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Voyager Journal
Up to bat next: Joshu + Vela at Voyager in November
A few weeks ago I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the studio of San Francisco based bag and leather goods maker Joshu + Vela. J + V’s Noah Guy had just returned from what sounded like a dreamy Indian Summer trip to Montana and graciously invited me to tour his space and give me the rundown on what’s happening at Joshu + Vela. Check out Joshu +Vela's pop up shop at Voyager starting November 8th. 

ed. note: All N's are Noah and all M's are me, below and throughout.

N: So Robert told you we are going to do a shop at Voyager?

M: You’re going to do a pop up? When’s that going to be?

N: November and December.

M: I figured you probably were and that’s why he prompted me to get in touch. 











N: So let me give you the grand tour. This is obviously the sewing room. This is the other room which is always in a state of flux because it is not totally sorted out, but it’s storage, because we have to keep all raw materials on hand before I can say I can do something, and it’s also assembly. These are unassembled bags, so they’re sewn.













Most of what we do is three parts: leather, sewing, and assembly. These are sewn, the leather is cut here, and then we assemble using hardware and we use solid copper rivets. These are probably the most painful, most time consuming rivets that there are.










M: Why is that?

N: Because they require five operations, and most rivets require one. But they are solid copper and no other rivet is as strong as this. Nobody has been using them for the past 100 years except for saddlery and electrician pole climbers. So they are really strong and also really expensive, they are between 20 and 30 cents a piece. At an OEM cost that’s pretty high.

And here we have solid brass parts and then solid steel. The steel is all mil spec (US military standard.) We try to use full metals wherever we can.

This will eventually be another sewing zone. We’re gonna get in a couple more VM-1 (??) This old Singer is a Singer cut-sew that we’ll be using soon I hope. Sometimes it takes a while to get these old machines totally ship-shape.

This is where we store all the leather because it’s dark. We get full hides. We have a lot of leather right now. And then we cut and assemble leather parts here. We’re cutting everything by hand. 





M: Where do you get your leather from?

N: It’s from Wicket & Craig of Pennsylvania which is US veg tanned, supplying the saddle-making industry.


M: How long have you been in this space?

N: It will be three years in February. 








M: Have you been making bags that whole time?

N: Well, the first 8 months was a lot of setup. We started with about two machines, and quickly added 5 more, and had to get parts for them. It took a while. In fact, I’m still setting up. I have another machine on order.

It’s a process, the actual “making” of something. Actually, to be honest, the process comes in making more than one thing, and then making it for a not-so-ridiculous price.


M: Did you start with one model and then you’ve expanded from there? Or did you start off trying to do several things, then realized you had to scale back before you moved forward?

N: Well, I’ve done this before but I’ve never owned my own factory so I had some experience going in. I just rented time in a factory before, and by factory, I mean five sewing machines.

I started with the zip backpack. Looking back on it, it was the most complicated style. We still don’t have a style more complicated. It was maybe a little silly, but in a way, because it was complicated and needed a lot of working parts and lot of moving parts, different machinery to perform different operations, it really got a lot of my machines on line working through that; the binders, the zipper stitchers, all the different parts, all the different leather components (we use two different weights of leather.) It’s still the most complicated, time consuming bag [to make.]

We started with that one product, but quickly we added a tote bag, which is also sort of complicated, but not nearly as complicated [as the backpack.] And I had designed that bag before and I simplified it three times, through three iterations. It’s a process. A super long process.









M: So, right now, how many styles of things are you making?

N: Right now we have 13 styles.


M: And you’re continuing to expand that? Will there ever be a point where you decide you are making enough different things?

N: The goal was to do seven. So we are going to do seven times two, so it will be seven men’s and seven women’s styles. Or seven unisex and seven men’s. We’re slowly expanding. We’re not adding anything more than what we’ve set out to do right now. We’ll probably be dropping some styles after Spring. 






M: Is your background in apparel?

N: It is, actually.


