo, and a classic collab with Levi’s as well. Our beloved 2nd round of ASTRO BOY collab dropped in life-size, as did two very meaningful Nike collabs: the Air Adjust Force and the Air Force 1, which communicated a new vision of connecting night sports to our audience. We also did an amazing collab with Reese Puffs for a futuristic, fun cereal box and made a metaverse called Breakfastverse for everyone to start the day with a dream. What a year!

How did you manage to remain creative this year, and how do you plan to do so going forward?

I literally kept moving and plan to do that in 2023 as well — my passport was down to 2 pages left by November. Being on the road inspires me to see [things differently], and that energy gives me a new perspective on how my ‘creativity’ can and will make sense for my presence in the world. Creativity is just your intelligence having fun, so I plan to remain a die-hard nerd so I can keep learning new things and seek knowledge going into eternity!

What was the biggest lesson you learned this year?

What made the most significant change was keeping things stoic. Stoicism is essential, as it can become a gauge to have a much more precise understanding of where to put your energy and what deserves to receive it. It also increased my intensity of focus and decreased distractions. Don’t let the algorithm control your emotions. We are all given the exact same 24 hours each day. Use it wisely.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months?

I hope to see positive, creative energy come to the surface eventually. Everyone in the creative field bears a collective responsibility to bring forth the best ideas, not the consensus ones. Looking forward to the change!

Bobby Hundreds

How do you feel the cultural landscape shifted in 2022?

On November 28, 2021, the day that he passed, I tweeted, “So, what happens now? … Nothing will end, but everything will change … The Post-Virgil Era.” And over the last twelve months, I do think we’ve seen hints of what that could look like. It’s funny because Virgil famously predicted that streetwear would die and in a way, it really did. Virgil’s filter was so overpowering, that without him in the picture, it’s like basketball without Jordan. You can’t really define one without the other.

The reality is that streetwear is always dying and being born anew. The streetwear generation is about regeneration. When Virgil entered the scene, he was sealing one chapter himself. This time around, however, the abrupt closure has made for an awkward transition for streetwear. Maybe that’s just reflective of the larger world post-COVID.

When we were starting, designers aspired to build hundred-million-dollar brands. And then, independent streetwear and desktop publishing fragmented the industry into a hundred different million-dollar brands. Today, I feel like there’s less interest in reinforcing consistent, traditional businesses and more enthusiasm around dynamic, fluid art projects. With everything in flux (supply chain, seasonal collections, distribution models, climate change) and rules being rewritten, we are looking at one of the most creative, adaptive, and innovative generations of streetwear. Much of this reminds me of early-’90s skateboarding as well as the urban market in the late ’90s and early ’00s. The trend cycle had slowed. The corporate influence was overbearing. In response, the culture ushered in a new class of frustrated and angsty artists challenging the status quo and molding a new paradigm. Brands like The Hundreds were born of that alchemy.

On a market level, it might not be the most profitable time to capitalize on streetwear, but from an artist’s point of view, there’s no better time than now. These next few years are where the next Virgil Abloh will be forged. You can already feel it in the air.

What was your biggest moment/accomplishment of the year, and why was that so impactful?

I don’t know where to begin. Ben and I do so many different things now. I finished writing my second book this week and nothing feels better than that. That will be published in spring 2023. We threw another successful Family Style festival with partners like fragment design and Gallery Dept. Over 10,000 people of all ages and backgrounds were in attendance. Our second set of digital collectibles, Badam Bomb Squad, was minted and the villain’s arc is starting to add depth to Adam Bomb World. We have a Pokémon collaboration dropping that our community has been asking us about for years.

The accomplishments I’m proudest of, however, are subtle and quieter. Like getting the fit right on a piece or collaborating with Sunami, one of my favorite current hardcore bands. It’s been a real honor to witness the leaders in our organization grow, like The Hundreds’ creative director David Rivera and our digital brand manager Sandy Mosqueda. It’s been inspiring to see generations of The Hundreds’ community continue to write the story collectively. The brand has taken on a life of its own. I just saw that two of our supporters (who established a partnership through their love of the brand) opened a wine bar together in Munich, Germany. Tonight, I was walking down the street in Miami and stumbled upon an Adam Bomb Squad gathering at a restaurant with our mascot on the wall. Zack Bia was DJ’ing our party Tuesday and said some really nice things on the mic about how I’d inspired his own journey. These are all the little bits that make it mean something.

