Designer Errolson Hugh On Kickstarting The Bottle Cap Challenge
By now, you’ve seen at least one of the many #bottlecapchallenge videos, each more dizzying than the last: John Mayer in someone’s back patio, Jason Statham on a sunny rooftop, Justin Bieber in a grassy field. But the video that helped catapult the high-flying kick challenge into the pop culture stratosphere? You can thank fashion designer Errolson Hugh for that. In a sparse studio, Hugh, wearing a tight-fitting black T-shirt and futuristic black pants, stares menacingly into the camera and delivers a roundhouse kick, spinning the cap from the bottle, and unleashing the mesmeriSing martial arts-inspired challenge on the world.
"I think the thing about a good challenge is that when you see it, you just want to try it out yourself," Hugh explained. "I gave it a try, not even intending to post it. The shot looked good, though, and the reactions from my friends were hilarious, so I posted it after all." He had come across the "challenge" from a few of his mixed martial arts and taekwondo friends.
Acronym, his fashion label, is beloved for its ultra-technical clothes inspired by Hugh's own interest in martial arts. But his video took off in ways that none of the other bottle cap videos previously did. There was just something extra alluring about his video that propelled it to go viral: the focused facial expressions, the slow build of the bottle cap spinning, and the intense gratification as it takes off like a helicopter. In his post, Hugh challenged Max Holloway, the UFC featherweight champion, and the Internet (with some help from John Mayer) took it from there.
There is something quite poetic about the designer behind a brand fiercely loved for its cutting-edge, technical clothes going "viral" for doing a high-flying kick – all while wearing a pair of pants he produced himself. (The brand's "P10-DS" trousers, to be exact.) If you needed any proof that Acronym's ninja-looking clothes can actually be used for ninja-like activities, it's hard to find a more eye-catching case study than this. But Hugh isn't trying to monetise his time in the Internet's spotlight. Where others might have flooded their feed with e-commerce links and self-promotion, not him. (The fact that Acronym collections sell out on day one helps, too.)
"Chatting with many of the other participants has been one of the best parts of the challenge for me. Most of the early ones were martial artists, and I feel like there's a special kind of bond that martial artists share," Hugh says. "It was fun to see an aspect of something that we all love spreading through popular culture and getting people up and kicking, no matter their level of skill."
The designer is taking it all in with a smile. Hugh was actually in the car with Jason Statham when his video first started to go viral and showed it to the action star. "Jason is a big kid really, so I knew right then that he wanted to give it a try himself," Hugh explains. "The next day, when Max Holloway posted his kick and challenged John Mayer, I texted it to Jason, but I had no idea that John would later challenge Jason directly. Between those three guys, the challenge then seemed to take over the world." It's a bizarre social circle and even stranger chain of events: a fashion designer to a UFC champion to a famous musician to a movie star. It's the type of story made even sweeter when you realise the one common thread (pun intended) between Holloway, Mayer, and Statham: they all love to wear Acronym.
"We've all just been laughing and sending each other the craziest clips, to be honest. The sheer creativity and straight 'viralness' of it have been super entertaining," Hugh says. The designer takes his work very seriously but not so much that he doesn’t have time for some fun. His words of advice for finding the perfect pair of pants that can handle those bottle cap challenge high kicks: "You've got to try them on and just go for it. Maybe throw your first test kick slowly, though. It's hard to put pants with blown out seats back on the rack without paying for them."