Jörg Haas – The Evolution of Beinghunted
The evolution of Beinghunted has come full-circle: Started as a private blog in 2001 by sneaker, streetwear, and design enthusiast Jörg Haas, Beinghunted grew into a full-fledged website with an online store known as “The-Glade”. This developed into influential Berlin-based streetwear store Firmament, which Jörg co-owned for a decade before turning his focus back on Beinghunted as an umbrella for many things: consultancy, art gallery, and a brand in its own right.
In our #33 issue of SNEAKERS, we brought you the full-length interview covering the early days of streetwear culture, the rise of social media, and what kind of product is still worth hunting these days. Naturally, Jörg’s company headquarters hold way more cool things than we could showcase in our print issue. So here’s some extra eye candy with some words from the man behind Beinghunted.
Jörg, can you briefly introduce yourself in your own words?
I live and work in Berlin but I am originally from Munich. I did a bit of everything that nowadays is being referred to as “street culture” – back then that term did not exist. I was lucky enough to be able to visit NYC in 1985 where I saw graffiti for the first time. I went back in 1992 when Stüssy had opened its first store. I went to Supreme in 1994, bought stuff at X-Large, 555 Soul, alife and Liquid Sky. I listened to hip hop, drum and bass, went to Cosmic parties, to the Fridge in London in 1990 where Soul II Soul were DJing, and banged my head in the basement of a pub where the Chemical Brothers did their thing live. I missed buying the Air Max 95 in 1995 but tried to make up for that in the following years. I started an online agency and content management company in 1999, launched my website Beinghunted in 2001, did retail for 10 years and started my consultancy and gallery in 2015. I also run a small clothing label by the same name.
Can you tell us briefly about the motivation behind your move away from the Firmament store towards Beinghunted?
I think it’s important to understand that The-Glade, and later Firmament, evolved out of Beinghunted and its first online shop. The initial concept for The-Glade was just to be an intermediate online sales platform between brands, stores – hardly any had a proper web presence in 2004 – and customers. As most of the companies I talked to did not understand the concept, my concept turned into a ‘regular’ brick-and-mortar shop following the traditional wholesale/retail principle. Through Beinghunted I had built good relationships with the brands that I ended up buying for the shop. After ten years and having sold all the brands that mattered to me – Acronym, Supreme, visvim, WTAPS, Nike, adidas, SOPH., and Stone Island to name just a few – as well as having done numerous events, launches, etc. there was not really much else to be achieved. I also feel that the days of the “cool guy” shop are numbered. Brands are focused on direct sales, large retail entities have taken over this segment, and consumers seem to be less and less loyal.
So now with Beinghunted you offer a broad range of services, including consultancy?
Taking all the knowledge and experience from my prior job as a creative director, my retail knowledge and my connections to some of the world’s most influential brands and turning that into a consultancy was the next logical step. And so far I have been proven right. We have been working on some amazing projects, a little under the radar, but there is a lot to be excited about in 2017. I would also love to put more energy into the gallery as there are so many people – from the Beinghunted days – that I would like to exhibit.
You gained an enormous amount of experience through your work as a retailer. How did it feel to shift perspective from selling things to communicating or consulting?
When you look at retail from a brand perspective, a store is simply a sales outlet for products and maybe, with the right standing and platform, also a marketing/PR tool. In the end, all that matters to a brand, however, is that the bills are paid and that the order volume increases. Obviously, when you are handling products every day, when you communicate with customers, your sales staff, and fellow retailers you acquire a lot of knowledge.
Can you give us a few examples and name some recent projects? Just for our readers to understand your job better.
For a full year, Hypebeast magazine hired me as their creative director. The magazine had just undergone a visual redesign and I brought my knowledge from my editorial work and publishing. After all, I have a degree in communication science so I know how “proper” journalism works.
Beinghunted was one of the best resources for higher-end streetwear in the first decade of the millennium. Despite the enormous potential you never seemed to have the ambition to turn this into a Hypebeast or Highsnob. Why? Too early?
I had the initial idea for the website in 1999. Back then it was very expensive to host a website. It was not until I had my own company – and server – that I put something up in 2001. It was a private project for a small group of people to communicate about stuff that was not for everyone. This notion is something deeply rooted in my character, which I share with friends from that time. You did not explain stuff that you were into to someone else.
I do not look at hypesites today and think “that could have been me”, as I know that that would not have been my format. What I do regret, though, is that there were several concepts before Beinghunted, and during my active time, that are now major tech giants. In 1996 I hosted an image feed on my university account. It was a fixed square format (500 x 500 pixels), just photos or designs, no text, no comments. And on Beinghunted I introduced a section called “quick links” in 2003 which was a text-only feed of 1-2 lines maximum (sometimes with an image pop-up) so I could publish news quickly, spontaneously. You see – I could be Instagram and Twitter today… [laughs].
What is your opinion on the way media in streetwear and sneakers have changed since those early days?
I started the site to write about things I was interested in and that I thought mattered. If it did not matter I would not have it on Beinghunted. That is why I took – and still take – great care in the editorial side of the site as well as the projects we worked on as an agency. If you do something that will reach a lot of people, in this case the younger generation, you need to do it properly.
How often do you find yourself on the hunt these days? How has that drive developed over time, especially with regards to what you do?
Those ten years in retail cured me a bit. When you are at the source, when you only have to order what you had to hunt before, it gets less exciting. Obviously, there are things I would love to have, that I would like to “hunt”, but those would be more art-related, and in many cases harder to acquire from a financial point of view. It is a lot easier to get everything else, clothing, sneakers, etc. But at one point, at a certain age, your priorities change, naturally.
Can you name a few things that you simply had to have in 2016?
I finally got a pair of the Air Jordan V with the NIKE embroidery at the heel. I had a pair back in 1991, then the first retro which I sold. I never liked the Jumpan logo. There are a few books that I am happy to have purchased – Ari Marcopoulos’ “Epiphany” for Gucci, the catalogue for George Condo’s show at Museum Berggruen here in Berlin, and KAWS’ “Where The End Starts” which I have on pre-order. There was the Supreme x Undercover jacket with an all over print of Pieter Breugel the Elder’s “The Fall of the Rebel Angels” painting. That is an absolute highlight. I was also happy to get Mark Gonzales’ “Angel” toy from Medicom as that was a Japan-only release. There are a few other bits and bobs from visvim, Stone Island, Acronym.
What are you looking forward to in the future?
I am looking forward to working on more exciting and challenging projects with the people and brands I have gotten to know over the past few years. I would love to travel more, to meet more people – always – and get to see more of the world. I am looking forward to living in the countryside which is something I’ve dreamt about for some time now. And, always, I am looking forward to making more products myself.