Bobby Hundreds’ ‘Built to Fail’ Documentary Almost Didn’t Happen

Bobby Hundreds‘ new streetwear documentary Built to Fail is days away from its Los Angeles Film Festival premiere, which is scheduled to go down this weekend. In promotion of his film’s debut, the California fashion legend has penned a new piece for Complex and released a new trailer. Most notably, the Hundreds co-founder opens up about why Built to Fail almost didn’t come into fruition. Delivering a lengthy explanation, Bobby Hundreds explains:

Of course, there were those who refrained. For some, streetwear is still a dog-eat-dog marketplace, and their participation would show support for their competitors—whether it was rival brands or specifically me. In their eyes, my very involvement flagged a conflict of interest. Even though this film falls outside the scope of The Hundreds, some saw it as a branded movie, and the politics got in the way. There was something else, also. It’s not that many of the OGs didn’t want to go on camera. They couldn’t. Perhaps their brand and personal identity were misaligned (they were off-brand, aged-out or uncool, and wanted to hide from their audience). For most others, streetwear had come and gone in their lives, leaving a bad taste. To discuss the brands they founded was a sore subject (they were squeezed out or forced to sell under duress). I get it. Nobody wants to immortalize their break-ups on the big screen, let alone be interrogated about it.

Near the start of production, I remember pointing the camera towards Jeff Staple in The Reed Space. Right off the bat, I asked him, “What do you think about a streetwear documentary?” He laughed, “You’re crazy!” Although the movie is entitled Built to Fail in reference to the tug-of-war between art and commerce, the notion of a streetwear documentary itself is also devised to crash and burn. To showcase everyone’s voice is impossible. There’s a 90-minute film here to discuss over three decades of stories, and that’s just from the brand point-of-view. What about the retailers, the media, and the customers? How far do I go into skate and surf, and how much do I delve into sneakers and rap merchandise? Now compound these elements from city to city, as each country has its own streetwear origins, heroes, and DNA. There’s a reason why there has never been a comprehensive documentary that covers the breadth of streetwear. It simply can’t be done.

And the truth is, very few people are willing to sit through a clinical History Channel breakdown of streetwear. This documentary could have easily veered into a factual timeline of Al Bundy anecdotes. Instead, over the course of production, Built to Fail became less about what happened and more about how and why streetwear happens. It’s about what it’s like to actualize your passion, lose it to the world, and the deafening emptiness that follows success. How do you sell without selling out? Can you go mainstream and stay authentic? These are the universal questions that all streetwear brands ask of themselves, without any right answers.

In Bobby Hundreds’ favors, high-profile individuals such as A$AP Rocky, Russell Simmons, Born x Raised’s Spanto, Jeff Staple and others were willing to sit down for an in-depth exchange. “In the end, this film was about making sure the story got told, as much as it may get dissected, critiqued, or maligned,” Bobby Hundreds concludes. “As a fan and contributor, it is important for there to exist a historical record of this phenomenon—a special moment in time that has not only marked my life, but that of millions.”