When we look at the longest standing luxury fashion brands two things become clear
Firstly these brands all have a language or motif. Whether it's the plaid of Burberry the Louis Vuitton print called the "LV Monogram or the blue boxes of Tiffanys they all have developed a central and now iconic signature that enables you to see that motif and know it's the brand.
Overwhelming the motif, the brand and the logo itself are inseparable and the relationship has been formed over decades if not centuries (the LV Monogram was designed in 1896 and has been use by the company since then!)
Secondly, these companies / brands have all be known for one item that decades on from their creation and release continues to define them. The Burberry trench coat, LV Handbag, Chanel Number 5 perfume. What sets these products apart is their design.
YOKU was born out of a frustration in not being able to find a men's belt that was designed to the level of these and other iconic products from outside of the fashion industry.
We observed that the great fashion and design companies invariably sold a men's belt but it was an add on to their stable of products, merely another place to blazon their logo on or adorn with their motif. What was missing was the design ethos that underpins all great products.
Our design ethos is centred on our core idea of 'one less thing'. This ethos forms the basis of and the constraint on our design process which ultimately produces the product itself.
Design is a commitment to 3 things. How it looks, how it works and how it lasts.
How it looks
YOKU is committed to designing a men's belt that aesthetically will not come and go with the season. We have drawn inspiration from nature for the unique organic shape. We have been deliberate in allowing the shape to communicate the brand rather than some form of visual marking like a logo or print. We wanted people to be able to look at the buckle and simply know 'this is a YOKU belt'. Our commitment to no logo is a deliberate design choice. The fashion industry is too keen to use the 2 square inches at your waist as a billboard for themselves. Our lack of visible branding creates space for the wearer to pair the belt/buckle with anything they are wearing giving them more opportunities to wear the belt.
How it works
The fashion industry is in a bind. Sustainability is fashionable (regardless of price point) but fashion has forever been seasonal and relies on a business model that seeks to have customers buy over and over again.
To be truly sustainable you have to be durable so building a belt that would outlast its owner informs the design of how a YOKU belt works. Firstly, it has moving parts. Things that move create wear and tear over time or even just outright break. Secondly the belt is secured by passing a strap under the buckle and through a gap then inserting a hooked pin into a hole. This design avoids the crux of the problem with a traditional belt design which sees the wearer having to crank the leather back on itself to take the belt on and off. Regardless of the quality of the leather this action 5+ times a day creates the weakest link at arguable the most visible part of the belt outside of the buckle itself.
How it lasts
Outside of the functional design choices above that help to prevent the belt from actively destroying itself the other main lever is to use the most durable materials with the least amount of treatment or adjustment. Full Grain Leather and Stainless Steel 316 are materials that through normal (or even abnormal) usage will outlast even the longest lived person. Both of these materials will actually interact with their environment and develop patinas which further strengthen and enhance the materials. When a guy talks about their favourite objects they are not only referring to the experiences over time but the stories those creases and colours are connected to.
Our commitment to design at YOKU reflects our values and mission. When you own a YOKU belt you're part of a movement to buy less, own less, own better. Only with timeless aesthetics, intentional design and the most durable materials and construction can we build a defining object that will be as relevant next century as it is today