M: Did you always know you wanted to be making bags and accessories? Or has that been the natural progression of your career?

N: I don’t think it’s been the progression, and I honestly don’t think that I’ve always wanted it, it was just something I’ve always done. I actually started making bags in August of 2001 and I have never made anything else but bags.


M: Was that because it was something you needed? What drove it? What was the initial inspiration?

N: I think I was interested in it because it’s a physical product. There’s a few different reasons. One, it’s product based rather than apparel based so it’s a more manageable starting point. With clothing you can’t just make one piece and put it out into the market. The market has higher expectations. They wants lines, they wants collections, and they want it to change rapidly.

M: It’s season driven...

N: Right, they want it to move. So it was easier for me to comprehend doing. 

I personally tend to buy used clothing so I related more to buying bags. I buy bags and shoes new. [Making bags] felt like a gateway to apparel. I’ve always been interested in men’s apparel. With women too, bags initiate change in look. The industry often describes women’s shopping habits as buying a new bag every season instead of expensive statement pieces as a way to refresh their look. And I think with men, men get particularly stuck. Buying something easy like a bag can help start you off in a new direction. 






M: How long have you been in San Francisco?

N: I moved with my family from New York in ‘89.

M: Whoa, so you’ve been here a while.

N: I’ve been here a long time.

M: Do you feel being headquartered in SF is vital to your business? Would you be doing this elsewhere? How does being located in SF affect, or how is it conducive, to what you do?

N: That’s a good question. I ask myself that all the time. Sometimes the answer is it’s not at all necessary because it’s a city that, without sounding judgemental, leans on the tacky side dress-wise. Then the other thing is at times it feels like if you’re not doing tech, what are you doing here? But then, I love this city. I love the accessibility to the rest of California. As a city, it’s beautiful. We have the wind, which we all hate, but it brings in fresh air.

As far as being critical to this business, I’m not sure. I think it’s nice. I like it. There’s an element of uniqueness; there’s maybe nobody else doing exactly what I’m doing here. In other cities in the U.S. maybe there’s something similar. But having been here a long time, I really like San Francisco. I hope that the tech people don’t push us out.

M: Me too. As a fairly recent transplant I’m still trying to figure out everything that San Francisco is. The thing that really drew me here, aside from having some family in the area and my mom having lived here in the 70’s and early 80’s and having an intense love affair with SF, then moving back to the East Coast, but always missing it... that really instilled in me this intense curiosity about this place, but after spending some time here, it was just the beauty, the sheer beauty that drew me in.

N: It is beautiful. And that’s part of it, but it’s also a city where people come to find themselves, and that can be either really boring, and painful, as people are always leaving, but it can also be really cool because it can mean a lot of good, creative energy.

M: Definitely.

N: New York has creative energy too, but it’s also tempered with this strong desire to succeed. They have that which is not as prevalent here. It’s still prevalent, but it’s different.




M: Back to the bag making, how long does it take to actually make a bag?

N: That the thing I’ve been working on for three years, trying to figure that out. I still don’t know. The first bag, the zip backpack, at first I was estimating it at 3 ¾ hours.

M: That’s straight through?

N: No, if it was straight through, from start to finish, it would be longer. It would be maybe 4 ½. That’s why it’s so hard to create a guesstimate. You save time by running a bulk of bags. It’s hard for me to figure out what’s the critical number. Is it 50? Is it 30? Is it 100? At what point does it become efficient?

It may sound weird and business-like, but my bags, to some people, are already expensive, but the zip backpack, for instance, is underpriced for what it is. One of the main elements is the cost of the labor. Sure, the materials are expensive, but it’s the cost of labor, the hours that go into making a bag, that’s what makes it really spendy. Since I’ve started doing this I’ve gained a new appreciation for expensive Italian goods because I now understand why they are expensive.

So it does take a while. Even as we get more efficient I think the making of the zip backpack will still be over three hours, maybe we’ll get it down to 3 ½, but again, I’m never really sure. It’s different than doing custom business where you might know exactly.