How did you manage to remain creative this year, and how do you plan to do so going forward?

Creativity is born of struggle and this was one of the most challenging years of my life on both a personal and professional level. Call it a mid-life crisis, but I’ve reached this unique point in my career where I’ve accomplished everything I’ve set out to do, yet simultaneously feel like I haven’t even begun and have limited time left. It’s like I’ve played the video game a million times already. I know all the shortcuts, I know the final bosses’ maneuvers, I’ve experienced what it feels like to win the prize. I can see the matrix behind the game now.

Having said that, I’m tired of playing the simulation and am ready to graduate to the real thing. How can I take everything I’ve learned and accumulated over the last two decades of my career and apply them to the next revolution? I’m telling you, something tremendous is materializing on the horizon (if we’re not looking at it already). This is the calm before the storm and I will be first in line.

What was the biggest lesson you learned this year?

As I get older, it becomes resoundingly evident how much young people play a part in driving culture and turning the world. That’s a lot of responsibility to carry, but if it weren’t for the youth and their zeal, their invincible spirt and unbreakable nature, everything would be so safe and boring. Sometimes I like to go to hardcore shows (collector conventions, skate parks) by myself, sit in the back and watch culture form in real time. These people lead with their hearts. Against insurmountable odds, they are resolute. It’s so easy to capitulate with age. It’s the most comfortable path and there are a thousand excuses why it’s better to succumb to complacency. I get it. I know.

When you listen to young people, however, there is no other option. This is about survival — on a literal scale, yes. Climate change, wealth disparity, senseless violence. This is also about the survival of culture, identity, and voice. It’s a powerful and brave statement: “I am here, I matter, I deserve to be heard.” Thank God for the next generation, always. Without them, we’d be rudderless.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months?

The bad news is that there will be a downturn in the global economy because of inflation, supply chain issues, and consumer fatigue after years of hyperactive COVID spending. We just aren’t sure how bad it will get nor how long this recession might last. You’re starting to see some public news about Nike and adidas cutting production in half, retailers bracing for the worst, tech layoffs … The last time this happened, streetwear was largely insulated from the turbulence because it wasn’t big enough to feel the hit. Back in 2008, 2009, brands like ours were still scrappy and resourceful enough to not have all this loose fat hanging off their bellies.

It’s different today. Streetwear and sneakers are a sizable portion of fashion and commerce. And there’s a lot of excess. Virgil thought we had too many hoodies in 2019! Imagine how he’d feel now in a targeted-ad, post-DTC apocalypse. Although the smaller indie designers may fare fine in the immediate, I think we’re gonna see giants topple, brands and stores shutter (some as early as the new year) and those shockwaves will destabilize the entire ecosystem. Eventually, even the core guys will be affected.

The great news is that this culling will open up new opportunities. I think much of it will transpire in the digital realm. It’s like regrowth after a forest fire. I’m curious to witness how the next generation will reformat a new language of streetwear. Fashion is so damn easy when there’s momentum, it’s stupid. There’s money there, I can’t deny that, but it can also get monotonous. Lazy art. Passive designers. Not anymore. It’s all hands on deck now. We’ll need to get out of our comfort zones a bit, we’re gonna have to try in a way we haven’t in recent years, and we’ll have to work together. But I promise you that on the other side of this a new streetwear awaits. And it’s gonna be a lot of fun.

Rhuigi Villaseñor

How do you feel the cultural landscape shifted in 2022?

The world scattered. For example, if there’s an army of ants and you put a Tupperware over them to keep them in, once you remove the lid the ants all somehow scatter. That’s where I feel we are.

What was your biggest moment/accomplishment of the year, and why was that so impactful?

I showed my first Bally collection. To me, it was a symbol of a new beginning and attitude for the brand. It’s always been a dream of mine to not only be a CD of a house but to be the guy waking a brand that isn’t quite in the main stage.

How did you manage to remain creative this year, and how do you plan to do so going forward?

