Herbert Hofmann is creative director and head of buying at Highsnobiety, the brand that started life as a streetwear blog, launched in 2005 by David Fischer. Today, it encompasses a direct-to-consumer e-commerce business, Highsnobiety’s devoted legion of fans buying its products and voraciously reading its content. Herbert grew up in a small city in Austria, studying geography before switching to fashion and moving to Berlin. He earned his reputation as one of the most astute buyers in the business at Voo Store in Berlin. What’s key, he believes, is staying true to yourself and following your gut.

You arrived at Highsnobiety as it was evolving into an ecommerce business. What was the thinking behind expansion into an online store and label?

Herbert Highsnobiety was founded on the idea of curating great and innovative design, fashion and streetwear. After 15 years it was about time to not only write about products but to also work on them ourselves.

As a buyer your focus seems to be on supporting exciting designers rather than being too commercially driven. How important is it to have a genuine connection with a brand?

Herbert It’s interesting. I actually think that a genuine connection with a brand and the designers leads to better sell throughs, but also a better and longer relationship. In these isolated times, it’s not so easy to keep that great vibe, but surely and logically you keep a ‘friendly’ brand longer, even if a few seasons are a bit weak.

How much attention does Highsnobiety pay to staying 100% true to itself – maintaining that total trust the audience has for it?

Herbert I guess we always trust our gut feeling when it comes to decisions and potential new brands. Saying that, staying true means not standing still, but evolving and innovating.

Before you joined Highsnobiety, what were your impressions of it?

Herbert I always found it interesting what David had created with Highsnobiety. He’s always been great at connecting the dots. Mixing sneakers, streetwear, luxury and design and art content is a vision that became totally normal over the years, but he saw it coming.

Streetwear has always been about community, long before social media was a thing. What can the fashion industry learn from streetwear culture and its community?

Herbert The main take away might be that streetwear culture and the community have a strong identity and they stick with it. Fashion usually tries to have a piece of all cakes but tends to forget to focus on its own heritage.

High fashion has co-opted the energy of youth culture and streetwear. How has that changed the fashion landscape? What is Highsnobiety’s role in that?

Herbert I feel like this movement and trend has made fashion and clothing more approachable. High fashion seems more wearable and easier to experience while streetwear has been elevated through references and appreciation.

You grew up in a small town in Austria. As a teenager were you a streetwear junkie?

Herbert I was into snowboarding and skater looks but there wasn’t really a scene. I got into more fashionable directions early, and got very inspired by Scandinavian tourists who became friends in my teenage years.

You’ve settled in Berlin. What do you like most about the city?

Herbert Berlin is so relaxed. Germans might not be considered as the most fashionable people, but you know what? It’s so calming and nice to know that you could end up anywhere wearning any outfit, no dress codes or mirrors in clubs. I like Berliners’ attitude and the city being so green.

What’s unique about the city’s fashion scene?

Herbert It feels like the party, music, art, design and fashion scenes are very connected. They influence each other.

You are not a big user of Instagram personally. Why not?

Herbert I wouldn’t say that I don’t use it a lot. I wish I used it less. But, buying less clothing over the last years, I do try to stay away from Instagram as much as possible. But of course, it’s a great tool to stay in touch with friends and check out what the fashion industry is about. But, above all: it’s a time consumer.

What is the value of a fair like CIFF for Highsnobiety?

Herbert What is the value of a fair like CIFF for Highsnobiety?

What is the value of a fair like CIFF for Highsnobiety?

Herbert I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys have prepared and which new brands you invited to show.

Do you see a role for a fair like CIFF as a forum for bringing the industry together, so that brands can more meaningfully share their knowledge around issues like sustainability?

Herbert For sure, fairs are a place where brands, journalists and buyers can meet and exchange ideas and views – at events and panel talks, but you know fun dinners work well for that too.