Feb 5, 2014

yoke collection

In the heart of Salt Lake City there are two UFO-loving, pizza eating, rad talents
who when aren’t skiing down a mountain or chugging a beer, are developing their equally as rad ski brand, the Yoke Collection. While Utah isn’t necessarily known for its fashion, it is certainly known for its snow and the hundreds of people that spend the better part of their day in snow pants and parkas. But not every skier appreciates the archetypical, XL skiwear and Yoke sought to fill that void. Below is my interview with Yoke maniacs and creators/owners, Erik Olson and Shane McFalls.

What led you to start Yoke Collection?
At what point did designing go from fun to a career?
(EO): We started Yoke primarily as a creative outlet and also as a sort of experiment
in business. We both have backgrounds in the ski industry and felt there weren’t many brands that we identified with. Yoke is an attempt to fill that void. I wouldn’t consider this as a career, or at least not yet. We are definitely in a transitional period however.  Growth has been steady which is allowing me to direct more of my energy into the brand.

Where did the name Yoke Collection come from?
(EO): I grew up on a small farm in upstate NY. The yokes always hung in the barn.
When we started Yoke the name resonated a bit with me. It’s just a name though, I don’t think anyone should look too deep into it.

What matters most to you as a designer?
(EO): Having integrity. Using the seam ripper to go back and fix sub par stitches
when it's likely that no one else would notice or even care. Always having the attitude that you can make improvements with either your design or skill sets.

Are you a perfect partnership? Who is in charge of what?
SM): Erik handles 99.9% of the manufacturing and most of the day to day office tasks. One of the main reasons I was interested in starting a brand was to channel some of my weirder ski videos though, so I'm mainly working on Yoke videos, designs and that kind of stuff.

How would you define the style your brand exemplifies?
(EO): If the ski industry were the music industry, we would be a New Wave band.

What inspires you when beginning the design process for a new collection or piece?
(EO): Thrift stores, old guys with old hats, b-sides and rarities.

What are your favorite colors/patterns to work with and why?
(EO): I’ve always liked colors of classic outdoor clothing. The shades of the
Woolrich 60/40 Parka are a pretty good example. In terms of material, I like working with
wool. I like the way it feeds through the machine. Fabrics that are a bit stout in general
are more fun to work with.    

What was the first piece of clothing you ever designed?
(EO): The first attempts at making a hat involved deconstructing and reconstructing
an old painters cap. It took about 10 tries before it really clicked. I made the next one out of an old shirt. Wore it for a month straight to make sure it held up and then introduced the painter cap to our product line that summer.
What do you believe makes a quality piece?
(EO): Aside from it fitting and being well constructed with appropriate
materials…I enjoy the small details that can make a piece a little more personal.    

What is “Team Yoke” and how can you become a part of it?
(SM): We receive a surprising amount of "sponsorship requests" from random kids,
fans and even some people we already know. To get on the team you pretty much have to be awesome, and unofficially voted on by everyone else.

What are your plans for the future of Yoke?
(EO): Colonize Mars.

To see more from Yoke, visit their site here, follow their Vimeo here
or follow on Instagram @yokecollection

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