Hip-hop and fashion have always had a dramatic influence on one another. Ever since the genre started in the 70’s, rappers have been aiming to stay ahead of the fashion trends and get their swagger up. Their rhymes are often completed with braggadocio about their style, fashion sense, and material possessions.
Fashionable tech accessories/streetwear company, HEX, is bringing swagger to gadgets with its wide range of “tech-cessories” (as they call it), all while staying on point with today’s trends within the hip-hop and DJ communities. Artists such as Far East Movement, Snoop Dogg and DJ Green Lantern have been spotted with a variety of HEX products. Apart from the hip-hop culture, the brand appeals to a wide audience, though.
With years of experience under their belt, the California-based brand has grown into a buzzing brand for their innovative accessories. HEX is always seeking to merge the fine lines between new technology and fashion, pairing new gadgets with unique and attractive solution, and yet making them wearable and look good.
With the recently launch of their 2012 Spring/Summer collection — which contains a wide range of stylish yet functional products, such as messenger bags, backpacks, sleeves and watches — BallerStatus.com spoke with Trent Valladares, vice president at HEX, about their proud past, exciting present, and promising future of the company.
BallerStatus.com: Give us a brief history of HEX and how it was created.
Trent Valladares: HEX was just an idea hanging out there in our heads for a while. We wanted to use our experience in fashion and streetwear on a new brand of our own. But, there needed to be a reason for it, so it wasn’t “just another brand”. When Apple came out with the iPod Nano® Gen 6 in late 2010, this provided the spark. We felt the worlds of fashion and tech lived separate lives — function to go with our gadgets never really looked too good, and good-looking stuff was often not user-friendly. So, we developed a watch band design to turn your Nano into a watch. Not just any watch, but a great-looking, good quality piece. We got a ton of press and love. This was the beginning of HEX and we have since expanded this thinking of designing great-looking stuff with tech and gadget functionality in its DNA to wallets, phones cases, bags, backpacks messengers, etc.
BallerStatus.com: In terms of where the company started off, what was the vision you had when launching HEX?
Trent Valladares: The main vision was to bring the worlds of streetwear and technology together. We wanted products that we dug the looks of, but we wanted them designed with features for the way we actually live. So, all of our products heavily incorporate features for iPads/tablets, iPods, phones, and laptops, etcetera.
BallerStatus.com: HEX has been around for quite some time now. How do you ensure business longevity in an ever-evolving and demanding industry?
Trent Valladares: We strive to establish two things : 1) The brand itself, and; 2) Innovation. By the brand, we mean that HEX is more than the sum of its products. HEX is a creative brand for creative people. We embrace the artistic lifestyle as well as fashion. We are involved in sports and music and work with athletes and artists on a regular basis.
The other strength we have is innovation. We always try to make our products more useful than the competition. We strive to innovate and we patent and protect our innovations to further separate HEX products from the rest.
BallerStatus.com: We all know how addicting current, technical gadgets can be. Consumers want to have the latest, newest or most unique gadget. As a supplier, what resources do you rely on for inspiration?
Trent Valladares: That’s a great question. Yes, we stay current on gadgets, and we do incorporate current streetwear taste, etcetera. But, ultimately, we like to take our designs back to classic inspirations. Clean elements of great architecture, clothing, graphics and timeless modern lines.
BallerStatus.com: Apple recently released the new iPad. Months before the official announcement of the product, speculations about it features and size specifications were the talk of day among gadget freaks. Do you already do research and brainstorm about such big, upcoming products? Like, are you working on concepts, or do you wait for the actual product to come out, or for an official announcement to be made?
Trent Valladares: Yes, we try to stay very current about upcoming releases and plan accordingly.
BallerStatus.com: Tell us about the concept behind the current Spring/Summer collection.
Trent Valladares: The idea was to build upon our core assortment. We have a layer of core basic solids called our Recon collection. For Spring, we introduced a little more fashion into the mix with our Fleet Collection. It brings in a clean railroad stripe with tan leather and faux-leather trim details for a classic but modern look. We also like to use great feeling textiles in our products — again because so many times tech bags are so synthetic. So we use a nice heavyweight canvas, which we then treat for water resistance.
BallerStatus.com: You are also known for the watch bands, which have become incredibly popular. Although HEX wasn’t the first to introduce the Nano watch band on the market, it is one of the best in its range. Give us a little background info on the watch band concept.
Trent Valladares: I think we have become so well known in watch bands for exactly the reason you state — we are bringing a better looking, better quality product to market. In our parent company, we make watches (among other things). When a real watch company makes a watch band for a Nano, it will look and feel different than when an electronics company makes a watch band for a Nano, if it is done right. Our watch bands look and feel like real watches and our goal is to make them cool enough that someone would want to wear them, whether they were for a Nano or just a regular watch.
BallerStatus.com: How do you manage to appeal to a wide audience?
Trent Valladares: This actually came pretty naturally. Technology is becoming a great unifying force in our culture. So, because our products incorporate features for the technology and gadgets that we use every day, the brands reach became very broad. Literally, HEX can play for anyone who likes music or has an iPod, or has a laptop or an iPad or tablet.
BallerStatus.com: How would you describe the connection between HEX and the hip-hop community? And, how can they be complementary to one another?
Trent Valladares: I think we connect in many ways. As creative people, HEX connects with the hip-hop community on an artistic level; and hip-hop has always embraced technology as far back as early rap all the way to today’s top DJ’s, so it’s an easy fit. Together, we aren’t defined by our genre. We use the tools available to innovate and progress, mixing media, styles and tastes.
BallerStatus.com: Do you have new lines or designs coming up? If so, are you working with a specific theme and certain colours or styles?
Trent Valladares: We always have new styles in the pipeline. I can’t say too much at this time, but I can tell you they will stay true to the HEX mandate of being great looking and innovative at the same time.
For more info on HEX and to cop any pieces from their latest collection, visit ShopHEX.com.