The Story of Hummel Hive | Grailify
The Story of Hummel Hive

The Story of Hummel Hive

Danish brand Hummel - named after the German word for bumblebee - is a rare specimen among sportswear brands: successful and influential for almost a century, but still under the radar of today's sneaker and streetwear lovers. With Project Hive, which focuses on innovative collections and exclusive collaborations, the company wants to change that, and judging by the current line-up, the plan might well work. After all, it is sometimes said that bumblebees, with their ratio of body mass to short wings, shouldn't be able to fly at all. But they can fly, and they can fly quite well. It is this spirit of conquest that has carried Bumblebee from the beginning - and with HUMMEL HIVE the circle is now complete.

The story of Hummel begins in northern Germany, far away from the traditional shoe capitals of the country, Pirmasens and Herzogenaurach. In 1923, shoemaker Albert Messmer develops one of the first football shoes after observing players struggling at a game in typical Hamburg mucky weather. Similarly, in the same period further south, Albert and his brother set up a shoe company called Messmer & Co. Legend has it that the original name of the brand "Hummel-Hummel" - derived from a Hanseatic greeting - is adopted in the early 1930s. Another twenty years later, the company is taken over by merchant Bernhard Weckenbrock, who shortens the name to Hummel and eventually introduces the trademarks that will carry the brand into the future: The double chevron logo as a symbol for future-oriented action - and the Hummel emblem.

The only way is up
In the 1960s, Germany is on the upswing just like the rest of the Western world. The economy is strong, the spirit is youthful, spectator sport is all the rage. It's a time of footballers flaunting their wealth and fancy hairstyles. And with the growing influence of pop culture and the availability of colour television, clothes are also becoming more colourful by the minute. In 1968, Hummel signs its first official sponsorship contract with the second-division football team MSV Duisburg. According to some sources, Hummel representatives pay each member of the team 50 marks per game to wear their clothes, which are handed over in cash in an envelope before each game. Just one year later, the brand - along with a refreshed, slightly rounder Hummel logo - presents its first sportswear collection to the public and lands an instant success that spreads throughout Germany and neighbouring European countries in the following decades.

By 1980, sportswear had become an integral part of modern everyday life and an industry in its own right. After Hummel has already made a name for itself in its northern neighbouring country by outfitting the Danish Football Association and the Danish Handball Association, the brand is finally sold to Denmark for good. There, the brand is taken to new heights thanks to clever marketing strategies and the signing of the right teams and athletes. These include Swedish tennis ace Mikael Pernfors and Danish badminton legend Morten Frost, who both get their own successful clothing and shoe collections from Hummel. In the early 80s, the brand has long established popular lines for a variety of activities. In addition to team sports such as football and handball, there is also specific footwear and clothing for the defining disciplines of the sports-loving decade: tennis, running, fitness and aerobics.

Taking off all over the world
Hummel is now the largest sportswear brand in the Danish and Scandinavian market and is soon making a name for itself throughout Europe and abroad. Two new collections are launched every year, ranging from football boots to casual wear, purses and swimwear. In 1984, Denmark reaches the final of the European Football Championship wearing Hummel tracksuits, which are officially named the most beautiful of the tournament. At the Los Angeles Olympics in the same year, the Hummel logo is introduced to a worldwide audience through the clothing of the Danish handball team, which is appropriately nicknamed "Candy Boys" due to the colours of the jersey. As Hummel rushed from success to success in the following years - crowned by a contract with the Real Madrid football team in 1988 - the brand also became increasingly visible on the street.

An important turning point in the history of Hummel is the takeover of the company by Christian Stadil in 1999. As one of Denmark's youngest and most successful entrepreneurs, Stadil knows how important it is to be hip in the market. So the brand soon introduces an innovative fashion line based on old tracksuits that becomes an instant success. But in this phase of redefinition, Stadil is smart enough not to neglect the brand's roots, combining sportsmanship, charity and a global conscience by sponsoring the Tibetan national football team - which in turn leads to the unusual sight of celebrities such as U2 singer Bono or actor and Buddhist Richard Gere wearing the Bumblebee jersey to show their support for the Tibetan cause. Fittingly, "Changing the World through Sport" becomes one of Christian Stadil's mantras for his brand.
The circle closes with Hummel Hive
In the 2010s, Hummel enters the sneaker game, which is becoming increasingly important for all sportswear brands that want to keep up with the zeitgeist. For its first collaborations with classic Hummel silhouettes in 2015, Stadil turns to Japan, where the brand already enjoys a reputation as one of the true pioneers of European sportswear. Together with Atmos, a special - and very limited with only 28 pairs - version is created for the high-top Globetrotter model. This is followed by a second Atmos collaboration for the popular Marathona sneaker, this time in collaboration with Japanese brand Mila Owen. Another Japanese capsule collection for the Marathona is presented in 2016 with the label Monkey Brand. In autumn of the same year, the highly anticipated collaboration with Berlin-based brand Overkill is released - and this Marathona version with its purple fades finally manages to put Hummel on the map with many European sneakerheads, making it into some official "Best Collab of the Year" lists.

In addition to Overkill and other collaborations, the HUMMEL HIVE project was officially launched in 2016. Derived from the word "archive", the name Hive alludes to both the nest of a bumblebee and the brand's rich history, which now stretches back almost a century. Hive is a collective of multidisciplinary artists and designers working in their own studio at the company's headquarters in Arhus. Aiming to celebrate modern values such as active living, function over form, diversity and equality, the initiative is rooted in a passion for sports, subcultures and underdogs. HUMMEL HIVE offers entire collections, relaunches from Hummel's vast archive and unique projects with like-minded people - always looking for the exciting intersection between past and future, sport and style culture, while defining new approaches to modern Danish sportswear that are in tune with a globally connected scene.

In the latest HUMMEL HIVE sneaker line-up, the established Marathona running model makes a most welcome appearance as part of the luxurious Nubuck Pack. This pairing - the other part being the low-cut Diamant model that hasn't been reissued in ages - features soft off-white and salmon tones on premium leather. Also making a comeback is the Minneapolis: a sneaker from the Hummel archives, presented in its original shape and colour for the first time since its original release. And that's just what's happening this autumn. Spearheading the entire brand, HUMMEL HIVE aims to continue to inspire fashion and sneaker subcultures around the world with limited edition premium products, while communicating with audiences in an eye-catching and engaging way.

In other words, you can definitely fly!

Latest Sneaker News