Built on sensibility and a commitment to protect, YASHA are making outwear like nobody else right now! Their jackets are devised to assist in life-threatening situations – without compromising on style, comfort and everyday wearability. We caught up with owner, Joshua McGhee, to find out more…
Evening Joshua, how are you?
I’m very well thank you Daniel, super busy at the moment, but all things considered, I can’t complain. Looking forward to things opening up again in the near future.
For those who may not know could you give us the background to YASHA?
Of course. I guess we can begin at the start. It really began 2 and a half years ago from the exposure, both personally and media based, to the worsening effects of knife crime within modern day society.
Before I started YASHA, I was just on the verge of attaining investment for my tailoring label, Joshua Ethan. I was actually looking into bullet proof bespoke suits, while building my business plan for the investment, however it was essentially going to be used more as a marketing stunt than anything, with competitors in the market having price tags of $20,000.
However, on the train to said meetings, where I was about to close the deal for the tailoring investment, I was reading the Metro and Evening Standard, and really started to notice how many articles there were about knife crime and the detrimental effects it was having in the community. It was then something clicked and I started to research into what protective clothing was available on the market. If I’m honest all I found was stereotypical body armour, bulky, obvious and looking back now, outdated. I thought if I could make an option that not only serves a purpose, but looks great and is discreet, then hopefully more people will have an option to protect themselves, without standing out.
The seed was planted, and I had to make the difficult choice of turning down the investment for my long-awaited tailoring label. I also had to work out how the hell I was going to create this product. Starting with a business plan that took me around 6 months to complete, I put together the foundations for what you see today. We have four core styles of jackets, with three levels of resistance lining options, suitable for various geographical locations. We are now going through the next round of raising capital, and we have a huge global launch planned for September. The jackets are also bullet resistant, so we have had a great reception in the USA, Mexico and Canada.
Where did the name come from?
As my last tailoring label was called Joshua Ethan, my name, the brand started as Joshua, as I hadn’t thought of the name properly yet. However, it ended up growing into YASHA organically. The name Joshua, derived from the Hebrew name Yehoshu’a, from the roots yasha, meaning “to save”. We as a label are here to save lives with our product so really it was meant to be and the brand became YASHA.
What inspires you when designing your jackets?
This collection is inspired by the classics. A field jacket, car coat, parka and bomber jacket, the staples of any gentleman’s wardrobe. Really, we just wanted to make some really beautiful coats that we feel are the perfect jacket in that style, and at least one of the four jackets will appeal to everybody.
Fabric selection is also very important to us. The liner is built with some of the most technically performing fabrics available, so we’ve ensured the outer jacket also has the same dynamics. We have also had huge amounts of inspiration from military attire, as you can see from our hood on The Stealth and The Parka. We spent over 18 months perfecting the four styles and also, trial and errors with the liner to find the perfect shape and coverage. I am very happy with how the concept has come together.
Talk us through the stab and bullet proof resistant aspect – why combine it with class looking jackets?
I wanted to create a jacket that not only looks the bollocks but when the wearer is put in a life-threatening situation, could essentially save that person’s life.
What’s the product you’re most proud of to date and why?
I really love the HO1 KR1 SP1 Parka. Beautifully designed, hood is fantastic and it stops knives and bullets!
What are your plans for growing the brand?
We are launching September, with a huge charity launch planned for Los Angeles, raising money for a local charity out there, working with kids around gun crime. From the launch, we then plan to enter into wholesale distribution, and other geographical locations. Then going forward, we start to produce our new designs, launch our other lines for security and the luxury segments of the market, and grow the brand into an international player.
Big plans, wow! Has COVID affected the brand so far?
It has essentially slowed everything down massively. It has also changed the dynamics of the wholesale market, amongst many other things. However, it has also given me some breathing time to get my business where it needs to be, ready for investment and the initial concept and product is now nailed.. In hindsight it’s done me a favour.
What interests do you have outside of YASHA?
I’m still trying to figure this out myself! Ha! My business is what I live and breathe if I’m honest mate. It’s what it takes to get it to where it needs to be. My off-work time, I spend with my girlfriend, and with my son, bike riding, walking, reading and travelling when we can!
Who are your favourite designers and why?
I was lucky enough in my earlier career to work with some of the most fantastic designers in the industry, working in fashion houses like Gieves and Hawkes, Alexander McQueen and Burberry. The guys I worked with and learnt from in these establishments are my favourite, as they don’t probably realise how much the taught and inspired me, and at the time I don’t think I realised either! They have had a huge influence on my understanding and knowledge of design.
What advice can you give to anyone wanting to channel their creativity but unsure where to start?
It starts with a business plan! This will ask the necessary questions from you, that need to be answered before you do anything else! Also utilise your network, your network is essentially your net worth. Don’t be afraid to run ideas past friends, family, and more experienced people in the industry. All advice, even if criticism is essentially constructive! My mates thought I was mad when I came to them with this idea, thing was, I already knew I was mad!
What life lessons led you to forming YASHA?
I’ve had many a lesson! The biggest before had been not writing a business plan for my tailoring company, when I first decided to start on my own. It ended up with me losing everything, being in debt, letting friends down, I was sleeping on my sister’s sofa for 4 months! But I essentially pulled myself back to it and got that plan done! Then when it came to YASHA, I knew what I had to do!
Any plans for collaborations moving forward?
Yes, we have a few really nice options on the table. However, the plan is to get YASHA on the map first…
Finally, can you summarise YASHA in only 3 words…
Built To Save