Metropolitan 2.0 — An Interview With Keith Hufnagel

January 5th, 2017 | 9:00 am | Features & Interviews | 7 Comments

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Photo by Ari Marcopoulos

The internet has given plenty of pros, videos and companies — or at least an idealized version of them — a second life. Case in point: Metropolitan was a Deluxe-distributed wheel brand that ended in the mid-nineties. It began its second internet life on the pages of Police Informer, a defunct Blogspot page of largely east coast-centric magazine scans before Chromeball took the torch over in 2010. The company’s ads were black and white portraits of skateboarding in New York shot by Ari Marcopoulos, with a distinct non-skate photographer take on the traditional skate ad.

Since then, those iconic ads have been reblogged, regrammed and reposted in every place possible, oftentimes by people too young to have ever ridden a set of Metropolitan wheels. After seeing a few glimpses of Metropolitan gear that was a bit too clean to be vintage throughout the past year, we learned that Keith Hufnagel, one of the original teamriders for the brand, is relaunching it altogether.

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For those don’t know, what was Metropolitan?

Metropolitan was a wheel company. Deluxe was doing Spitfire in the early nineties, and they decided they wanted to have a brand that was more east coast driven. They realized they weren’t getting much traction on the east coast. It was Jim Thiebaud, Chris Pastras, and a few others who developed Metropolitan, which only featured east coast skaters. It was myself, Ryan Hickey, Maurice Key, and a bunch of other guys.

It was a cool but very short-lived company. Spitfire was doing well, Metropolitan was doing decent, and they had to make the decision on which to run with. Spitfire was the stronger brand, so they continued to go with it. We were all heartbroken because we all thought Metropolitan was the best brand ever. It was around for three or four years, but I’m not positive.

Was there any reason as to why Deluxe wanted to start a wheel company as opposed to a board brand?

I’m not sure. Deluxe has done a lot of off-shoots that were board companies. They did Stereo, they did Rasa Libre. Some stayed, some went away. I’m not sure why they didn’t approach Metropolitan as a board company, but maybe their plate was too full.