M: Your products are not bespoke...

N: Bespoke meaning custom for one customer, no. That’s not our business. We’re small run, bench made production. Still hand made, but in small runs.


M: How many people work with you?

N: Currently there is five people working with me. It’s a really good crew right now.

M: Is that the largest number of people you’ve worked with?

N: It’s the largest number. I’m thankful. It’s a really good crew. We’ve got two people on sewing, two people on assembly and cutting, and now one person helping me with web stuff.


M: Collaboration also seems to be a big part of your business model. You’ve done bags with Tartine, you’ve done bags with Four Barrel. How did those collaborative opportunities evolve and why is it important to you?

N: I wasn’t looking for it. It evolved naturally. It just happened one day. But since I’ve been doing it I really like it. There’s a lot of great things about it.

One, it’s sort of relieving not having to be fully responsible for a design. And two, it’s exciting. I feel more like a designer when having to think about a particular clientele and what they want. Considering both the store owner and manager, and the people who go there. It’s fun and it’s also a less expensive product which is also really exciting and interesting. I think the Four Barrel bag is 50$ and the Tartine bag is 45$ and my average bag is over 200$ so it’s exciting to make something that is still nice but much more affordable. 






M: What are your aspirations for Joshu + Vela? What is your future? Where are you headed?

N: Right now I think the future is working first with Robert and Voyager and having the store-in-store in November and December. It will be my first time doing retail and my first time building out, creating an environment.

I really see that as being the future for the line. It will provide a lot of things. Hopefully eventually it will allow for me to have more reasonable prices. It will allow me to do small runs of unique fabrics, prints, and what have you. And that’s what I really want to do: small run, interesting styles. Instead of working so much in the wholesale business, on a one year swing, or six month swing, I want to release capsules of styles more quickly. Right now I can’t. I can design and produce something in weeks, but if I have to wait for the wholesale calendar it’s like eight months or something.

That’s where I want to go. And I want to do more collaborations. Get people in here with new prints and new styles and be able to bust out 100 of something and move on to the next style or next print. 





M: Lastly, what is the significance of the name Joshu + Vela?

N: Joshu+Vela: my middle name, Joshu, and my original partner's middle name, Vela - who quit the business very early on - before we even rented space.


M: Those are all my questions, anything else you’d like to add?

N: Oh, and I guess the other thing, since I’ve been talking so much about the logistics of the business side of this, is that I want to work with more fabrics and dyes and surface treatments, as well as prints. Working more with the artistry of fabric and fibers.



(All images here within courtesy of Noah Guy and Joshu + Vela- all images copyright ©2012 / All Rights Reserved)

Revolver at the Urban Air Market, this Saturday 10/20 in the Lower Haight!
This Saturday, October 20th, Revolver will participate in the Urban Air Market at its inaugural event in the Lower Haight. Haight Street from Webster to Pierce will be closed to auto traffic. Instead, the street will be lined with booths featuring 200+ independent designers selling clothing, accessories, jewelry, and other items. We've interviewed Danielle Cohen, director of Urban Air Market, about the event and she gave us the scoop on what it's all about. Come check it and us out!



Where did the inspiration for the Urban Air Market come from? Can you tell us what influenced you to begin developing this event?

Urban Air Market began as Capsule Design Festival under it's previous event director, Harris Rosenbloom. When I took over, I changed the name and changed the focus to sustainable design- but kept all of the great aspects of the original bi-annual year show.


I am on a mission to to provide people with fun opportunities to buy special things made by artists and designers. I guess the inspiration comes partly from the fact that I am an art and fashion lover. But I also believe that during our society's age of Walmart and mass production, we should all be thinking about our impact on the environment and our community.



Featured vendor Meg A. Meyers' home decor


What are the goals of the Urban Air Market? How many people are you hoping will attend?

