One less thing
The idea that unifies the entire YOKU brand
By Vincent Turner
Steve Jobs was renowned for coming out on stage at the annual Apple convention held in San Francisco and preceding the big product launch for the day with the phrase 'one more thing'. More than great showmanship, Jobs is actually tapping into a well observed human trait over abundance over austerity.
It's in our psychology and even anatomy to be looking for more. Even in classic economic theory the rational consumer will always choose more over less, all other things being equal
So what does all this have to do with YOKU?
An abundance of choice
The world now exists to provide the end consumer, us, with a myriad of choices. Calvin and Hobbes (as usual) summed it up best with the following strip
Calvin & Hobbes peanut butter, they own the copyright
For consumable items like food, cleaning products etc choice it in and of itself not a bad thing however for durable items, things that aren't consumed, choice is kind of a problem.
Choice turns durable items into disposable items.
Nowhere is this more evident than in fashion, but let's start by looking at mobile phones. Mobile phones were invented in the mid 70s, became a beacon of the 80s, more widely available in the 90s and by the early 2000s were pretty mainstream in the developed world. They came in A LOT of flavours including
- Slide outs
- internal antenna
- External antenna
Then in 2007 Apple released the iPhone, a phone that was all screen, no visible antenna, with internet, a GPS, colour screen, a camera, an app store and designed to be operated with only your fingers. Fast forward 13 years and other than improvements in the hardware the interaction design has not fundamentally changed. For a mobile phone (defined as a physical product we can call, text, video, take pictures and use to perform any other task for which an app exists) it is clear that the design (pattern) is essentially optimal.
Proof of this is that every single phone today uses this interaction pattern + hardware combination described above but even more telling is the data. People are seeing less and less reasons to upgrade their iPhone or Android device as it essentially does everything they need, as covered in this article on CNBC in 2019.
So what does this have to do with fashion or a belt?
Fashion, broadly covering clothing and accessories in our day to day, is an industry built on choice and disposable is the naughty cousin of choice. The business model of entire brands such as Zara and H&M is be on trend, to shorten the cycle between idea and on the shelf so as to be always 'on trend' with whatever is in season. This strategy has built these companies and many more like it into some of the most successful and valuable companies in the world. Amancio Ortega, the owner of Zara, is the 13th richest person in the world.
The model works but it doesn't need to be the only way and for certain items in fashion being iconic beats being on trend. Every so often someone gets a design so right in fashion that it elevates from a season to an icon. Whilst there a numerous examples my favourite is the Manhattan sunglasses by Oliver Goldsmith, as worn by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 classic movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. These sunglasses are still sold today, 50 years later.
At YOKU we believe a belt is a durable thing, not a consumable thing, but to create something that people want to own and wear for a lifetime and still be 'in fashion' 50 years later we need to focus on finding the optimal design for a belt.
We believe the following are the things people like us want in a belt
It needs to exceed expectations on all of the following
- Beautifully designed
- Incredibly well made
- No visible branding
- No moving parts, so there is nothing to break
- Completely interchangeable, so it goes with everything
And whilst no one is asking for this, we believe it needs to feel like magic when you wear it and take it on and off.
We want people to be able to choose YOKU and own it for life. It should go with everything, should outlast the person who bought it and be the last belt you ever own.
More importantly it should be one less thing you think about, one less thing you have to buy again and we hope that when you buy a YOKU you question why other products, especially in fashion, aren't created with this ethos.
YOKU and the idea of one less thing is an idea we want to exist more broadly in the world