I have conversations. I absorb, I’m really just a big student. I want to learn from not only the great — but from everyday people. I make clothes that I want to see in the street. Going forward? I plan to make more friends.

What was the biggest lesson you learned this year?

That I can’t win battles on my own. Delegating is a gift, organization is important and emotional intelligence in creative/business decisions is the key.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months?

Where the people take it. I think our duty as designers is to pick pockets of subculture and culture and document them — in a sort of selfish way — by blending them with our aesthetics. Oftentimes we want to believe we’re in command of the direction, but really it’s all connected and symbiotic.

Eli Russell Linnetz

How do you feel the cultural landscape shifted in 2022?

More than ever, people are listening to artists — and this gives them a platform to communicate directly to the people buying their work, buying their clothes. To be able to have that direct authentic dialogue with consumers is something I have always strived for with ERL.

What was your biggest moment/accomplishment of the year, and why was that so impactful?

My collaboration with Dior and getting the opportunity to work with Kim Jones. The spirit of the project was so organic and authentic. Also, winning the Karl Lagerfeld prize with LVMH was a great honor — he was someone that always strived to make his universe and did his own photography, which is also a cornerstone for me with ERL.

How did you manage to remain creative this year, and how do you plan to do so going forward?

I think the reason people respond to ERL and its world is authenticity. I never signed up to be involved in the fashion world or be a part of it, so for me, it’s always about staying focused on the stories I’m telling. My background is in filmmaking and screenwriting, so for me, telling authentic stories is beyond trends in fashion. It’s something more akin to creating a movie where I bring the characters of my childhood memories to life.

What was the biggest lesson you learned this year?

It’s not something I necessarily learned this year, but it’s something I always go back to — I think it’s good to always remind oneself to really trust yourself and celebrate your wins.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months?

It’s a secret.

Emily Adams Bode

How do you feel the cultural landscape shifted in 2022?

The landscape has shifted to empower the individual, and encourage people to be more emotionally driven — more sentimental — across all industries. We’re also thankfully in an era that champions craft and history.

What was your biggest moment/accomplishment of the year, and why was that so impactful?

Winning the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year award. This award recognizes the incredibly talented team at Bode and demonstrates that there’s no “right way” to have a successful fashion business today.

How did you manage to remain creative this year, and how do you plan to do so going forward?

By prioritizing using my time and energy on what inspires me — whether that’s touring an antique dealer’s warehouse, visiting the Folk Art Museum or flipping through my parent’s childhood letters and yearbooks. I learned it’s important to schedule time to do these things just like any other task.

What was the biggest lesson you learned this year?

Time with your family is precious. Spend as many days with your family as you can.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months?

I see even more emphasis on brick-and-mortar and retail experiences.

Dongjoon Lim

How do you feel the cultural landscape shifted in 2022?

The landscape has been segmented and clustered so much at lightning speed powered by the Internet. It seems the existing mainstream has been decentralized, but new groups are becoming centralized again — just look at the advent of influencers, younger brands, etc. It was an interesting journey for me and PAF to navigate this fluctuating landscape.

What was your biggest moment/accomplishment of the year, and why was that so impactful?

Launching our collaboration project EQUIPMENT™ with Off-White. Virgil Abloh asked us to imagine a performance wear collection at the intersection of design and utility made to navigate “our terrain today.” We proposed the creation of multidimensional safe zones for human survival, spanning garments, tools, and spaces. The 2 years of the development process with Virgil and the Off-White team will be unforgettable. They challenged us to expand our design capacity and categories from garments to objects and furniture. Of course, Virgil supported us to maximize our creativity and let us reach the bigger world.

How did you manage to remain creative this year, and how do you plan to do so going forward?

Unseen challenges have forced me to come up with solutions. Solution means survival which requires creativity. I haven’t had a specific plan to stay creative. But here is my favorite line from some film — “We will find the way. We always have.”

What was the biggest lesson you learned this year?

This is a team game. Running with a group of great people who share great visions is one of the most important things in life.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months?

A global recession should impact the fashion industry. Some brands will disappear but some will arise. The landscape is fluctuating but there should still be some ground we can stand or move on.

Devon Turnbull

How do you feel the cultural landscape shifted in 2022?