Urban Air Market is a showcase to celebrate local, independent design, and it's also a great way to meet new people and an awesome place to shop. Because it's free to attend, it's always difficult to estimate how many attendees we have. Our last count was about 3,000 visitors throughout the day. 


The shopping experience of Urban Air Market is a bit more old school, like when everyone bought their shoes and soap directly from the person that made it, and their food from the farmer who grew it. People really come together as a community at the marketplace. My long term goal is that we can all get back to that with festivals and neighborhood events like ours.


 
Cute dresses by Rebe 



Fun socks: always a good look, compliments of Argoz


How have you gone about curating the vendors involved in the market?

We have an application process through our website, so a lot of time vendors find us that way. I also go around to a LOT of fashion events and take note of the ones that stand out. What's also great is that our vendors tell their friends when they had a good time and word spreads that it's a great show to participate in. 


Jewelry by Siri Hansdotter




Can you give us a few highlights of people/designers/retailers to look out? Anyone you are super excited to be working with?

Asking me to highlight my favorite vendors feels a little bit like asking me to choose my favorite child! I love the vendors that have been doing the show year after year, since it was Capsule, and I love the new vendors that launch their brand for the first time with us. 
Plimsolls and slip ons for summer casuals


Where do you see the future of the Urban Air Market headed? Is this an event you want to happen with more frequency, in different neighborhoods, etc?



We are expanding into a new neighborhood for the first time with Saturday's show in the Lower Haight and in November we will have a mini-design showcase as part of an SF Indie's DocFest, so yes things do seem to be happening with more frequency. I think with the right partnerships and the right team, I could produce Urban Air Market in multiple neighborhoods or in other cities. In 2014 it will be our 10th anniversary and I'd like to celebrate it in a BIG way.


Where did the inspiration for the Urban Air Market come from? Can you tell us what influenced you to begin developing this event?

Urban Air Market began as Capsule Design Festival under it's previous event director, Harris Rosenbloom.  When I took over, I changed the name and changed the focus to sustainable design- but kept all of the great aspects of  the original bi-annual year show.

I am on a mission to to provide people with fun opportunities to buy special things made by artists and designers. I guess the inspiration comes partly from the fact that I am an art and fashion lover.  But I also believe that during our society's age of Walmart and mass production, we should all be thinking about our impact on the environment and our community.

What are the goals of the Urban Air Market? How many people are you hoping will attend?

Urban Air Market is a showcase to celebrate local, independent design, and it's also a great way to meet new people and an awesome place to shop. Because it's free to attend, it's always difficult to estimate how many attendees we have.  Our last count was about 3,000 visitors throughout the day.  

The shopping experience of Urban Air Market is a bit more old school, like when everyone bought their shoes and soap directly from the person that made it, and their food from the farmer who grew it.  People really come together as a community at the marketplace.  My long term goal is that we can all get back to that with festivals and neighborhood events like ours.

How have you gone about curating the vendors involved in the market?

We have an application process through our website, so a lot of time vendors find us that way.  I also go around to a LOT of fashion events and take note of the ones that stand out.  What's also great is that our vendors tell their friends when they had a good time and word spreads that it's a great show to participate in. 

Can you give us a few highlights of people/designers/retailers to look out? Anyone you are super excited to be working with?

Asking me to highlight my favorite vendors feels a little bit like asking me to choose my favorite child!  I love the vendors that have been doing the show year after year, since it was Capsule, and I love the new vendors that launch their brand for the first time with us.  Some new and returning vendors at the October 20th show to look out for:

Culk Ink (screen printed tees)
Meg A. Meyers (home decor)
Rebe (dresses)
Argoz (socks)
Daily San Franciscan (jewelry)
Blu Kicks (Shoes)
Jasper Hearts Wren (kids)

*photos attached and named with associated designer/vendor

Where do you see the future of the Urban Air Market headed? Is this an event you want to happen with more frequency, in different neighborhoods, etc?

