Garage Brands Interview: Luke Mitchell From YUKI THREADS

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This is our fifth and final interview in our Garage Brands series. In this series, we interview the owners of key Australian brands in the snowboard industry, stocked and supported by us here at The Mountain Garage.

Yuki Threads is one of those companies that gives a shit... They care about snowboarding, and possibly more importantly, about the environment, and humanity. Luke Mitchell is the man behind Yuki, the brand with a strong social conscience, and high standards for their quality of garments. We're stoked to share his thoughts with you on Yuki, their manufacturing process, and the industry in general. Here goes:

BRAND: Yuki Threads

OWNER: Luke Mitchell

LOCATION: Mt Buller, now Torquay.

YEARS ESTABLISHED: 6

Describe your brand in 3 words: 

Quality. Snow. Change.

Give us a brief background on why you started Yuki Threads, and what products you currently manufacture:

The brand was started essentially so we could keep snowboarding and living the snow lifestyle. We were doing back to back seasons, which is obviously sick, but we’d done a few back to backs and we were at the stage of look at this like ‘this is cool, but if we’re going to keep doing this we need to be doing something, building something while we’re doing this’. The previous year Lani (my ex and co-founder of Yuki) had been making hoodies for mates which a few crew were doing at the time as there was a gap in the market. We had another mate Charlie who had started a brand called Obvious which I had been talking to about the in’s and out’s of manufacturing and in the end we ran a couple numbers, took a punt and made our first run of hoodies.

Currently we manufacture a lot of products compared to those days. We still make and continue to develop our hoodies to improve them and hopefully keep crew feeling like they are in the best hoodie they can buy. We have fleshed out the range these days with a whole bunch of accessories, headwear and gloves, we’ve focused on producing outer wear and quality tech pieces, although we have added the element of ‘how’ into our company. Making a great product is one thing, but being able to be able to make it in a way that has a positive impact socially and environmentally is now our aim. So we’re focusing on ‘how’ we do things and what effect that has.

Striving to produce, and do things more ethically, and responsibly with every new line. Photo: Yuki Threads.

What are you most proud of achieving in your business to date?

Changing our production and supply chain to a Fairtade supply chain using organic cotton.

If you could have any snowboarder wearing or using your products, who would it be?

Stale is a pretty rad dude. Wouldn’t mind him kicking round doing some stylish stunts in our gear.

Is it hard to keep up with trends?

If you’re just trying to keep up with trends things would be pretty hard. If you have a vision and a direction for where you are going with your brand and style I think it becomes a little easier. We’re always looking for something new, be it a fabric, cut or even just a tiny detail hit, but that’s more for us as a brand rather than trying to keep up with trends. I think it would be very tiring trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing. We try and steer clear of trends for the most part.

Have you been inspired by any other brands, past or present?

Of course. In regards to style of outer wear I have always liked L1, AK and Burton. Yep, Burton. I lot of people hate them coz they are the man but they make good shit, I really dig their high end products.

In terms of actual brand and what they are about, my biggest hero is Patagonia. They have paved the way in quality products that are socially and environmentally sound. I think they are the best brand in the world. I could rant on all day about them. Another brand who are doing amazing things socially and environmentally is Picture Organics. I think what they are doing as a company is amazing.

Luke recently produced this video to show you exactly where their garments are made, and what from.

Why do you think people connect with Yuki Threads?

I think with any brand there are probably a number of reasons. One of them is potentially the fact that we came from within the industry. Working back to back snow seasons with our friends. Living the snow lifestyle. We were supported by our friends and the snow community and I think that is engrained in our brand. All of these people helped build the brand as much as we did. I think it’s a genuine brand built by the industry it has come from and I think that is why people feel a connection to it.

Everyone is always saying how hard it is for Australian brands in the snow industry. Do you agree with this?

I’m not sure if it’s hard for Australian brands alone, I think it’s just hard for any brand. It’s a small industry. Simple as that. International brands are bigger and that works in their advantage in some respects when it comes to R&D and producing amazing products, marketing, company strategy etc which for the most part makes things easier. On the other hand we have the support from local communities which the international brands don’t have. I think at end of the day it’s hard for everyone but the international companies/brands are more established which gives them an advantage.

What do you personally use/wear the most from your product line, and why?

Depends on the day, but generally on snow on a pow day;

Tradie Pant – Like the fit and style. Along with everyone else I’m digging the overall style. Especially for pow bails.

Gang Related Tee – I love the fit of this long sleeve. Might just be a T but it’s the little things!

Street Jacket – I love this jacket. The fabric is a light weight twill which really suits the anorak design. Super functional with all the details we’ve added.

Legit Mitt – I love leather! These have a nice basic look but are great quality. I like the individual finger lining for cold days.

Yuki Balaclava – Best head base layer!

Skull Cap Beanie – I like a shallow folded beanie

Robin hood – Favorite accessory. Love the look and super functional when the weather actually comes in to keep you toastie and the weather out.

Favorite product in Winter 17 and that we have ever made – The Prodigy Jacket. Super light weight functional tech spray jacket. Huge 4 way stretch, 20k/20k, rolls up into a ball and styled so you can wear it anywhere. Super stoked on this.

http://themountaingarage.com.au/brands/Yuki-Threads.html?sort=priceasc

Some of our Yuki line-up for winter 2017.

Tell us what’s in store for the future:

Our focus has and will always be on creating great products. With the introduction of outer wear we are now working on some great technical products linking the apparel with the outer wear but the biggest thing in store for the future and the main focus for us is taking the focus off the products themselves and concentrating more on how we are making them and what they are made of. How we can make positive change. How we can use the products we are making to help socially and environmentally. How we can educate people about the power of their purchase and what a massive difference they can have purely but considering where a product has come from and the difference with supporting one product and supply chain to another can have. For me personally, I think that is much more fulfilling than just making epic products to use while doing what you love. To be able to top it off by making positive change, that’s what’s in store for our future.

Thanks to Luke for rounding off the Garage Brands series. The season kicks off officially in a few days, if you're feeling chilly you can find Yuki Threads hoodies HERE.