Catalyzing Streetwear Culture in Salt Lake City
The first two things that come to mind when Salt Lake City is mentioned are Mormons and beautiful ski resorts. Maybe the 2002 Winter Olympics and the Utah Jazz also, so we’ll make that four. The headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the state capital are unfamiliar with urban and streetwear culture, but since 2012, Caleb Flowers and his brand Hathenbruck, has introduced this lifestyle to the particularly quiet town. Raised in Montana, and making his way to Utah in his early teens, Caleb’s process in shaping an unseen cultural hub has been a mixture of chance and circumstance.
Growing up in a small town where he spent a lot of his time in isolation, Caleb found himself immersed on the internet where he spent researching his passion and interests. This brought himself towards the infatuation towards fashion and skateboarding. Caleb then landed a job at a local skate shop in Salt Lake where he then knew that owning and operating a storefront was his manifestation.
Not only does Hathenbruck serve as a retailer for brands like Cav Empt, Rick Owens, Acne Studios, visvim, and Stone Island, the shop flourishes a space for creativity. Asides from garments, Hathenbruck produces skate videos, mixtapes, and custom sneakers; like their Nike DripMax, Nike Runners, and an exclusive “Hyker” silhouette. With cities like New York and LA are seen as the forerunners for culture and fashion, Hathenbruck serves as proof that you don’t need a renowned environment to find success in a store. We had a chance to gain insight on how Caleb took Salt Lake City in his own hands.
Tell us a little about yourself and an intro what you do?
My name is Caleb Flowers. I live in Salt Lake City Utah and I own HATHENBRUCK(TM). A business that facilitates dialogue arounds ideas for myself, my friends, and other businesses. Basically, I talk to people and I sell people stuff and try to come up with new things that I think are interesting.
How did you spark this idea for Hathenbruck?
It started as a retail concept. I just wanted to talk to other people who had similar interest or at least a spot where I could introduce people to new things that i was interest in. The brand kind of became a souvenir to the conversations that took place in the store and online.I used to FaceTime people and talk about product and ideas. I think just this common bond found with strangers about things we like, as weird as that sounds.
What were your goals at a young age to build this up?
Yeah my goals early on were to get wildly rich and buy nice things but I was very young when I started it and I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to move slow and see things from different perspectives. So my outlook has changed some what over time. I still want to do the same things but “be rich” in the ways of friendship and “nice things” more in the way of nice gestures and giving back is the vibe these days.
How’d you end up in Utah for this?
I grew up in Montana and basically me and my brother decided to make a split for the nearest big city. It was either Seattle or Salt Lake. I applied for a job at a ski resort in Park City. They hit me back pretty fast and like a week later we were in Salt lake looking for Apartments. Later transitioning into working retail at skate shop and learning the ropes a little.
Salt Lake isn’t really seen as a “cool” or trendy city for the field you are working in. How did you come about to put the city on the map and why?
I felt like Salt Lake City was a underdog in the “cool city” category. If you can create something here, you can probably do it anywhere. Also I had a lot of people telling me it’s a bad idea to do stuff here and I should be in LA or NY to do the things that I’m into or to get into a creative or fashion field. I don’t think that they were wrong, I just think that the internet and social media has somewhat become the equalizer in regards to your geographical location. Where you live maybe doesn’t matter as much as it did 20 years ago.
What are some of your appreciations in living in Salt Lake and the culture it has?
I like theirs an opportunity to be involved in the peak growth of a city. I feel like I missed LA, SF, Portland when they had their big growth spike with the dotcom boom etc., I feel like I’m watching Salt Lake have their moment but contributing in a way I guess. So that feels kind of cool.
Do you enjoy being in a place that is geographically more secluded into nature?
Yeah it’s weird. I love nature and seclusion but ironically I like being connected. I obtained most of what I know from the internet. I’m pretty lucky to live in a place and time where I can be outside in a beautiful outdoor setting and still have all the knowledge in the world at my fingertips. It’s crazy to think about.
How do you think things would have gone if you took Hathenbruck to a major city like LA?
I think about it often. I think it will happen. I’m just trying to figure out how Hathenbruck can add value the retail experience that is already happening there. So much cool stuff happening my fear is adding more of same. I’m working on it though. I think I got something.
How does living in a more vast and naturistic environment inspire your work and passion?
Im pretty impulsive, I’ll be like let’s go and shoot photos today for this Idea I have. I’ll get out there and be shocked about the beauty of the landscape. I’ll forget about the photoshoot and be like lets buy property and do a store here or this be a great spot for a movie scene or music video etc. and I’ll start chasing those ideas. Sometimes i’ll execute on them other times its just fun to explore them as therapy or as a form of discovery.
What has been some challenges for yourself in introducing your scene and culture to a new city?
I haven’t really done it yet to be honest. I also think it’s not really mine to claim. I think that most of the things I’ve been successful with doing have already existed and belonged to these kids. I just packaged and combined them different then some of the rest. I’m just happy to be apart of it all.
What are you doing when you’re not cooking up something creative?
I like music a lot. Not so much in a sense of collecting records or whatever but more so just drinking coffee and listening to it real loud.
What can we expect from you next?
I have this vision for vending machines and how they can be used for more than just convenience. I’m excited to share it with everyone this year.