We are expanding into a new neighborhood for the first time with Saturday's show in the Lower Haight and in November we will have a mini-design showcase as part of an SF Indie's DocFest, so yes things do seem to be happening with more frequency.  I think with the right partnerships and the right team, I could produce Urban Air Market in multiple neighborhoods or in other cities. In 2014 it will be our 10th anniversary and I'd like to celebrate it in a BIG way.




Where did the inspiration for the Urban Air Market come from? Can you tell us what influenced you to begin developing this event?

Urban Air Market began as Capsule Design Festival under it's previous event director, Harris Rosenbloom.  When I took over, I changed the name and changed the focus to sustainable design- but kept all of the great aspects of  the original bi-annual year show.

I am on a mission to to provide people with fun opportunities to buy special things made by artists and designers. I guess the inspiration comes partly from the fact that I am an art and fashion lover.  But I also believe that during our society's age of Walmart and mass production, we should all be thinking about our impact on the environment and our community.

What are the goals of the Urban Air Market? How many people are you hoping will attend?

Urban Air Market is a showcase to celebrate local, independent design, and it's also a great way to meet new people and an awesome place to shop. Because it's free to attend, it's always difficult to estimate how many attendees we have.  Our last count was about 3,000 visitors throughout the day.  

The shopping experience of Urban Air Market is a bit more old school, like when everyone bought their shoes and soap directly from the person that made it, and their food from the farmer who grew it.  People really come together as a community at the marketplace.  My long term goal is that we can all get back to that with festivals and neighborhood events like ours.

How have you gone about curating the vendors involved in the market?

We have an application process through our website, so a lot of time vendors find us that way.  I also go around to a LOT of fashion events and take note of the ones that stand out.  What's also great is that our vendors tell their friends when they had a good time and word spreads that it's a great show to participate in. 

Can you give us a few highlights of people/designers/retailers to look out? Anyone you are super excited to be working with?

Asking me to highlight my favorite vendors feels a little bit like asking me to choose my favorite child!  I love the vendors that have been doing the show year after year, since it was Capsule, and I love the new vendors that launch their brand for the first time with us.  Some new and returning vendors at the October 20th show to look out for:

Culk Ink (screen printed tees)
Meg A. Meyers (home decor)
Rebe (dresses)
Argoz (socks)
Daily San Franciscan (jewelry)
Blu Kicks (Shoes)
Jasper Hearts Wren (kids)

*photos attached and named with associated designer/vendor

Where do you see the future of the Urban Air Market headed? Is this an event you want to happen with more frequency, in different neighborhoods, etc?

We are expanding into a new neighborhood for the first time with Saturday's show in the Lower Haight and in November we will have a mini-design showcase as part of an SF Indie's DocFest, so yes things do seem to be happening with more frequency.  I think with the right partnerships and the right team, I could produce Urban Air Market in multiple neighborhoods or in other cities. In 2014 it will be our 10th anniversary and I'd like to celebrate it in a BIG way.




Speaking of bespoked, a chat with Johnny of Obbi Good Label

Revolver and Voyager is super stoked to be carrying a new range of leather goods from Singapore Artisan Leather brand Obbi Good Label. We've got several styles of wallets and belts from this fine purveyor of all things leather. Johnny (Scasi) Low of OGL was very kind to answer some questions about the inspiration behind what he does and how Obbi Good Label came to be what it is today. 


Tell us about your journey: how did you end up producing leather goods? Was it always an interest? Why leather as opposed to some other form of apparel?


In 1998 I was a product specialist, helping an IT company to produce a range of luxury leather related items for use with PDAs (Palm Pilots, Handspring, etc.) My job was to build the brand from scratch, ally with the factories, merchandise the best quality leather and hardware, design the functionality; literally just what I’m doing now, but with someone else's money.

