Pressing Questions

The Gilt MAN Q&A: Andy Salzer of Yoko Devereaux

The founder and designer of the newly resurrected label Yoko Devereaux (thanks to, well, us) talks masculinity, American style, and the power of “darkness with a smirk.”

How does it feel to be bringing Yoko Devereaux back?
Working with Gilt has allowed me to return to the crux of the brand. It had grown so much—which is great—but along with that, I felt that the brand was also overextended from a design perspective. Basically, the design became broader and about speaking to a larger audience.

So tell me about this new collection.
Half are items from the Yoko Devereaux collection that have done extremely well, and that people have asked for over and over again. The other half is about developing new styles. That was really a way to keep it interesting for me.

What was your inspiration for the new pieces?
I get to go back to what I feel the brand is about. Keeping it dark, keeping it moody—darkness with a smirk, I always say. Keeping it true to the niche I started with. It’s been great to get back to my personal take on menswear, rather than water that down or compromise it.

And how do you define your personal take?
American designers tend to focus on sportswear, and Yoko is definitely an American sportswear brand. It’s about keeping clothes comfortable. Guys live active lives. My customer isn’t necessarily the guy who’s required to wear a suit to work. He’s not a banker—I do have banker customers, but generally when I think of my customer, he goes to work, he’s in a band, he goes to an art show, he hangs out with his girlfriend. And he does all that without having to change out of one uniform into another set of clothes. When I started, I felt like nobody was really doing that—lots of brands are doing that now. For me it’s also about adding more of a downtown aesthetic. I don’t like sportswear that’s too happy-go-lucky, or too perky. I like to tweak it, bringing in more of a maudlin spin.

Yet you don’t strike me as a maudlin person.
It’s not that I’m a dark person. But everybody that I tend to find interesting has a dark side. And a lot of the stuff out there is a little too girly. There is a very effeminate-versus-masculine story going on. I tend to align myself with the Gareth Pughs or Rick Owenses of the world.

There’s a toughness there, especially with Rick—or maybe I’m thinking more of Rick himself.
[Laughs.] My guy is a little bit sportier than that, a little preppier. But to be able to investigate the darker side of where all that comes from is something that I’ve always liked doing.

Plus a sense of humor. It’s right there in the name.
I was originally sitting around Ana Matronic from Scissor Sisters, and we were obsessed with Gloria Vanderbilt. “Yoko Devereaux” became the Bizarro World version of Gloria Vanderbilt, her arch nemesis so to speak. It’s the same kind of references—the vacations in the Hamptons, the old money—that you think of when you think of Gloria Vanderbilt, but there’s something very provincial and WASPy about her. Yoko I wanted to be a little bit more colorful. Gloria is the person you might want to go to a ball or a gala with. Yoko Devereaux you’d like to hang out and drink beer and smoke cigarettes with and be bad.

Yoko Devereaux, on sale Monday, September 20 at noon ET.

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  3. LeRon says:

    I like the thought behind this brand. I am not a banker, but am always on the go, so this would be ideal for me.

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