THE GENTLE OF MEN – ART X T-SHIRTS

Launching the first week of January is a T-shirt collaboration between Yoko Devereaux and the handsome and talented artist John Arsenault. This is in tandem with Arsenault’s upcoming solo show, opening January 6 at ClampArt Gallery..

We spoke to Arsenault and to Andy Salzer, the creative director of Yoko Devereaux, to hear how all this came about.

How did you meet John?

Andy Salzer: [Blush] Since we’ve known each other for 20 years, it totally redefines the “one-night stand.”

What brought along the collab?

John Arsenault: The Gentle of Men collaboration combines elements of my artwork and Andy’s background in design. Because we have such a complementary aesthetic and long history with one another, it’s a great match for a project. I’ve wanted to do a collaboration with Andy for a while, and this was a perfect way for us to work together.

Is this your first solo show, John?

J.A.: I’ve had eight solo shows over the past ten years. “A Ghost Is Occupying My Heart” is my third solo show at ClampArt Gallery.

Is the party open to the public?

A.S.: We wish it could be. The space only holds 150, so it’s a private event, but it’s first come, first served. That’s pretty democratic.

What’s happening at the shindig?!

A.S.: Well, John’s opening starts off the evening at ClampArt. Definitely check out his show first. The launch party for the T-shirts is immediately following. And that will include sales of the Faggot T, an open bar, a DJ set by JUDY, a surprise performance, and a short presentation on the Trevor Project. We wanted to keep the event in line with the Trevor Project, so thanks to Pussy Faggot (Earl Dax’s amazing project), we were able to keep the talent aligned with the message: Queer and f-ing awesome.

Why did you pick Trevor Project?

J.A.: As gay teens, we both faced our own respective bullying. Personally, when I was 14, dealing with my gay identity was too much for me to handle. I didn’t have access to the kind of support system that the Trevor Project currently offers young gay adults. Both Andy and I related to gay teens feeling like life won’t get any better. With the most recent documented suicides, we both decided to address the situation together. The Trevor Project is an amazing organization determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth.

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HELP RAISE MONEY FOR GAY TEENS WITH YOKO DEVEREAUX’S TEES

If Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project were series of edgy t-shirts instead of YouTube videos, it might look something like “The Gentle of Men,”new collaboration between photographer John Arsenault and Yoko Devereaux designer Andy Sälzer. Growing up gay is a major theme in Arsenault’s work, and now he and longtime friend Sälzer have turned four of his photographs into t-shirts with heart-rending slogans like “We Are All Your Kids” and “Your Ignorance Could Smother the World.”

The tees, which cost $35, will officially launch January 6th to coincide with the debut of Arsenault’s latest show, “A Ghost Is Occupying My Heart,” at Chelsea’s ClampArt gallery. All proceeds will benefit the Trevor Project, an organization dedicated to ending suicide among gay and lesbian kids—an issue which, tragically, has gained a lot of attention in the past year. The designers hope they’ll have a social impact as well as a financial one: “If I can make the transition from gay youth to gay adult any easier for someone else, then I’ve succeeded,” says Arsenault.

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CROSS-STITCH FOR GAY YOUTH

A cross-stitch reading “Faggot” emblazoned across the chest: not the subtlest of statements, but one Yoko Devereaux is proudly wearing.

The graphic T-shirt line, founded in 2000 by creative director Andy Sälzer, has included the homespun insignia in a new capsule collection of graphic T-shirts dubbed “the gentle of men,” with all proceeds to benefit The Trevor Project.

The wearable imagery is based on the work of photographer John Arsenault. “A large portion of my work is based around self portraits, which inherently includes my sexuality,” Arsenault said in a statement. “If I can make the transition from gay youth to gay adult any easier for someone else, then I’ve succeeded.”

The shirts, which retail for $35 and include such themes as “Your Ignorance Could Smother the World” and “We Are All Your Kids,” are available at yokodevereaux.com, with the “Faggot” shirt available at a launch party hosted by New York’s BES on Thursday evening.

Click here for the collection.

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DIY DESIGN : YOKO DEVEREAUX CUSTOMS

Freshly relaunched after shuttering in 2009, the lauded graphic tee pushers’ new custom process lets you pick one of 44 base colors, then select the size & placement of pre-rendered black & white graphics, from a pixelated lumberjack to a zombiefied Mickey Mouse, though if you can’t pull it off you might look Goofy.

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THE RELAUNCH OF YOKODEVEREAUX.COM

After many weeks, the Yoko Devereaux site relaunched today. With a rad new look and a wicked app that lets customers create their very own Yoko Devereaux tee, the brand looks better than ever.

Yoko Devereaux launched in 2000 as a t-shirt brand and slowly evolved into a full menswear brand known and coveted by downtown creatives. Sold in more than 30 countries including a diffusion line “Yoko D” available exclusively at Urban Outfitters, select distributors for the Yoko Devereaux brand have included Saks 5th Avenue, Nordstrom, Colette (Paris), Fred Segal, Odin, Bloomingdales, Gilt and Isetan (Tokyo).

Additionally, Yoko Devereaux has collaborated with the likes of Dr. Martens, Bumble & Bumble, the Gap, Surface to Air, SOHO / Tribeca Grand Hotels, Altoids, GQ and artist Michael Bevilacqua.

“Our mission has always been focused on personal style. To allow our guys to participate actively in the creation process is a pleasure. A custom t-shirt by you and for you – we like that,” says Andy Sälzer, Creative Director.