Over the years I have built strong labels and products working for various companies. I traveled frequently from 2003 to 2009, learned a lot about the business trade and met a lot of people. In 2007, I met an ex-colleague who asked me why I didn’t create my own brand and make leather related products again since the brand I built in 1998 had grown into a well known IT label. I heeded his advice and since I’ve always helped other companies to build their brands, why not do it for myself? That’s how Obbi Good Label was born.

In the beginning it was tough. Due to Obbi Good Label being in its early stages, I had to work with minimum quantities, so no suppliers and manufacturers would entertain me, Therefore, instead of relying on others with many years of leather craft skills, I started making leather goods myself, creating very small quantities.

It’s always been my interest to make leather products. There’s no boundaries in making things in leather and leather goods show wonderful patina after use. And this is an old fashion way and the leather lasts.      

It is mentioned in your About Us section of your website that music is a big influence in your creative life. What are you listening to these days? What musicians/groups are exciting you?

Yes, music has always been a big part of my life, especially in my era when there was no internet, just good old music from radio, cassette tapes and CD’s. The main influence is the people making music, all different races and walks of life singing a tune, giving me music that has no boundaries.

I’m still stuck in the early 80-90’s era, and have been listening to the same albums. It’s like the “repeat track” mode. Lately, I started listening to Depeche Mode again after I saw their BBC interview.

All musicians and groups excite me, it really depends on the mood. Especially when you are working on a special project and need some elements of certain types of songs... maybe some bossa nova when making the ladies range??




A key element to what you do and the products you produce is time, age, and wear. A well-used wallet or leather good tells a story. This seems to contradict the ultrafast lives we seem to live nowadays, with so much of what we do being mediated by the rapidity of technology. Why do you suppose customers are attracted to a product that takes time to break in? Is it important to remind your buyers that age is a natural element of the aesthetic of what you produce?

Our works and products are our report cards. Every well worn product is shown whenever a customer uses it. My customers appreciate the breaking-in process and are also eager to show the world how well their OGL product has gathered patina. Eventually the posting of how well the products have worn on the internet will remind others that classic items will not and cannot be replaced. Only technology will be superseded by better technology.

We don’t do hard selling, but we make sure every piece of work we make must be able to age well.




What is the best/craziest story you've heard about an Obbi Good Label wallet? Where have your wallets travelled to?


Well, the most craziest story should be the current wallet tour that started last year. A Long Snake In Lay wallet will be used by 15 participants in the span of one and half years. Every participant will be posting the wallet version of “Where did the snake wallet go?” You can see the stories here: http://www.indigoroots.com/index.php?topic=424.0

Obbi Good Label produces many custom, bespoke goods. This personalization must take a certain amount of dedication and craft. In an increasingly commercialized manufactured world, not many designers produce bespoke goods. Why is customization important to you? What kind of bespoke projects have you created? 


The reason why most designers refuse to do bespoke is because of their operations. The ready-to-wear or used collections are normally the types that will provide better sales returns, and in order to meet deadlines and supplying quantities, they have to outsource, which makes it even more difficult in the coordination for bespoke. And when you have to do bespoke by yourself, you have to let go of the daily work and concentrate on that particular project, which is very time consuming.

Customizations is actually part of our skill improvement programs. It’s where we start making things that we have not yet tried, and therefore we take the opportunity to learn and improve our skill. We will not do away with bespoke because it has become part of our processes in the workshop. We love challenges.

We have made everything. Most recently, I was tasked with making a vintage-inspired ladies tote bag from a picture of Drew Barrymore carrying something similar in a movie, but I had no dimensions and no indication of the brand label. Literally there was no single references. But the end result of what I created was satisfying, both for me and the customer.

What are your goals for Obbi Good Label? What is inspiring you now?

In the short term, we will be focusing a bit more on the ladies line “The Obbies” and creating more range in the  “Brave” series while maintaining our evergreen line.

In the long term, we hope to reach out to all major cities carrying our products, not oversaturation, but developing one key partner in each city.

Our Brave series has had an overwhelming response, we are very happy and content with today’s success, and that has inspired us to work harder.

