A short Q&A with Yes No Maybe - Independent UK Lifestyle Brand and design house.
What’s the story?
The essence of existence is to make decisions.
We are all bombarded with questions every day, trying to filter our constantly expanding choices.
It’s decision time, all the time.
They teach us in school and the media that we can do anything if we want it enough and work hard enough.
So what do you want to do?
YNM is for everyone that knows they dont know.
Where are you from?
We come from North London. But the graphics featured on YNM garments have come from all over the world and from many generations. Nothing is sacred – or should I say, everything is precious.
We are constantly sampling new product lines & designing loads of seasons ahead and you will often find them planning collaborations with like-minded UK talent. Sometimes we even get round to making those ideas reality – and that’s when you get to buy them! HOORAY!
Yes No Maybe are always learning stuff. Are you?
What is it all about?
YNM design and make Bold, fresh and original London streetwear. We try to provide high quality, original pieces every time. No Bullshit.
The brand was founded on indecisiveness. Everything in life is a bit yes…No…maybe? We realized the answer may be just that. Socrates wrote “The only true wisdom consists of knowing you know nothing”. Well, that’s us.
What are the plans for the future?
To do what we do, to keep evolving, and to only deal with the real.
We are looking to continue steadily expanding our stockist base across the UK, as well as open key accounts in New York, Japan, Sydney and Europe. As far as product goes, we will introduce a Denim line in good time, some great knitwear,jackets, more accessories and perhaps some more stuffed fabric pals for Donnie. He gets lonely, poor little bastard.
Thinking Hurts. The very essence of existence is to make decisions - from the second we open our eyes in the morning, we are constantly filtering choices. We are bombarded with questions that need answers every day. YNM is for everyone who knows that they don’t know. ‘Yes No Maybe’ was the first thing we were ever really sure about.
What makes us happy?
Making things, Breaking things and Taking things.
For ultimate wellbeing, Yes No Maybe strongly recommends making all your favourite pastimes rhyme.
Oh, and spray-painting things.
WANT MORE? NOW HEAR THIS!
Here is a chance for me to answer all those other questions that you have about Yes No Maybe clothing.
A chance to get it all out in the open.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Yes No Maybe is the fruit of my efforts to create something original, worthwhile and interesting.
That’s what all designers are striving for really, and since we are all designers this story should be of interest to you.
We all need to take time out to design our finances, our goals, our lives. Design is making decisions. Of course the meat and bones of the process is research and Ideas generation—whatever you are doing, but the real crux of the matter is—what you are going to do with all that information? Assess it. Take stock. Make a decision. Yes or No. The maybe is the tussle. Maybe if… Maybe when… Maybe later…. Maybe? - I don’t really know right now.
All those ideas. All those GOOD ideas! There are a bunch of bad ones in there too—but that’s a basic by-product of having lots of ideas…. and it’s great to be able to learn from your mistakes swiftly and move on. My mum always told me if you aren’t failing you aren’t trying hard enough. And it’s true, you know. There are knockbacks every day—especially if you are ambitious—which I bet you are.
Lets be clear about this: Fashion is fickle. Styles change, they fall in and out of favour with magazines, and basically most labels and fashiony folk take themselves way too seriously. And they don’t take their designs seriously enough.
Relationships created with artists, photographers, printers, factories, shops and the general public are also things that I take very seriously.
The First YNM collection was a collection of prints that were sourced from all over the world —some very unlikely places formed the backbone to the artwork—which were collected over time spent in the wilderness after University (Product and Furniture Design at DeMontfort, Leicester) looking for my position in the design world.
Several months I spent working as a junior at a fantastic independent company that would have had me packing boxes and assembling products forever if I had let them. Good luck to them—they gave me a view into the commercial world that I liked the look of very much—a brand of my own was something that began to appeal very much indeed—a label—a company that could put it’s name against a collection of items that can all be marketed at once, things that make people smile, and something that keeps on moving forwards too—adding products to the collection is a constant pleasure and removing them still a struggle for me. That’s why you will find so very many products up on the website.
I was given some screen printing equipment that my dad once used at work—a single bed printing unit and half a dozen wooden screens. Being fascinated by most production processes, I wanted to give it a try so did my research online and bought the neccesarry pastes and binders. I Went up to Bristol to visit my good friend Yoav, where we snuck into the printshop at his Uni and made the first few screens—‘Trapped’ -a print made with my hands and face stuck in a photocopier, ‘Updown’—a picture from a Yoga book with the words ‘Yes No Maybe’ underneath, and ‘Lovely Crests’—a beautiful woodcarved print from the front of a very old record—again with bold YES NO MAYBE slogan—as that’s what I saw it as back then—a slogan.
I trawled charity shops for the following few months (not all the time—but at least twice a week) I would do the rounds—looking for good clothing items to print a ‘vintage originals’ line onto. I have visited charity shops for many years now—collecting pressed stainless steel trays—mostly from the 70’s, and Mainly Danish—with some quality from Sheffield in there too. It’s only really the hospital crap from Hong Kong that I don’t touch. Anyway, that’s a completely separate story—Me and my Pressed Steel. The fact is I had my various charity shop circuits down to a T, and could swiftly scour Leicester city centre, Leeds, or my speciality, Finchley Central and out all over London.
