For 35 years, the Newport Beach resident Jeff Yokoyama created and was the designer for a series of iconic clothing brands, including Maui & Sons and Pirate Surf. Now the 61-year-old entrepreneur and owner of Yokishop in Newport Beach takes leftover fabrics and clothes (UCLA uniforms and even old beach towels) and transforms them into a line of handmade apparel called Yoki’s Garden. His business model is to “design, make, and sell different,” and he hopes others will make similar changes in the industry.
How did Yoki’s Garden get started?
About 10 years ago my daughter was playing volleyball at the University of Oregon. I watched the games and watched the abundance of gear they got, and I wondered where all of it went. The equipment managers said they sell it to garage sales … but they also throw away tons.
Was that the inspiration to start using recycled materials?
I thought, “How could I do this and make a difference?” Landfills don’t just affect me, or you, they affect everyone.
Any upcoming projects you can let us in on?
Hypebeast (Hong Kong-based online retailer), Levi’s, and myself are doing this collaboration on the first repurposed 501. Levi’s sent me a pant, which was in splatter paint, and said we can’t do anything with it. So they gave it to me. I took off the fly area where I recaptured all their tack buttons. I recaptured the pocket area, the waistband, the belt loops, and the back pocket, and then I installed them all on a new pair of pants, which we made here.