Interview: The Man Behind Native Youth
After becoming disenchanted by the consumer menswear industry and the lack of access to truly affordable, trend-led product, Manchester based entrepreneur Ash Kumar started Native Youth, a brand that is going from strength to strength and giving men exactly what they want without having to break the bank. Dapper Chapper thought we should have a little chat with the man behind the exciting new offer.
Can you tell us a little bit about your past and what led you to start your very own brand Native Youth?
Around 4-5 years ago the menswear branded sector was a very different place and my friends and I were getting frustrated at the limited access to a more affordable, but fashion forward market.
We found that you could either shop the high street – a cheap but not particularly trend led option – or alternatively there was the super expensive brand option that meant you could invest in maybe one piece per season.
I wanted to bring a fashion brand to the market offering quality fabrics and trend-led pieces that were more accessible.
What did you set out to achieve with the brand and how has this changed, if at all?
I wanted to release a collection that would be well received and worn by my friends at least!
It’s been amazing that we are now selling in more than 32 countries worldwide and the brand has a presence in so many men’s wardrobes as part of the staple ‘must-haves’.
What would you say were your core values and DNA?
This is very important. At Native Youth we make sure we are sourcing and using the very best fabrics we can as well as intricate wash techniques for our collection, whilst maintaining accessibility.
Who is your target customer and has this changed?
‘Youth has no Age’ is our strapline and we cater for the young fashionable lad and girl all the way up to the more mature customer who appreciates the beautiful fabrics and washes maybe a little more.
We’ve seen you around at many of the leading trade shows, how successful are they for you, what’s the main thing you take from the experience?
It’s an amazing experience to be able to meet many of our customers first hand and build relationships whether it be with a family running an amazing store in Chicago, to the buyers from Beams in Japan or any one of our major retailers.
Where is the product now sold and where do you want to be?
We are sold in some very cool and well-respected stores around the world.
We want to keep growing our footprint organically and build upon our presence.
We can see a clear progression in terms of the product offering, so much so that it’s quite a breath of fresh air. Can you tell us a little more about how this has happend/unfolded?
I have a love of fabrics and clothes so it’s been an organic process evolving and growing our collection and product offering.
The product has some serious style statements going on and bold statements at that. What is the USP of Native Youth, what makes you stand out?
When we launched our first collection we had our ‘core pieces but we always made sure that we had a great mix of fun, stand-out statement pieces.
Having our own signature prints has always been a USP as it brings an element of vibrancy and fun to the collection.
Talk us through the latest A/W17 Collection. What was the motivation, inspiration for the collection?
The collection for AW17 was designed and inspired by the recent issues that we’ve seen happening across the world.
We were inspired by young people rallying around and coming together to make a stand for their futures.
The Chroma Collection features our first ever ‘branded T’ with the Youth embroidered into the chest, we want to give the youth a uniform.
This and the Apex parka are our fist gender neutral pieces.
And the film?
The film is an exciting and more interactive platform to launch the new collection, showing our models having fun in and around the product, which was exactly what they were doing.
Where do you take the brand now moving forward into SS18?
We have an exciting new range coming to you for SS18 with a lot of vibrant colour and prints, we don’t really want to be giving too much away at this point, but it is building on and enhancing the direction we are taking the brand in
What do you expect from the brand over the next five years?
We want to grow into accessories for both men and women alike and grow our footprint around the world. It sounds like a basic mission, but we are very clear on what we want from the business now moving forward. We want to be the go-to place for fashion conscious people top find and access the perfect piece/s for them.
Summarise Native Youth to us in five key words?
Native Youth has no Age