"It feels like a whole new world..."

Amongst all the high jumps, long jumps and zip wires, last week Stratford also played host to a customising station, set up by Adidas to give London creatives their own chance to show off. Across a number of days, designers such as Nasir Mazhar, Fred Butler and Dr Noki, were given free reign over Adidas trainers and invited to use similarly sporty equipment to decorate said kicks.

We caught up with Kara Messina, founder and designer behind hot new label Y'OH, to give us some insight behind the whole shebang.

How did Y’OH come about?
I had the idea to make a series of African shirts. I have always been into classic prints and I thought the African fabric possessed the same capability to be as classic as the check, camouflage or leopard print. I knew I wanted Y’OH presented in a street context. It needed to be something people could connect with for it to have any impact at all. The rest of the brand just took shape around that concept.

What were you doing before the label launched?
I had been working in fashion for about 6 years prior to Y’OH, doing jobs in design, PR, production and pattern cutting. I never really found a role I fitted into. In the end I thought maybe I had chosen the wrong industry, but it turns out all I needed was to move from high fashion into streetwear. It feels like a whole new world.

What are your main inspirations?
I’m very much into social studies, so predominantly subcultures and their use of clothing as a language. Within that how individuals choose to express their identity. My objective is to make clothes that respond to these expressions rather than impose my ideals onto to people.

Describe the Y’OH Customer.
I never designed it with anyone in mind simply because I wanted to see where it would go off its own back.

And if you could dress anyone who would it be?
Nas circa 1994.

How did your work for Adidas come about?
Both projects I have worked on for adidas have come about through word of mouth. Streetwear and Sportswear go hand in hand so I guess the collaboration just works.

What was your first and last piece of Adidas clothing? (Ours was a pair of Adidas half stripes, circa Spice Girls world domination, 1997)
The first thing I ever bought myself from adidas was a blue & maroon rucksack when I was 12. Can you believe I still have it? The last piece was a red Chicago Bulls basketball jersey.

What does the Adidas brand represent for you?
It represents a time when sportswear made a transition into “everyday wear” as appropriated by Hip Hop.

Did you been follow the Olympics closely?
For sure! I have much appreciation for athletes, knowing how much dedication they have to put in to get to that place and then it’s down to that one moment. It’s historical and they really are modern day heroes.

What was your favourite sport at school?
High jump. Sadly I wasn’t that great at it.

What role does music play in your life?
I’d love to have a better knowledge of music, mine is so basic. I connect more to visuals than sound so I would say that I’m more appreciative of the movements that surround music ; The people it connects and how they manifest that connection through their personal identify.

What should we be listening to?
Current stuff? Danny Brown

And finally what’s next for your label?
More classics. More quality. More statement pieces.

Y'OH Streetwear Facebook.

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