Yellow Label Co. is Elevating the Basics

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Yellow Label Co. / Graphic by ONE37pm

"I just put together a collection of stuff that I would want to wear every day," Justin Hruska casually encapsulates his brand to me in our conversation about the genesis of Yellow Label Co. While running an online designer marketplace, Justin had noticed that there was no shortage of high-quality accent pieces on the market. But there was a dearth in basics that boasted the same quality as the luxury garments.

So he started Yellow Label Co in 2019 as an extension of the marketplace; the brand has now ballooned into a collection of “perfects.” I caught up with Justin about the genesis of his brand, its evolution to today and what he’s excited about for the future.

The Genesis

As Justin was running his marketplace, he came to a realization: “When it came to the actual staple sweats, I wasn't finding something that wasn't plastered with logos and prints. For someone who is a little bit more understated, I wanted to create something that was the same type of quality." This fascination with the quality that pervades luxury brands coupled with a more minimal personal style led Justin to concoct the initial garments for Yellow Label. "When you're shopping at some of these luxury houses or high end streetwear brands, the fabrics are unbelievable. That's where I wanted to do some sort of marriage between the high quality fabrics, but then also a tastefully minimal approach to it.”

The idea, thus, was to create a roster of “perfect” iterations of the garments you pull from your closest every day. "What is my idea of a collection of perfects? The perfect hoodie, the perfect crewneck, the perfect sweatpants, the perfect tee shirt,” Justin posed, eventually coming up with a small batch drop in December of 2019.

What he envisioned as stock for a six month period sold out in 30 days. 

In the brand’s nascent days, they would piece dye the garments. Meaning, the fabric was dyed beforehand and then cut and sewn into specific pieces for each collection. But this limited freedom from a color perspective, so Justin eventually pivoted to batch dyeing the garments. So now Yellow Label has a massive stock of PFD (prepared for dye) blanks of each of their signature cuts, and then they can batch dye a run of shirts, crewnecks or sweats in a new and exciting color, varying the practice each drop. 

“Some customers would fall in love with a hoodie and then buy all the colors,” he tells me. This led to the batch dyeing process, which opens up much more opportunity for variations in color on a regular basis. 

“We've got 12 of our signature colors for the season. At the beginning of the season, we set x amount of quantity of each one, then when it's sold out at the end of the season, it won't be rereleased until the next year,” he explains the drop process to me. This creates an exclusivity/rarity component to the drops, and also encourages fans of the brand to set their sights on specific colors, knowing access to that iteration may soon be gone.

The most recent colors just went live yesterday.

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Yellow Label Co.

The Community

Something that has made Yellow Label unique is Justin’s commitment to building the brand “the right way.” Rather than throwing marketing dollars at various ad campaigns, Justin and his team have organically grown the community in a myriad of ways. "We're at 25,000 followers on Instagram now, and I've DMed personally with every single one of them,” Justin tells me, adding: “That's how we want to build this.”

This isn't a manufactured boast; it's the truth. When I meet up with him at the brand’s HQ, he mentions one of my teammates by name, simply because of the fact that they’d DMed previously. "We've been lucky to have the opportunity to do it the right way."

"The process is iterations," Justin elaborates to me, explaining how the brand has evolved. "I think it's just about getting started and putting it out there,” he adds when I ask for some advice on getting started as a creative. By starting small and not remaining precious or too tied to any of the initial practices, Justin and Yellow Label have remained nimble and able to evolve to what best suits their community. 

The Quality

All of the Yellow Label Co. pieces come in both a regular and cropped fit. They all use a similar shape, featuring a boxier fit and drop shoulders. “It's slightly oversized, but still contained," he explains. The cohesion in fit between the pieces means that they mesh together wonderfully. And as the brand intends to add more accent pieces and outerwear, those pieces will fit over the basics perfectly.

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Yellow Label Co.

“It almost feels like a weighted blanket around you,” Justin smiles to me, referring to the quality. “You don't get the full experience until you touch and feel it,” he adds, an experience I absolutely had too when I first tried on when of the pieces. The colors are beautiful in pictures, but “you'll see a lot more highs and lows in the color in person,” he explains.

The Future

Justin is excited about the prospect of integrating some “going out” pieces into the future of the brand. While he initially envisioned Yellow Label as a brand producing garments that complement your going out wardrobe, pieces like corduroy coats, puffer jackets and other outwear are on the horizon. 

When I ask him what he wants to do next, he tells me he’s excited to dive into “those different categories that I would never have originally saw myself stepping in. I think that we could add the same type of aesthetic to a lot of the pieces that you want to wear out.” I tried on a beta of the corduroy jacket he’s workshopping and, in short, it’s epic.

They also plan to launch a showroom in the next month or so, acting as a hub for people to come by and check out the pieces in person. You can’t quite experience the quality via a screen, so the showroom will provide a much needed opportunity for people to experience the garments tangibly. 

“You're gonna be wearing the sweatshirt for the next ten years,” Justin grins to me as he summarizes his gratitude and the pride he takes in the brand. With basics under their belt, the sky is the limit for the future of Yellow Label Co. 

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