If you regularly read Rob Heppler’s The Hundreds blog, or follow him on Instagram, chances are you’ll have thought at one point, ‘who the fuck is this guy?’. If he’s not posting photos of himself with celebrities, boasting about how he’s won the DNA lottery or talking up his hair, he’s in the latest LA restaurant or party and rubbing shoulders with people in places you’d never get close to.
It’d be easy to assume then, if you didn’t know him, that he was just some giant douchebag who spent all his days doing all of the above. However you’d be wrong. There is much more to Rob than this, and it’s this that keeps the world glued to his actions online.
For example, most of you won’t know that Rob did time for four years when he was 18 for stabbing someone, was one of the original Hypebeast bloggers, founded and ran the streetwear podcast ‘The Weekly Drop’ and has designed two pairs of Nike SBs – one of which was the infamous ‘Lobster Dunk’.
Rob is a graduate of the extremely selective Wieden + Kennedy 12, a 13 month long advertising course that is potentially one of the most revered programmes in the industry. Needless to say that once Rob graduated, he could probably have had any advertising job he wanted.
Which leads me to this; the opportunity to interview him and find out a little bit more, try get inside his brain, and try get past the wise cracks and idle boasts to the clearly very intelligent marketing head inside. But we’ll start off with the most important question first…
…So who the fuck is Rob Heppler?
I am a “Realor”. Actors act. I’m on 24/7 and it’s not a movie.
Did it all start with skateboarding?
I’m not sure when “it” started but people that skate view the world differently. We are used to trying shit over and over even if the goal doesn’t matter. But my taste definitely derives from there.
I know that you were incarcerated for stabbing someone, how did you go from ex-con to advertising’s most wanted?
When I was released in 2002 I felt so far behind everyone. I got a job at a .com my friend’s family owned and learned every photoshop, dreamweaver, any tutorial I could find. Also sitting behind a computer got me to be friends with Kevin Ma, David Fischer, and Yu-Ming Wu, who own the biggest “men’s fashion” blogs out there. (it’s not cool to call it street wear anymore… or as I call it, fashion for fat kids). This job was crucial in getting me in touch and in many ways on the forefront of everything.
“It’s not cool to call it street wear anymore… or as I call it, fashion for fat kids”
I want to know more about the Weekly Drop, what was it and why did it end?
Weekly Drop was the first streetwear podcast. For me it was an excuse to meet all my idols, and an outlet for my big mouth. It went strong for about 2 years. Then ego’s and jealousy tore it apart. We didn’t even know what we had at the time, not sure if it can ever be re-created.
I know you used to blog for Hypebeast, any other notable contributions to sites over the years?
I had a page in DUB magazine for about 6 years, I loved that. If there is a cool site out there chances are I have contributed to it in some way. Especially http://www.bostonreefers.org
How did you get involved with the Hundreds?
Bobby Hundreds recalls a tale that as soon as the website went up, I was the very first email… and I asked for free shit.
Why no Hundreds podcast anymore?
Did you hear it? It was awful.
How did you get your start in advertising and why copywriting?
I completed the WK12 program. It was life changing.
What sparked the idea for the Lobster dunk? How did it even come about, is it difficult putting out a shoe with Nike?
My local sneaker boutique concepts had been trying to do a shoe to rep the shop for awhile. None of the paid designers were coming with any heat. Celtics and Red Sox colorways aren’t very impressive. I thought what do people that visit the city often want to do. “Let’s get some lobsta!” Lobster is seen as a luxury. Also growing up I spent my summer on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard and I wanted to be a marine biologist. I know everything about the ocean.
We all know that the web plays a key role in marketing anything, but do you think grass roots activity still counts for anything?
If the product is good, it doesn’t need marketing.
You’ve been in this game for a while now… what’s the most obvious change in streetwear have you seen over the years?
Everyone dresses like an 1800’s railroad worker. Fuck denim. Fuck boots. Fuck your moustache. Just be comfortable, and original.
In a similar vein, do you think the internet has taken away from the excitement of new products, with the immediacy of everything?
Nope. It offers everyone the ability to learn about more than they would normally be exposed to. Things sell out quicker, styles and trends change faster.
“Everyone dresses like an 1800’s railroad worker. Fuck denim. Fuck boots. Fuck your moustache”
Your Wikipedia page says you’re an ‘urban lifestyle influencer ‘ – care to explain?
It’s a proactive buzzword that doesn’t mean anything. Now it’s embarrassing to reference that.
Why did you move from Portland to LA, and how are things at Amusement Park Entertainment?
I was offered to work at Chiat Day, which is an awesome agency. Amusement Park gets more incredible every day. I hung out with Jessy Dylan this morning. Puff Daddy stormed out of a meeting once. And professional athletes roll through like is a shower… #pause
How important is being able to sell yourself, and do you think they’re a fine line between credibly selling your self and coming across as a total douchebag?
You can be the most talented person in the world, but if no one can stand you then you don’t get to play in the reindeer games. It’s skills and politics with everything. I just happen to be really good at both.
What is coming up next, I hear you have some things coming out with Nike and Vans?
When you first asked me to do this interview I had an SB on the way… but it was too sensational so it was killed. I have a few ideas getting produced. Some will be obvious but I still have inappropriate shock value left.
Words & Interview by Tom Kirkby
Photos courtesy of Rob Heppler