For now we can stick to the vintage originals that I was buying, washing, printing and tinkering with for fun—Sweats, Trenchcoats, Shirts, jeans and a few plain T’s . They were all printed in the Camp Store at the back of the Old Habonim Building at 523 Finchley road.
I spent some very happy weeks in that shed—with a pathetic 50% hit rate on the printing, but a definite passion for the production process emerging.
Being a fairly mediocre graffiti artist from 13—23 years old—I was absolutely thrilled with the ability to extend my stencilling work onto clothing—over and over again, and with absolute clarity and control. There are also parameters to work within when you are customising garments—sizes, number of colours, detail, placement… enough elements to give me structure, and not so restrictive that I can’t express what I want to.
I think thats enough waffle for the moment. let me show you some pictures of our classic T shirt designs in chronological order. Then I can tell you about Collaborations with New Urban, Candykiller, Jon Burgerman, Christopher Raeburn, designersalesuk, The Etchasketchist, The ‘Streetglam’ tequnique, AddFueltothefire, Paulo Arriano, and John Pound.
So what is the Yes No Maybe Manifesto? What does it stand for?
Yes No Maybe represets a lifestyle. Or you could call it an attitude, because that helps us trancend the physical. But I think that sounds like bollocks.
But I have just undone deleting it —I want you to read it —as I do really mean it—even if it sounds pretentious. So this attitude is rooted in the generation who are told that anything is possible—if you want it bad enough. It’s the DIY mentality encouraged by schools, MySpace, Independents the world over, All the social networking sites, Facebook, Flikr, You tube, Channel U—fact is, you can put yourself out there and get to work promoting yourself easier than ever before.
And you can choose not to as well. Opting out is also an option —but not without curious regret for many.
You can choose from more career choices than ever—girls as well —so that ‘Mum’ option isn’t a given any more either.
There are thousands of further education options to choose from:
- More casual or open relationships.
- More morgage options.
- More travel routes.
- More Talkplans
- More drugs available,
- More bundle offers
- More Sneakers
- More ‘alternative suggestions’
- My supermarket stocks 8 brands of Pesto. I don’t have time to feel bad about the ones I’m not trying—but theres always that pang of concern. Have I chosen the right Pesto for me?
- Toilet paper has even more options.
Too much choice can be overwhelming—incapacitating even.
So that’s where Yes No Maybe came from.
Infinite possibilities. Choices, uncertainties and a few chioce moments of clarity.
The Keep Calm Story…
Keep Calm and Carry On - The history of a poster.
In the Spring of 1939, with war against Germany all but inevitable, the British Ministry of Information commissioned a series of propaganda posters to be distributed throughout the country at the onset of hostilities. It was feared that in the early months of the war Britain would be subjected to gas attacks, heavy bombing raids and even invasion. The posters were intended to offer the public reassurance in the dark days which lay ahead.
The intent of the poster was to convey a message from the King to his people, to assure them that ‘all necessary measures to defend the nation were being taken’, and to stress an ‘attitude of mind’ rather than a specific aim. On the eve of a war which Britain was ill-equipped to fight, it was not possible to know what the nation’s future aims and objectives would be.
At the end of August 1939 three designs went into production. The first poster, of which over a million were printed, carried a slogan suggested by a civil servant named Waterfield. Using the crown of King George VI as the only graphic device, the stark red and white poster read ‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory’. A similar poster, of which around 600,000 were issued, carried the slogan ‘Freedom is in Peril’. But the third design, of which over 2.5 million posters were printed, simply read ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’.
The first two designs were distributed in September 1939 and immediately began to appear in shop windows, on railway platforms, and on advertising hoardings up and down the country. But the ‘Keep Calm’ posters were held in reserve, intended for use only in times of crisis or invasion. Although some may have found there way onto Government office walls, the poster was never officially issued and so remained virtually unseen by the public - unseen, that is, until a copy turned up more than fifty years later in a box of dusty old books bought in auction.
Shop owners Stuart and Mary Manley (of Barter Books - Alnwick), liked the poster so much that they had it framed and placed near the till in their shop. It quickly proved popular with customers and attracted so many enquiries that Stuart and Mary decided to print and sell a facsimile edition which has since become a best-seller, both in the [to be continued…]
Lead designer Ben Farleigh at Yes No Maybe was one of the early customers of the poster.
He fell in love with the print the moment he laid eyes on it, and insisted in traveling to Barter Books to see the original - seeing as they were the only known keeper of the poster. and of course he people who resued it from obscurity! So YNM wanted to seek their official approval and see the original! Barter Books, the home of the original poster, fully endorsed the YNM Keep Calm Line, and have started stocking the YNM Shirts. YesNoMaybe.co.uk became an official stockist of the poster.
“The poster was a major medium in a way that it isn’t now,” says Professor Jim Aulich, an expert in propaganda art at Manchester Metropolitan University. “It wasn’t competing with television. It was one of the main ways of reaching people, through billboards and on public transport. This Slogan speaks to peoples’ personal neuroses. It’s not ideological, it’s not urging people to fight for freedom like some propaganda posters did.”