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Dark Victory

… a prominent example of a men’s wear trend that’s taken root among the young and hip, combining elements of Goth, grunge and glam rock—or “glunge,” as some industry prognosticators call it.

Among the common elements in the glunge aesthetic are a dark fabric palette, experimental silhouettes and proportions, an emphasis on drape, dropped crotches, hooded shirts, exaggerated necklines and innovative seaming details. ”

Glunge can be an esoteric approach to dressing. “It’s feminine in that it’s redefining traditional masculine tailoring, which has been all about an emphasis on fit and shape,” explains Andy Salzer, founder of the Yoko Devereaux label. “This newer look rebels against that tradition: it’s shapeless.”

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Yoko Devereaux Throws Itself a Resurrection Party

As for Yoko Devereaux’s relaunch itself, the sale went live on Gilt at noon today and features new pieces interspersed with popular items from previous collections. Andy Sälzer assures us that this sale will be the first of many to come. Gilt’s sales model will allow the Yoko Devereaux line more freedom to grow at its own pace. Sälzer says, “Working with Gilt allows me to focus more on the design and less on a traditional fashion schedule.” While he does plan to expand the new collection, Sälzer says, “there’s no rush.”

Clearly Sälzer has kept busy during Yoko Devereaux’s hiatus, but what of Monty the cat, a Store Sidekick veteran and infamous presence at the former Williamsburg boutique? Apparently, Monty has been eating very well over the past year. Sälzer told us, “That fat cat needs to go on a diet!” Hopefully a limited edition Monty printed tee is in Yoko Devereaux’s future.

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Yoko Devereaux x Gilt Man

NYC’s dearly departed men’s label Yoko Devereaux returns this fall, bringing with it a “dark and clever smirk.” The capsule collection created for Gilt Man includes signature pieces—like its oft-imitated fleece blazer—as well as new designs that also mix refined tailoring with unexpected fabrics and edgier silhouettes.

While the recession forced Yoko Deveraux to come to a grinding halt in 2009 after eight years in business, designer Andy Salzer explains that “as painful as it was at the time,” the break from the grueling production schedule gave him the chance to “actually step back and get some long overdue perspective,” as well as seize opportunities he couldn’t have previously considered.

With Yoko Deveraux already on their list of potential collaborators before the label closed, Gilt Man met with Salzer to brainstorm a relaunch. Gilt Man PR director Jenny Landry explains part of the allure is that, “it’s only available on Gilt Man, which is the unique offering that our guys shop the site for.”

For Salzer, the partnership provided new creative freedom, but he kept the classic Yoko Devereaux man at heart of the collection. “I can’t imagine fans of the brand wanting it to be entirely a new direction,” explains Salzer. “Instead, it’s important to me that the new items complement the existing designs and reflect an evolution.”

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Gilt MANual

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.

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Gilt Groupe To Revive Yoko Devereaux This Fall

About a year ago we were sad to bring you news of the demise of Yoko Devereaux, the Williamsburg-based menswear line we cherished for a decade.  Now we’re excited to tell you Yoko D is back! Gilt Groupe will exclusively distribute the downtown-meets-uptown line with a revival starting this fall.  We caught up with Yoko Devereaux founder and creative maven Andy Salzer to ask about the new line.

You’ve been consulting since last year’s demise of Yoko Devereaux – even held a funeral in it’s honor at the Box. How did your new deal with Gilt come about? Were they looking to dig up Ms. Deveraux’s coffin?
Rewind a year. Everybody was getting laid off, businesses were closing left and right: people were generally freaked out with a capital ‘F’. Putting Yoko Devereaux in the ground was the best thing that could have happened to me. I had a full year off – the first year in 10 years. And over the last year, Gilt became one of my consulting clients. Inevitably, the question was asked: “Why did Yoko Devereaux have to die?” And really, she didn’t “have” to go away. I just needed a break – an adult size Yoko Devereaux time out.

Will this project include new and traditional Yoko D pieces? What mood are you striking with new items?
This project will start with a combination of both. After 10 years, there are definitely some items that people have been asking for over and over again. Design for new items are going to a darker place because Yoko Devereaux comes from a darker place (she’s technically a zombie at this point). But, clearly, darkness with a sense of humor.

You are known for your collaborative work with various companies and creative folks, how did you collaborate on Gilt with this new partnership?
With so many companies copying Gilt’s business model, this is a type of designer collaboration that will be around for awhile. Gilt has effectively changed the way we interact with fashion (both from a designer *and* a customer perspective). I have to admit that the original creative and development process for design has always felt so slow: design a year in advance, show 6 months in advance, sell 6 months in advance, then wait for the goods to hit stores. It’s a very beautiful process, but the market actually moves at a different pace and has for awhile. Gilt understands the importance of moving quickly and strategically but not compromising quality or integrity. So, with that said, they’ve been a total pleasure to work with from the beginning.

Any new retail location potentials? What of the old store?
For now, Yoko Devereaux is exclusively available at Gilt. And the Yoko Devereaux store in Williamsburg? Have you been by? It’s still vacant and covered in graffiti. It looks really cool, actually.

Will you do a runway show this fall?
There will be a party in conjunction with the launch at Gilt. I’ll keep you posted…

When and where will the new line be available? We can’t wait to see it!
End of August / Early September exclusively at Gilt

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