Yung Creatives is a series profiling talents of tomorrow across various fields, disciplines and mediums. Skilled in commerce and creativity, find out why these guys are generating significant buzz in the industry.
Twenty-seven-year-old Carlton Yaito has not only mastered the art of distressing denim, but also created a lane of his own in making literal works of art one seam at a time. Luckily, his reign won’t stop there as Carlton is no stranger to the world of fashion design. It’s only a matter of time before he takes the industry by storm and reminds fast fashion that they never stood a chance against a real artist who is indeed sensitive about his craft.
We caught up with Carlton to find out what it took to become one of one in such an oversaturated industry.
How old are you and where do you call home?
I'm 27 years old, born and raised in Queens, New York.
It's no secret that you are the only artist doing what you are doing. Do you ever feel underrated?
Yes, often times I do feel underrated. I always feel like because most can't duplicate what I do, they don't show interest. They can appreciate the craft and I'll always hear "it's incredible," but I've never had anyone stand behind it and push it as I've seen other brands pushed that don't compare to the craftsmanship I possess.
What's the most quality denim in your opinion?
Best quality denim hands down would have to be Ralph Lauren / RRL. There are no shortcuts with their fabric – it's 100 percent cotton, which is always the best.
Are you self-taught?
In terms of the way I deconstruct denim, yes; that I learned over a course of many years. But I also went to school for fashion design (garment construction/draping/textiles) as well.
Where did your obsession with denim come from? When did it occur to you to take the distressing trend to the next level?
It kind of just happened honestly. I use to talk to my boy B.Rick a lot about fashion, he has a brand called B.Stroy. He was always known for the deconstruction of garments, especially for the denim. One day I had distressed a pair for myself and folks on social media went crazy for them. I started taking small custom orders. Meanwhile Brick and I would always go back and forth about new ideas and concepts.
After a while it was like a friendly competition, it was motivating. Both pushing each other in a sense, allowing each other to never fall short, always staying quick on your toes. The further I got, the more I wanted to build my own identity within the scene of denim. I looked for ways to be unique and one thing lead to the next....I discovered a technique that no one had ever really stumbled upon before.
On average how long does it take to complete a custom order?
Honestly, it all depends on my mood. It's not a standard time because it's literally a work of art. All distressing takes between a full day or two to complete depending on whether I'm only distressing or patch working. The artwork solely depends on my mood. If I'm in a serious groove and the energy is right, I may be able to do a jacket in two days. If not, it could take a week. My work is a product of the way I am feeling, which is honestly what makes it unique.
How many people do you have on your team and what roles do they play?
It's just two of us: myself and my partner Tulie, aka @tulieyaito. I push the creative aspect of the brand in terms of what we put out and she holds the title of art director. Any concepts in terms of shoots, websites or styling, she has her hands in.
Honestly, this brand started because of her. I was involved in other ventures a few years ago, but I had gone ghost for a long time. After meeting her, she drove me back to work, motivating me to create again. The brand pretty much is what it is because of Tulie.
From an idea to sold out orders – walk us through the come up.
Many things kind of just happened, but I'll give a lot of credit to Mr. Flawless. Maybe my second pair of jeans were for him. I went from customizing pair of denim to styling a Complex shoot for him, which obviously opened the door for me. I got so much love from that and it helped me establish a name for myself again.
From there, I did a jacket for Mr. Flawless and that took things to an even higher level. He never fell short of showing me love and I'll always be grateful to him for that. Since then, I've done pieces for athletes, celebrities and even some of your favorite rappers, but I don't publicize any of that too much.
What mark do you want to leave on the fashion industry?
I've gotten that question a lot over the years and all I want is to be me. We live in a very unoriginal time and the greatest gift today is originality. If I could reach the world and the common denominator among consumers is that Carlton Yaito is original, then I've done my part in this life and I'd be happy with that.
Do you feel as if denim will ever die? And if so, how will the brand evolve?
We will be wearing jeans forever. It’s impossible for denim to ever die, but oddly enough denim isn't my main focus. I love womenswear. That's where my heart lies because that's what I first learned in my studies. Tulie is pushing me back in that direction. That's what our first collection will consist of...womenswear.
I admire that your social media lets the work speak for itself rather than focusing on the artist. Do you feel it's important for people to know more about the product than the face behind it?
The question itself said it all, yes. Product is more important. Who cares about the actual person? That's a recently created infatuation, where designers need to be in the forefront and in the spotlight.
Martin Margiela could walk directly passed you today on the street and you wouldn't know it but that would never take away from what he's created. I play the background and I get more done.
What do you hate most about fashion currently?
Probably the same thing most true artist hate: fast fashion. Everything is like a rat race, it's all so quick and hard to digest. Before you even get the opportunity to appreciate the creativity, they're spitting more and more out at you.
The factories should be getting the praise for being able to kick out so much work at a time. If you slow this whole thing down, you'll be able to find some authenticity in this industry again. Take away some of the resources and you'll leave people no choice but to learn and be innovative with their ideas. That's truly what we need for fashion to live again.
If you could describe the ideal consumer of your pieces, what characteristics does that person possess?
Tom Hardy. That man has always embodied what I want to be in the industry: talented and mysterious. He's a class act. He remains true to himself. The flashing lights are great, the fame is great, but remaining true to self cannot be forged. That is the person I would want to represent my brand.