To some, the world in 2009 seems as uncertain as it was in 1939, even if modern-day anxieties focus on redundancy and recession rather than bombs and the Blitz. Perhaps this is why the message still seems so relevant. Whatever you are doing, the message soothes.
Information for the Keep Calm Story: Lewis, R M, ‘Undergraduate Thesis: The planning, design and reception of British home front propaganda posters of the Second World War’: Written April 1997. www.ww2poster.co.uk/research_project/ugrad/index.htm and Stuart Hughes, BBC News 4 Feb 09 “Keep Calm and Carry On - The best motivational slogan ever?”
Yes / No / Maybe Lists:
We love lists at YNM - the help us make sense of things. These lists are what we’re all about. (Work in progress…) We’re always happy to receive suggestions too.
Apple Mac, Run DMC, Japan, love, boobies, Diet Coke, Nepal, warm bed, dreaming, eating, i-pod touch, Stanley Unwin, Brasil, healing, hemp, cold pillow, streetwars, starwars, internet, hip hop, malt shakes, new trainers, matching underwear, Chica Bonitas, Peaches, Summertime, Krispy Kreme, education, Bazooka Joe, questions, answers, good stuff, customisation, Family Guy, The Roots, London, Dubstep, Grime, Stickers, New York, Domino’s Pizza, originality, worlds scariest police chases, chilling, Stussy, charity, nature, power, Samurai, respect, playing, freedom, catfighting, Ireland, Garbage Pail Kids, Gideon Conn, Zen gardens, Dizze Rascal, Stevie Wonder, herb grinders, Stanley Unwin, Manchester, voting, snow, Mambo, getting paid, Graphotism, Fed-Ex, life, Sharing, 1xtra, dancing, Danish pressed stainless steel, Breakbeat, Dre, Bob Marley, Jaffa Cakes, Mexican wrestling, Post-It-Notes, sex, Mariocart, fire, flowers, plenty, football, king skins, Chinese food, peace, Yak, originality, House of Pain, Tiger beer, England, ninjas, Photoshop, comics, Montana Gold, Marmite, hoopy earrings, little hidey holes, enlightenment, reloading, Slick Rick, time capsule, Back to the Future, The Goonies, Stanley Unwin, Steven Fry, the borrowers, Harry Hill, Re-Use, Laughing, Bikes, Tommy Cooper
Terrorism, police brutality, borrowing, Jeremy Kyle, verucas, telesales, traffic wardens, Marmite, Saturday night tv, communism, fascism, oversleeping, Indian call centres, little yappy dogs, Black pudding, rats, getting caught, traffic jams, wasps, burglasrs, hate, pop shit, guns, acid, cold baths, fear, dentists, puking, sweatshops, terrorism, B&Q, cigarrettes, pony tails on men, Goatees, traffic wardens, pigeons, being put on hold, baby reds, grey days, club med, corporates, war, fighting, running for busses, wasps, miserable bus drivers, 3/4 length trousers, dead batteries, landfill, binge drinking, child labour, bullshit, vodka, raism, reality TV, Third world debt, nowhere to park, suicide, mosquitos, wet perms, power ballads, STD’s, A minor, bukkake, text slang, cheap brandy, anchovies, collapsed lungs, angrymonkeys, third world debt, fussing, worrying, streeing, astrology, landmines, sell out, socks n sandals, crashing computers, girls drinking pints, saying never.
Sushi, marriage, absynth, destiny, tequila, all nighters, reincarnation, One night stands, purple, bikers, jelly, flip flops, ibiza, lycra, jogging, steam rooms, tourrettes, fate, capitalism, cats, M&S, tidying up, baths, turquoise, tidying up, S&M, Electric cars, Glasto, retirement, kids, baggy, answers, cumquats, pain, cheating, do less, Nitrous Oxide, Eilat, Roses, channel 5, cycling, amsterdam, religion, memphis design, vegetarian, supersized, elvis, incence, nurture, beards, twister, going freelance, grow your own, custard, pernod, breakfast, cider, scotland, film school, adverts, go it alone, the Euro, order another bottle, Night shift, virgins, democracy, your baby, olives, piercing, minor seventh, ghosts, the city, nymphomaniacs, sneezing, a slice of lemon, swizerland, routine, arthouse, shopping, toll roads, do more, world music, jazz cafe, bi-sexuals, night bus, lib dem, jazz, quitting, nipples, air freshener, careful, God, dogs, dogma, Horse riding, telekinesis, attitude, honesty, sweat, luck, university, stripjoints, the eagles, sunbathing, cushions, swinging, fame, fortune, pensioner chic, twins, recycling, university, luck, ESP, Avocado, hoboes, karaoke, accountancy, rose champagne, war movies, coffee, the big issue, Squirrels, streaking, congestion charging, smell of your own farts, queues, policemen, mullets, European Union, rockets, synchronised diving, anti capitalism, moon boots, bouncers, politics, sell up, tattoos, MILFS, self employment, ignorance, pink
to be continued…. Suggestions most welcome!