We had the pleasure of meeting up with our absolute favorite designer and music-centric fashion creative Zebastian, aka Z aka esq. (pronounced escape), who is the heart, mind, and soul behind YRU, which over the last few years has become a go-to fashion house for the most cutting edge rave-friendly styles North America has to offer at a price point we can actually afford. The company’s aesthetic reflects, “designs inspired by freedom and individuality” and encourages us to “reach for the galaxy” because “it’s not as far as it seems,” and to see Z’s creative universe is to believe.
YRU always resonated with me personally because of the way the brand depicts images of female ravers – whereas most female rave-fashion promo is two-dimensional, involving the obligatory cliché of furry boots, tutus, and booty shorts. The way YRU portrays female rave-ready fashion is infinitely more thoughtful than anything else we’ve seen before (see gallery below), his models are styled like goddesses and while they don’t shy away from their sexuality, there’s no objectification in any company promo material. Z believes when it comes to trends it’s all been done before, so the mission therefore is to evolve and repackage what’s been done to reach a higher expression of form. “I do my best to absorb all the great influences, I’ve always naturally been into making what I want. The more I started communicating what I thought was cool and putting that out to an audience, the more I realized what the market wanted.”
Initially YRU was started as a men’s brand, but Z quickly realized if he only made things he would want to wear his marketshare would ultimately be very small. “It was too niche and I thought ok, girls have the courage to wear more crazy shit and also feminine dudes, who are a big part of our audience too. Naturally we were well received, I like to make extravagant designs. Performers, all kinds – artists, stage performers, even street performers, they were the first to organically absorb the brand and they gave us a lot of exposure which helped a lot in the beginning.” Although YRU doesn’t taut its celeb endorsements too hard, Z’s designs have been worn by icons like Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus to name a couple, so you know he’s appealing to the absolute highest level of pop-godddess-influencers but selling at a relatively accessible price point (there are items on sale from $10 all the way up to $200+).
“We can always make fast, disposable fashion but I feel like it’s important to push and expand the horizons of our perspective,” Z continues. The brand launched at the end of 2012 and began really picking up steam within the first two years, and ultimately it reflects Z’s perspective which is a bit more broad than the average clothing designer because fashion is just one mode of creative expression he plays in. He’s also a musician, music, and media producer – “My perspective is everything has to be special, the human race must always strive to be better. For me, ‘better’ means more tailored and less wasteful. If we put more care into every detail of everything we do it’s going to naturally create more value and less trash-ion. Lucky for us rave culture was taking off [in North America] at launch time, and that’s the kind of stuff I wanted to be making anyway – suddenly everyone was wanting to go to raves and show off, stunt in new gear. It became the place to express ourselves and play the characters we want to be.”
The liberation of self-expression at music festivals was well underway in North America in 2012, but for women at least YRU refined that expression and made it timeless and beautiful in spite of the brand’s futuristic theme. Z’s own liberation of his self expression came from his years performing in a glam-rock band as a teenager, which he eventually phased out of to start working on his own productions and learn music theory. He says he discovered his message as a creator between making music and designer, and the message is, “Shine your light and feel everything. There was a lot of trial and error along the way towards discovering and now refining that message.” That trial and error came from having huge success at a young age in his band, then struggling as a musician on his own, and ultimately building a company that could both contain his boundless creativity and financially support him so he could keep making music.
“I sacrificed about three and a half years in marketing, design, and sales – I was doing everything. But I figured it out, and now that the brand’s grown its given me wings to fully get back in the music zone – Phase 1 is now complete,” he says with a sly smile. Both his own line, which is now distributed through YRU, and his musical project go by the same name – esq., and has the overall vibe of a chill beach day on another planet. “We don’t all just do one thing, I love music, I love fashion, I love the visual and sonic aesthetic. I needed a platform where I could do it all, that’s esq.” Check out the gallery below of YRU shoe designs along with esq. sunglasses, clothing, and accessory pieces + visit the shop here.