fashion1 [ ˈfaSHən ] NOUN
- a popular trend, especially in styles of dress and ornament or manners of behavior.
We all think we know what fashion is, but the reality is that the definition above barely scratches the surface about what fashion really is. At it’s core “fashion” is simply the physical manifestation of a passionate vision. The one thing that all designers have in common is passion.
We were able to link up the founder and owner of YHF Los Angeles, Philly Nicks, to talk about his recently launched brand. YHF Los Angeles isn’t Philly’s first venture into streetwear, he also founded the very successful Rich Kids Club brand. Philly is one of the most passionate people you’ll meet. And it’s not just about fashion, it’s about business, being an outcast, and life in general.
WHAT IS YHF, FOR THOSE THAT DON’T KNOW?
YHF is a lifestyle company. It stands for “You Have Failed.” Right now it’s accessories. So we have sunglasses, we have socks. We’re working on much, much more. It’s going to be a full lifestyle brand. But that’s kinda how I wanted to start this company. I wanted to bring it out differently, rather than you know, just a regular T-shirt brand.
WHO IS PHILLY NICKS?
Philly Nicks is just a dude. I was originally born in West Covina, a suburb of California. I’m a dude who’s been in the fashion game for a minute. My origin story is I never graduated high school. I hung out with the wrong crowd. I got caught up in you know hanging out with gangs and you know partying instead of going to school. And then one day, one of my buddies got shot in the head right next to me while we were at a Food For Less right after a party. And the blood went all over me, my ear was numb. That was the biggest wakeup call I ever had in my life. I had to jump in a car and just leave. It was crazy how big of a wakeup call that was because that could have been me. That changed my life forever. I knew I had to take life more serious. Before that I went to private school my whole life. I was very fortunate. My parents were never rich. We were never rich. We were low middle class. My parents struggled with rent. They struggled to even put me in school. But my parents wanted a better life for my sister and I. So you know they struggled and they hustled to get us in a better position in life. I was foolish at that time. I took advantage of it. I ended up in public school and not graduating. I still don’t have a diploma right now. But I am far from stupid.
WHEN DID YOU GET STARTED IN FASHION?
I was like 20, 21. Even younger. Back in my party days I was like 17/18 and I used to make my own t-shirts. You know puffy paint. Just splattering on shirts. You know iron ons. I just made t-shirts for me and all my friends in the party crew. I used to be in a party crew. That’s how it started. You know as time went on my curiosity for fashion kept taking me somewhere else. Next thing you know I’m going to trade shows. I’d go to MAGIC and try to sneak in. Hitting up people like “Yo, how can I get a badge?” And I found myself in the trade shows and I’d always run into the OGs. I’d run into Nicky Diamonds and Ben Baller and I’d see them like “Oh shit, I was just looking at this guy on the blogs and they’re right here.” I’d just talk to brands like “How did you get into the game?” Just getting a feel for it. I loved the streetwear game. I was always into streetwear.
SOME OF YOUR DESIGNS ARE REALLY FASHION FORWARD, HAVE YOU EVER DESIGNED SOMETHING AND THOUGHT “THIS IS TOO FAR?”
Wait until you see the t-shirts! I’m pushing the envelope. This brand is more for the outcasts; the rebel inside of every human being. Everyone wants to focus on aesthetics. That’s dope. But I want to focus on…everybody has a bad part of them. Even if you’re a good human being, everyone has some sin. We’re kind of highlighting the sin. Yeah, some stuff might be too far, but I know who I am as a designer, as a person, and as a man. There’s so much more that I want to create other clothing and brands. I want to create furniture and architecture. Many things.
HOW DO YOU STAY AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION?
I stay ahead of the competition, by not caring about the competition. I don’t care what these other brands are doing. We’re doing what we do. It’s just pure creativity. And I’m so happy with the position that I’m in.
WHAT’S BEEN THE HARDEST PART ABOUT BUILDING YOUR BRAND?
Shit, you know what you can see from Kanye, no matter how high up you go, you’re always going to be tested. There are always going to be critics. Always going to be people saying you’re not good enough. That’s never going to stop. The gatekeepers trying to block you. No matter how much money you have in the bank, guess what ? It’s never going to be enough. Until you make it enough. Every single day is a hard part of building a brand. Every single day you keep working on your business you keep growing, have a strong team with you, keep learning and that’s how you’re going to succeed.
WHAT’S ONE FASHION TREND YOU’D LIKE TO SEE RETIRED FOR GOOD?
None. Individuality is key. If we got rid of something, everyone’s going to dress some other way. The more outrageous stuff I don’t understand or the more stuff “regular” people don’t understand that’s good. Because that’s individuality right there.
WHAT CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO FROM YHF IN THE FUTURE?
Clothes! Parties! More sunglasses! More socks! A freakin’ retail store. Very soon! You just gotta stay tuned. You gotta stay watching. Shoes! I wanna do shoes. I wanna do every single thing for the rebellious person. Get ready. You’re watching this happen right in front of your eyes.
All images courtesy of YHF Los Angeles.