Thank you.
Johnny Low “Scasi”


See more from Obbi Good Label in our shop! 

Ritualized beauty with SF's very own Nikki Garcia & First Rite
We ladies here at Revolver and Voyager are stoked to be carrying a new line for women, San Francisco-based First Rite. Picture impeccably structured garments for women with an independent streak. This would be the go to label for Amelia Earharts and Katherine Hepburns. First Rite's owner and designer, Nikki Garcia, offered us some insight into her creative process, what makes First Rite work, and why she makes San Francisco home and HQ for her label. Read on, readers.



It's not super often that I get to interview a designer based in San Francisco! How long have you lived in SF? If you're a non native San Franciscan, what drew you here? What keeps you here? What is your favorite thing about SF?

I have been in SF almost 5 years now; I planned on moving here to study fashion design and then move elsewhere, but I fell in love with the Bay Area and California in general. I love the laid back vibe, that I can bike everywhere, and that so many outdoor adventures are so accessible.


When and how did you become interested in fashion?

I have had an interest in fashion my whole life, but decided to seriously pursue design after I finished my Bachelors in Business. I wanted to do something more creative and hands on, and had been altering thrift store treasures for a long time. I moved to SF to attend FIDM and learned everything I needed to know to create a garment from beginning to end.




How did First Rite come into existence? Please tell us about the inception of your line.

While I was still in school I knew my end goal was to start my own business, so I began making and selling clothes in my free time.The line happened very naturally. The garments were getting a good response, I loved doing it, so I set it all up as a proper business and launched First Rite in Spring 2010.




What considerations come into play when you are designing for First Rite?


I think a lot about what I like to wear, what my friends like to wear, what fabrics are comfortable, and what will feel timeless and easy to wear. When there are pieces that I find myself wanting to throw on every day, I feel like I've accomplished my goal.




Some of the items in your range are highly technical garments (I am thinking of the beautiful blazer with almost origami-like fold detailing in the front. It's also so beautifully lined.) Are these garments difficult to produce?

They are time consuming to produce; that jacket alone is comprised of something like 30 pieces, but it's not difficult. I really enjoy making the patterns and sewing the initial samples, and my sewers are professionals that blow me away with how fast they can catch on and finish a project. It can be challenging when I try something completely new, but in the end I learn a lot to move forward with. I put a lot of time and work into each garment to be sure they come out exactly as I pictured.




The aesthetic of First Rite is definitely overall femme, but so many of the designs are beautifully androgynous/subtly masculine. The garments look like clothes meant for adventurous women. Why is this ambiguity important? How do you achieve the balance?

I'm not a girly person, I prefer trousers and a blouse to a dress for dressing up any day. This aesthetic naturally carries into the line. The balance comes in the cut of the styles and drape of the fabric. I love to combine structured, tailored pieces, with softer and loose fitting styles.



What is currently inspiring you?

I am currently experimenting with different dye procceses and fabric painting techniques for my next collection. It has been a good experience for me because I'm not as focused on a controlled outcome like I am with the process of patternmaking. It's been fun developing ideas with the dyes as I go. I'm also loving mix and match prints in dark and neutral pallettes, loose silky layering, and the idea of quilting in clothing.





(All photographs here within provided by Nikki Garcia/First Rite- all images copyright ©2012 Nikki Garcia / All Rights Reserved)
You Must Create

Started in 1995, You Must Create is an English label with two eponymous shops in London. Drawing on diverse sources of inspiration, YMC creates beautiful and bold clothing for the chic and cheeky set. Their designs are clean, a bit vintage inspired, a bit workwear inspired, a bit outdoorsy, and decidedly fun. YMC's designer, Jody Fraser, answered a few questions for Revolver about his processes and inspirations, past and current. 

 
In your "About" section on the website, you've included the sentence "YMC were and will always be defined as much by what they are against as what they are for." This contradiction makes for an interesting point of departure for creating. What is YMC against? What is YMC trying to achieve? Where are the places where these dichotomies meet?

