My home girl from London is probably biting her little fingernails as we speak. Tonight is the long awaited launch of her label Y’OH along side KIDS OF GRIME. Kara has one up on most mens street wear designers…as in she hasn’t just screen printed someone else’s design on the front of a t shirt that she copped from a bowl of rice in China. Miss Thang has comes from a high fashion background. She is a trained and experienced pattern maker and has spent nearly every waking hour not only researching her audience and finding out what they like, but absorbing the culture that surrounds the industry. In other words baby girl got skill! In my short time on this earth I have learnt one important lesson, you cannot build a house on the sand and you cannot build success on someone else’s unhappiness. There is nothing but hard solid rock under this ladies house and everyone she comes into contact with leaves feeling a little happier. Sit up and take note and act like you know ’cause although it’s only the beginning, Y’OH is already building a foundation for longevity.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT MEN’S FASHION?
Men are much better shoppers than women (shocked face!) they notice the subtle details and think in terms of longevity. The fact they generally have less items which they wear for longer periods of time means that men have a much more consistent look and through that they can articulate their persona a lot better than women who tend to change their style seasonally. I think it would be better if women did that…buy less and spend more on classic long lasting pieces.
Designing menswear comes more naturally to me. There’s a lot more room for it develop so I guess even subtle changes can be quiet radical. For example the Y-shirt ( a cross between a shirt and a long sleeve tee) isn’t crazy, in fact it’s as plain as you can get, but the fact that it’s not jersey makes it radical.
WHICH CELEB MAN HAS Y’OH STEEZE?
Wow, big question. I like NAS’s style…more so back in the 90s. I’ve got an archive of images of him in amazing jackets and super sick head wear. I recently saw him at a gig in Manchester and he was wearing dark blue jeans, white tee shirt and nice trainers; he understands style is better understated.
But to be honest most of my work is inspired by real people. I used to work in high fashion and although I appreciate it I didn’t really connect with the customer (who has that sort of money to spend on clothes….no one I was hanging out with). So I try to keep it as “real as possible”. In fact big shout out to my friend Davinder who inspired the non-stretch tees.
IF YOU WERE A BOY, HOW WOULD YOU DRESS?
I reckon I’d look very 90s. Ralph lauren shirts (buttoned up to the top) Northface jackets, over sized tees, Nikes (air force 1s ; air max 1s ; air max 90s…) a gold chain and ring…plus some proper strong aftershave.
WHAT ARE THE THREE BOXES A MAN HAS TO TICK?
None of which are physical aspects but I think that they are equally important in constituting style.
Like I said earlier if I man wears a white tee and jeans then that alone doesn’t make it stylish. It’s the way in which he carries himself which matters. If the tee is pressed and pristine then you know this man has taken time to look after himself.
His approach to life. A man who says “I’m bored” a lot ain’t stylish.
I never underestimate manners. How you treat your fellow brothers and sisters will effect how people perceive you.
YOU HAVE DONE SO MUCH RESEARCH! BREAK IT DOWN FOR ME, WHAT DO THE FELLAS GO FOR?
With that you have to consider the individual, the subculture and the society but in relation my research I think it’s easiest for me to relate it in terms of generations. In general I think 25-35s are the most willing to take risks and are looking for something different. Whereas younger men still go for your standard “sportswear” classics yet they interpret them differently. Although they aren’t wearing anything crazy they develop ways of wearing garments within their circle of friends.
WHAT ON A BOY IS A COMPLETE NO NO? STYLE WISE.
Easy v-necks (t-shirts , jumpers anything just no) and woolly cardigans (especially chunky knit cream ones).
YOU ARE A GRIME LOVER AS WELL! HAS THIS INFLUENCED YOUR DESIGNS?
Definitely. That’s how I came across Kids of Grime aka Verena Stefanie’s photographs. Her work documents the whole scene and whilst I was researching I would spend hours browsing her site. I’d say mostly the outerwear. There’s one set of photos of Merky Ace, Rival and Marger (on Kiss FM I think) where they’re wearing their hoods up with woolly hats on underneath. I tried to incorporate that into the hood, so rather than have a peak I flipped it to imitate their hood/hat (the factory where I got the samples produced even sewed it on wrong at first because they weren’t used to such a thing ha ha).
WHAT HAS BEEN A TYPICAL WORKING DAY FOR YOU OVER THE WHOLE BUILD UP TO THE BIG LAUNCH?
How can I make this sound thrilling…I wake up around 7am and just get on with whatever needs doing on that day. I spent a lot of hours on the patterns and making samples for numerous fittings to get the cut right. It’s fairly physical work too. Cutting out fabric at 3am isn’t that fun. These past few weeks all I seem to have done is travel around London . I had days where I would pick up a zip in north London in the morning, then go east to the factory, onto west for buttons in the afternoon then back east to a different factory. There’s so many aspects to it research, design, sourcing, production, costings, marketing…no day is the same really. The only thing that is typical is that I get up early and go to bed late.
Although I say I physically did it alone I had a lot of support and encouragement from my sister Danielle and (my dear friend & writer) Beatrice Alessio. To be fair all of my “twitter family” should be credited because my day to day communication with everyone (which is very much part of my working day) gave me the drive to do the work.
DO YOU HAVE ANY DREAM COLABS?
I’ve been really fortunate in that I have already worked on a few collaborations for this first collection.
Really Dope designed my logo, my labels ,the flyers and the poster for the event. I love their work and so this is only the start of our “working relationship” we’ll be working on a Y’OH x Really Dope project real soon.
I’ve also collaborated with Kids of Grime who the launch night is in collaboration with. I think what she does is amazing and from the day we first met I wanted to see her work show cased in an exhibition.
I’m also working on a project with FlipBox Creative plus a grime producer & MC. I can’t disclose much but we’re making a super sick video.
Sorry I’ve gone of track a bit…..”Dream” collaborations Nike for obvious reasons. It would be great to translate some of their iconic pieces into garments. Northface would be sick. Then there a whole load of people outside of fashion Ron English, Ben Drury, (ummm) Lil Kim haha
AND LASTLY, ARE WE GONNA PARTY LIKE IT’S 1999 WHEN I VISIT THIS YEAR OR WHAT?
Ha ha Yes Tammy we will !