Once upon a time in a town in Southern California, there was a thirty-five year veteran and creative entrepreneur who wanted to make clothing in a new way for everyone to enjoy. His name is Jeff “Yoki” Yokoyama. You see, Yoki saw clothing and retail in a unique way.
In 1980, he created and co-founded Maui & Sons, designing fashions for the local surf culture, and began selling it directly to local surfer and kids on beaches and in schools, which changed the rules of the game overnight. The operation moved from the trunk of his car into a multi-million dollar business in a matter of months. Today, Maui & Sons can be found in over 100 countries.
Yoki has gone on to start various other brands including Pirate Surf, Modern Amusement, Generic Youth and Pidgin Orange, the brand for the Mucho Aloha T-shirts. They are very cool. He has also consulted for well known brands such as Stussy and Quiksilver. I would say there is a wave of creative juices flowing here.
Today, Yoki continues to reinvent his design talents by making one-off clothes out of leftover materials in his small shop in Newport Beach, California. He works side by side with partners, Sergio, who has over twenty years of pattern making, and sewing experience with companies like St. Johns Knits and Stussy, and lovingly referred to as the “needle and thread” of Yokishop.
Rounding out this top-notch trio is young Scott Andrews. He has worked closely with Yoki for the past 6 years. Scott is schooled in graphic design, but he also possesses the skills to manage the marketing, production, design, website, merchandising, and will probably even valet your car while you do some shopping in the store.
“Yoki” in Japanese means “good,” and the concept behind Yokishop is to have a shop that does good. Their design process is backward from the way most designers design. They make clothes out of leftover, unwanted and odd remnants, items and products that were going to be thrown away.
They call this process cradle to cradle as opposed to cradle to grave. This is recycling in a most inventive and creative way. They gather materials from The Goodwill stores, from community donations and rolls of fabrics from local designers.
For example, a staple in their shop are their Original Beach Towel hoodies. The towels are donated by their customers and then coupled with vintage hoodies they find at Goodwill stores. Sergio will then work his pattern making, cut & sew magic and voila! They now have an Original Beach Towel hoodie by Jeff Yokoyama ready to be your favorite sweatshirt.
I was fascinated by their Yoki’s GARDEN line – a collection of old worn game uniforms, practice gear, and warm-ups from the USC & UCLA Athletic Departments. They are of no further use to the schools anymore, but Yoki’s team will create new patterns, then cut & sew to create t-shirts, tailgate party tote bags, hoodies, long sleeve shirts, caps, and the very popular USC “Fight On” fingers. (Trojan fans, you must log on to their website to see them. I wouldn’t do a very good job of describing them). (www.yokishop.com)
Yokishop is located on Coast Highway in Newport Beach (2429 W. Coast Highway). This is a shop for their local customers who like to pop in and check out the latest one of a kind clothing and merchandise. You might compare them to your local bakery. They make fresh items every day too, and wanted to make it easy for their customers to pull off Coast Highway and check out their latest inspirations, fresh from their busy sewing machine.
Yokishop is a retail space beyond trends. There is a reason and a story behind all of the goods they collect, show, display and sell. It is a place where shopping is not the only objective. It is a shop where just looking and being inspired is encouraged.
Yoki describes himself perfectly when he says, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business man!”
Aloha Nui Loa!