This comment highlights how we are reactionary in our design process. We react against the norm, we are always looking forward, we reject what is perceived as a current trend. My natural instinct when I am designing is to try to reinvent the unexpected.





You've also included the sentence "Favoured designers are those anonymous souls behind the functional clothing of the factory worker, the soldier, and the ourdoorsman." This is a highly utilitarian vision of what fashion can be. Surely not everyone following your brand is a prole, soldier of camper. How do you tow the line between function and appealing to the savvy YMC devotee simply interested in designs with special detail?

These functional designs have always had an influence on youth culture and design. It is impossible not to take from the past, but what is important is that things are not taken too literally; we like to twist things to create something new. I do think our customer appreciates microscopic detailing as the art to this sort of clothing is creating the right balance between style and functionality.



               

 
 

 
There is something classic and deeply satisfying about clothing inspired by military wears. Why do you suppose this is? Is it because form is carefully considered in developing military clothing and equipment? For you, where does it aesthetic value come from?
 
The functionality of military and workwear has always been appealing to me. Everything is there for a reason, therefore nothing is over designed which to me is eternally important.


I love the Radio Buzzy section of your website! It is a fantastic inclusion of rare gems. How much does music influence what you do at YMC? Do you consider yourself a crate-digger? I can imagine you have a pretty extensive collection of vinyl. Does this type of more multimedia inclusion draw any unsuspecting followers to YMC?
 
Being a 40-something British resident there was no avoiding our music and youth culture scenes. When I was growing up music was always my first love and then my interest in clothes naturally followed. The tribal uniforms of the different youth scenes have an never ending appeal in fashion.

I prefer 'vinyl junkie' rather than crate digger! There is nothing better that spending a day at a flea market or record fair; it's my passion. I have been collecting now since I was 13 and have a shed / office at the bottom of my garden dedicated to my collection. I think our fan base has a similar mindset to me.....music and clothes to some people are all part of a bigger lifestyle. For instance the musicians we seem to attract have always been regarded as having sartorial elegance....Paul Weller, The Horrors, The Black Lips, etc.


 
 
Your S/S 2012 manifesto mentions a diverse number of influences: Swallows and Amazons, WW1 military tunics, the Lake District and Home Counties, Belmondo movies of the late 60's, Milanese and Torinese scooter boys and girls of the Eighties who in turn inspired football casuals and the Pet Shop Boys, and now you, to name a few. These influences are worldly in their appeal but also seem especially significant to English culture. Do you feel that YMC is a decidedly English label or is  your scope larger than all that?

I like to think we have universal appeal but there is no denying my roots are in English youth culture. Growing up, American culture also had a big influence. I'd like to think I'm a cultural spoke and am open to ideas from all places.



   


What are your current/newest inspirations/aspirations? 

S/S 13 I was listening to a lot of early 60s surf and girl group sounds as well as rare glam and post punk. Bar the glam, I'd say everything I was listening to has had an influence on the collection. I suppose I create a soundtrack in my head as I'm designing which runs along to my imaginary movie!! 



YMC is available at Revolver.


(All photographs here within are copyright of You Must Create- all images copyright ©2012 YMC / All Rights Reserved)
-Your S/S 2012 manifesto mentions a diverse number of influences: Swallows and Amazons, WW1 military tunics, the Lake District and Home Counties, Belmondo movies of the late 60's, Milanese and Torinese scooter boys and girls of the Eighties who in turn inspired football casuals and the Pet Shop Boys, and now you, to name a few. These influences are worldly in their appeal but also seem especially significant to English culture. Do you feel that YMC is a decidedly English label or is your scope larger than all that?
 
I like to think we have a universal appeal but there is no denying my roots are in English youth culture. Growing up American culture also had a big influence, I'd like to think I'm a cultural sponge and am open to ideas from all places.
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