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Monday, April 22, 2013
Inside The Line With UXA

By Anthony Pappalardo
XGames.com

When asked about the name UXA, co-founder Peter Huynh always mentions that the "X" is a variable. That detail defines the brand itself, as UXA is the variable of NYC brands. It's a concept, a fluid idea and a representation of more than 20 years of NYC skateboarding manifested by a core group who helped write its history.

XGames.com took a trip to the UXA Bunker with Huynh to learn about their current Mutiny Capsule Collection with Mark Gonzales, their freshly released Spring 2013 line and the history of the brand.

XGames.com: Since the roots of UXA come from your design work, can you tell us about your design background?
Peter Huynh: Before I became heavily involved in brand design, I wanted to be a pro skateboarder and a fine artist. During my early years at the High School of Art and Design, I found myself recreating Timberland, Nike and Adidas logos because I was rocking them and felt like there was room for improvement.

I got involved in A&D's Annual Spring Arts Festival. It was my first experience working with a team of aspiring photographers and illustrators. The show's talent consisted of fashion designers and musical artists, including Prodigy and Havoc before they formed Mobb Deep. Later, when I was attending Parsons School of Design in New York, my homeboy Rick Ibaseta hit me up to create the name [and] design and be a team rider for what became Cream Skateboards.

My task was to create something totally different, something focused on the street-skateboarding culture of New York City and, more importantly, something we could relate to. I created Cream's logo, mascot and apparel, along with the art for Rick and Jeff Pang's pro models and team boards as well. Cream gained tremendous respect and was embraced by the West Coast skateboarding culture as the go-to brand for graphics/lifestyle inspiration. It influenced and modernized the street-skate graphic game of the '90s.

Ryan Hickey puts the Gonz capsule in motion on the streets of Brooklyn.

Tell us about the choice of the name for the brand and how you chose the logo.
I love to come up with names, and normally it would come to me easily or naturally. But for this one, I thought long and hard because it had to be it; I had to come up with the ultimate name that not only stood for New York skateboarding culture, [but also] had to be universal. The logo had to have longevity, it had to be street, it had [to] inspire generations to come and it had to be named UXA. I also wanted to create a symbol that represented and stood for skateboarding, because there has never been one, so I developed the Skate-Man Kickflip symbol.

You have a collab coming up with Mark Gonzales. What's it like working with Mark?
I am a huge fan of Mark and have been influenced by him ever since we met in the late '80s skateboarding NYC. I never thought about asking him for a collab, because I respected our friendship so much. We've always kept in touch, and just chilled or go push around whenever he is in the city.

One day he called me from Italy and I had the courage to ask him if he'd be into doing a collab. A week later I got a package in the mail and I just freaked out; I didn't think he'd actually follow through. Mark works in mysterious ways, to be honest; half the time I'm not sure if he is testing my skills or just clowning around.

Then, a couple months later, he was in New York and created a short film for our collab. I am still in shock to be the first New York brand to do a board and apparel collab with him.

In the 1980s, New York had Shut, but a lot of people forget that Supreme/Zoo have only been around since the early 1990s. What was it like in NYC when there weren't a bunch of shops and brands?
There weren't many shops or brands in New York City, and skateboarding products were primarily West Coast brands, so it was difficult to sport all that stuff. Most of the older NYC skateboarders at the time were wearing brands like G&S, Powell Peralta, Vision and few others. The disconnect between the West Coast brands and what was happening in NYC were far apart.

The skate brands we were exposed to were not considering the street/skate attitude of the new generation of big-city skateboarders, so we just sported what we normally would wear to chill and skate. I was rocking mostly Polo Sport, Gap and occasionally cutoff military cargo pants.

I kept it real practical. I would rock clothing that you would only wear to go out to the club. I would also have an extra pair of Nike Dunks to throw on in case I wanted to skate. So it was natural for me to adapt this lifestyle to the projects I worked on.

What's coming in the future for UXA?
Huf and Diamond collab. Start a team. Grow the brand organically and just keep it street.