The Flight of the hummel Bee
Danish label hummel are well and truly buzzing right now. Originally taking flight from Northern Germany almost a century ago, hummel have cultivated deep roots in European sportswear, sponsoring the likes of Real Madrid, Aston Villa, and even the Danish national team. Now, the hummel HIVE, a huge nest of artists and designers, are bringing in some of the sweetest collaborations in the game, linking up with fellow Scandinavian designer Astrid Andersen for the ultra-fly, retro-minimalist REACH LX 6000.
Overcoming the Odds
Legend has it, bees were never really supposed to fly. The combination of their tiny wings and fat, protuberant body makes them one of Mother Nature’s more alluring paradoxes. Named after the German word for ‘bumblebee’, hummel frequently reference the story of the bumblebee in their founding narrative.
It’s a story of resilience and overcoming the odds. It is, of course, the story of the underdog. It begins on a drizzly afternoon in 1923, when Albert Messmer stood watching a local football match in his hometown of Eppendorf, Hamburg. On the muddy, uneven pitch, the players kept losing their footing and falling to the ground. Messmer, a shoemaker by trade, returned to his workshop and stayed up all night to craft what would become one of the world’s very first football cleats. Together with his brother, Michael Ludwig Messmer, Albert founded ‘Messmer & Co.’, later known as hummel.
hummel would remain in Hamburg up until 1956, when Danish visionary Bernhard Weckenbrock brought the label to Kevelaer in the venerated lands of North Rhine-Westphalia. Weckenbrock established a clear flight path and identity for the hummel brand, famously introducing the double-chevron logo (conveying the forward-thinking motif) and now-iconic bumblebee logo.
Known for being one of the largest Catholic pilgrim locations on earth, the hummel brand would flower in Kevelaer’s sacred lands.,
Propagating their long-established football roots, hummel signed their first sponsorship deal with Duisburg in 1968, a team that was playing in the 2nd German Bundesliga. As part of the deal, every player was reportedly given 50 Deutsche Marks in an envelope for wearing hummel each match.
One year later, hummel introduced their first sportswear collection. It was a hit – particularly in the German market. The bumblebee was, literally and figuratively, getting bigger.
In the late 1960s, hummel introduced a rounder version of their logo. Luckily, the beefed up insignia had no problems taking flight – this time across the globe!
hummel shifted to Denmark in the 1980s and, over the next two decades, the label inked lucrative contracts with Real Madrid (including its superstar striker Emilio ‘El Buitre’ Butragueño), Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa, and even the Danish national team, galvanising huge global support for the brand. Eye-catching moments included the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984 when the Danish national handball team were affectionately dubbed ‘The Candy Boys’ thanks to their technicoloured hummel kits. In 1992, the Danish football team finally lifted the European Cup, defeating Germany in the final, and delivering a watershed moment for the hummel brand.
In more recent times, the hummel buzz has continued into the 21st century, an era seemingly defined by collaborations. Adapting to that climate, in 2015 hummel linked up with Japanese sneaker boutique atmos and fellow Tokyo-based designer Mila Owen for the vintage Marathona – straight from hummel’s 1980s sneaker vault. The following year, hummel revisited the Marathona with sneaker royalty Overkill.
It became a big year for the brand, with the Scandinavian bees finally coming together to launch hummel HIVE in Aarhus. Derived from the word ‘beehive’, the hummel HIVE has built a huge nest of multidisciplinary artists and designers to extract nearly 100 years of honey.
Now, the HIVE are calling in Astrid Andersen’s eponymous label for one of hummel’s sweetest collaborations yet: the REACH LX 6000.
The REACH LX 6000
Unveiled during London Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2020, the Astrid Andersen x REACH LX 6000 illuminates hummel’s century of experience in sportswear with an ultra-fresh high-fashion finesse.
‘We’re really in the process of rediscovering ourselves as a brand’, says Marshall Hook, Head of hummel Design. ‘The Astrid Andersen collaboration is a really interesting fusion of minimalism, athleticism, performance, and some very quirky design elements.’
Collaborating with everyone from A$AP Ferg to M.I.A., Andersen cut her teeth at the Royal College of Art in London, before carving her own path in the fashion circuit with audacious combinations of luxury materials and sportswear.
A fellow student of Scandinavian minimalism, Andersen was the perfect candidate to articulate hummel’s enduring legacy, and establish a new flight path for the HIVE.
‘As a Danish brand, it’s really nice to have authentic stories from a Scandinavian point of view,’ says Hook. ‘It’s sometimes easier to look at bigger markets for inspiration. But it was really nice to find a partnership that was fashion-forward, and still a uniquely Scandinavian story.’
Originally designed for Spanish handball star Alex Dujshebaev, the Indoor 6000 was the world’s most advanced handball shoe. Retaining its vintage DNA, hummel’s updated silhouette includes the all new REACH cushioning technology, providing high-end impact protection and reactive foam compound. Built with suede, leather, and a semi-translucent mesh base, the REACH LX 6000 provides further depth with signature chevron mid-panel branding, and OrthoLite inserts to provide an extra level of comfort.
The debut colourway, inspired by hummel’s archive from the 1980s and 1990s, is galvanised by black midsoles and a burst of radiant orange citrus on the heel.
‘It’s really her own universe interpreted on our silhouette,’ says Martin Ahn, Product Manager of Footwear. ‘Astrid Andersen’s REACH LX 6000 is totally different from the rest of the sneakers we’re putting out. It really stands on its own’.
A stinging mashup of minimalism, luxury and athleticism, the Astrid Andersen REACH LX 6000 is a tour de force from hummel HIVE, and already looks like one of the tastiest silhouettes of 2020. The honey never tasted so sweet.