2022 was about celebrating community—spending time (IRL) with friends and peers, and deepening meaningful relationships.

What was your biggest moment/accomplishment of the year, and why was that so impactful?

I felt so blessed this year! Lots of surreal opportunities, but my show at Lisson Gallery gave me a chance to really share the purist expression of my work with New York City. The listening space and the music from that show are conducive to what I really want to share with people.

How did you manage to remain creative this year, and how do you plan to do so going forward?

Being creative, for me at least, is about trusting oneself and having opportunities to be productive. Creativity is an essential human behavior. As long as I’m blessed with a canvas I’ll put paint on it.

What was the biggest lesson you learned this year?

Don’t forget to keep quality of life in perspective.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months?

Quality over quantity.

Jon Gray

How do you feel the cultural landscape shifted in 2022?

I feel like the cultural topography is in a constant state of regeneration, and that society is dealing with post-lockdown whiplash. Things slowed down in 2020, and bouncing back into the hamster wheel pace of a pre-pandemic lifestyle has been jarring for a lot of people, myself included.

What was your biggest moment/accomplishment of the year, and why was that so impactful?

My great-grandmother taught me that variety is the spice of life, so I’m going to throw a few moments at you. We started the year off strong by doing the Governors’ Ball at the Oscars with Wolfgang Puck. Denzel Washington was on the red carpet telling us how he used to date a girl in our hood back in the days. Legendary vibes.

The release of our first book, Black Power Kitchen, is still surreal. It was a true labor of love and we spent three years in the trenches with [coauthor] Osayi Endolyn creating it. We kicked off the book tour at the Met Museum in the Temple of Dendur and had black folks hitting the electric slide on the temple. We took the Egyptian wing back to Africa. Shout out to Suhaly!

How did you manage to remain creative this year, and how do you plan to do so going forward?

I feel like people don’t talk enough about some of the side effects of success. As the momentum and energy around Ghetto Gastro builds I’ve had less time and space to be creative. I’m learning to set guardrails on my schedule so that I have the opportunity to let the mind roam. I hit Lincoln Center the other day for an orchestral tribute to The Notorious B.I.G. It was an incredible show and it’s inspiring to see this brother’s spirit still live through his art.

What was the biggest lesson you learned this year?

That there’s a huge world outside of the fashion, art, and lifestyle bubble. The Black Power Kitchen tour illuminated the breadth of people that support and love Ghetto Gastro. That’ll inform how we continue to build the vision out. but I’m getting cozier with the fact that I can’t be everywhere and do everything too, though I keep repeating that so I’m not sure if I’ve really learned it yet.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months?

I see the wind blowing in Ghetto Gastro’s direction. I think humans are yearning to connect with projects and people of substance. We’re been active the last decade but we’re just getting warmed up.

RTFKT

How do you feel the cultural landscape shifted in 2022?

2022 was a tough year for the Web3 space, but that provided amazing opportunities to keep building and innovating with our community. The real future is built during the tough times.

What was your biggest moment/accomplishment of the year, and why was that so impactful?

We have had so many amazing moments this year and launched lots of next gen innovations. We are especially proud of our first drop of the year with MNLTH, which was the first Nike NFT. We developed a unique distribution mechanic called the Quest, where the community had to solve complex puzzles to dynamically open the mysterious MNLTH. The MNLTH revealed the RTFKT x Nike Dunk Genesis Cryptokicks which merged our love for gaming and sneakers with Skin Vial Tech. Another highlight was the explosion of our Clone X creative community creating content, brand and experiences. We have always aimed to democratize and onboard the next generation of creators into this new world.

How did you manage to remain creative this year, and how do you plan to do so going forward?

We have fun with everything we do. We are reliving our childhood passions. From the beginning of RTFKT we have always had ideas of a better future that’s focused on utilizing tech and creativity and we are trying to build that. There is no playbook — we innovate, experiment and evolve.

What was the biggest lesson you learned this year?

Community communication and transparency are key to any Web3 brand as it’s a new industry with very advanced collectors. We are working with our community to pave the future together.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months?

Every day, we get one step closer to the future we envision. We are very excited to see the release of good blockchain games and mass adoption of powerful technologies.

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