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Highsnobiety Q&A December, 30 2013

Stevie Williams & Peter Huynh Talk Asphalt Yacht Club, Skating and Streetwear

The brainchild of DGK Founder and legendary skater Stevie Williams, Asphalt Yacht Club is a new brand that aims to create street and skate wear by skaters, for skaters. Seeking out a designer with an authentic love and understanding of skate culture, Stevie tapped lifelong skateboarder and UXA Founder Peter Huynh as the line’s lead designer. As an artist, skateboarder, and entrepeneur, Peter has recently headed up collaborations with Mark Gonzales, Zered Bassett, and Eli Reed, and has worked in the past with Diamond Supply Co., HUF, Nike, and more. With heritage, talent, and two collections under their belt already, AYC is one to watch in 2014.

How did Asphalt Yacht Club come about?

Stevie Williams: Asphalt Yacht Club had been in my imagination for a while. I wanted to bring something new to the skate game. I just had to wait for the right time, and put together the right team of people who were all on the same page.

You’ve both been involved with other skate brands (DGK & UXA) in the past. Stevie why was it important for you to create something of your own and what are some hurdles you’ve encountered along the way?

SW: I’ve created a few things of my own already, and I’ve always felt that if I could do something once, I could do it again. Peter has created some amazing things on his own, and done some amazing collaborations. Me and him go way back, and I always thought it would be cool to do something with him. I know that we see eye-to-eye as far as our vision, and if I’m not up to speed, or he’s not up to speed, it’s easy for us to get on the same page through our track records. It’s a good fit, and I feel very blessed.

Did you two know each other before, and how did you come to work together for AYC?

SW: Yeah, me and Pete knew each other before. I skated with Pete when we were young, in the New York scene, coming up from Philly, a lot of those dudes coming down to Philly…you know, the whole click of Supreme and the brands that circulated around those dudes. Peter always had a dope eye for design. He had a brand out a while ago called Cream, and he’s got UXA out now. He’s just real innovative, real confident about what he does. I can appreciate that, learn from it, apply the things that I’ve learned, and see it all come to life.

Peter Huynh: Yes, I’ve known Stevie since 1992 or maybe even earlier on my first skateboarding trip to Love Park, and later on his visiting trips to NYC.

How we came to work together was cool. We ran into one another at Nick’s (Diamond Supply Co.) birthday party during Agenda NYC. At the time, I did not know too much about the AYC project. I heard rumors that it was an ill setup supported by an ill team of skateboarders that I am very inspired by. I was really blown away to learn from my rep that Stevie and AYC were looking for a creative director for this amazing team. We met a few times over a course of 2 months and I was excited and blessed to get on board.

How is it working together and what areas do you each focus on with AYC?

PH: Working together is intense. Stevie is a magnet for ideas. I have seen him grow up and become successful with his achievements through skateboarding, which is just super inspiring. I take that inspiration along with his ideas and vision of the AYC brand and we both translate them into designs. Our focus is to reach the same goal. Stevie has the vision and I help visualize it into AYC’s collections and it’s branding.

How important was it to bring another skater onboard as head designer? Does this make a difference to the process in which you work?

SW: Well, with the brand that we’ve got, it’s definitely important that we have skate-influenced designers that have an understanding of outside fashion. It’s perfect that Pete skated, because the terminology, the underlying ideas and the language that we use to describe different things, he’s able to bring those things to life. A regular designer is always cool, too, but it’s kind of difficult sometimes to communicate our terminology and slang and have it be taken in the right context. Peter is great with that.

The brand’s clothing feels like genuine skate gear worn by real skaters. How do you channel this in to the designs?

SW: That’s something that me and Peter talk about a lot. We go over it with the team…not just the skate team, but the team manager, brand manager, other skaters. When we’re coming up with concepts, we try to listen as much as possible and apply those ideas to clothes that can sell. Sometimes the things we think are cool and would wear as skaters don’t sell, so it’s a balancing act, finding gear we like that can still relate to the consumer and sell.

PH: Honestly, it is a lot of hard work. The team is a mix of eclectic personalities and heroes in their own right. We have Nyjah Huston, an amazing skateboarder and his daringness is pretty super hero-ish. Stefan Janoski, who by far has the most successful skate shoe silhouette to date. You also have Figgy, Riley, Ben, Derek, Blake and especially Stevie who are just some of the sickest and legendary skateboarders out there. I take all these styles and personalities and try to imagine and tell a special story to incorporate into the line. I am also super open to ideas. I think it is important to look and listen before we go into development and design stages.

Peter what do you hope to bring to AYC?

PH: Wow, that is a tough question. I hope to bring forward thinking and well branded, multi-tiered, high-end street/skate collections.

Is it hard to design with such an eclectic team of skaters in mind?

PH: Yes, and the reason is I have to learn about our team as much as I can in order to create pieces they can believe in and embrace. That to me is the challenging part of balancing out the line for the world’s top skateboarders.

Do you have a favorite skater on the team?

PH: All of them. They each offer a different style of skateboarding and that is what makes them all my favorite.

When will the new designs hit stores?

PH: Spring 2014.

How do you think it compares launching a streetwear brand today compared with 2000 when you began UXA?

PH: That is a good question, when I started UXA there were very little social media outlets, it was mostly word of mouth and street-level awareness. Today, info is at our fingertips and various social media platforms help drive and create brand awareness. One element that still remains the same though is street cred. I believe without it, any brand no matter how big or small, will not be as strong.

2013 has been a big year for the brand. Where are you hoping to take AYC in 2014 and in the long term future?

PH: AYC has such an eclectic and diverse team, I am hoping to give the brand my twist and translate that into compelling stories through high quality collections. As for the long term future, I’m hoping to work closely with the team to allow them to have a platform for their creativity and input, with special pieces to include in the lines.

Asphalt Yacht Club is available now straight from the source.

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