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Generic Youth

February 8, 2011

Back in 2005, Jeff Yokoyama asked his then 15 year-old daughter, Coco, what she wanted to do for the summer. Unlike most 15 year-olds, Coco said she wanted to source some materials for a clothing company. Jeff might have found that answer a bit strange, but he had a good 20 years in the clothing industry under his belt. You see, Jeff had started Maui & Sons back when he was 24 and ran it for a few years before ultimately selling it. Then he started a company called Pirate Surf in his garage, grew it and sold to Quiksilver a year later, joining them in the process. He stayed a year and then left, going on to start a third company called Modern Amusement, running that for a few years until selling it to Mossimo around 2001.

So yeah, Jeff knew how to answer Coco’s request. But Coco wanted something a little more different. She said kids her age weren’t interested in brand logos so much, and wanted something unique but also ecological if possible. Jeff and Coco became aware of huge stockpiles of fabric overstocks in nearby Los Angeles. Determined to not create more waste, they bought a bunch and created their first shirt in 2006. They named their brand Generic Youth and used Coco’s silhouette as their logo.

Coco in a Generic Youth t-shirt

Coco has gone on to college, but Jeff still runs Generic Youth in a building down in the industrial section of Costa Mesa, CA among auto repair shops and such. The label is focused on staying small, drawing their customer base from the surrounding cities and producing almost everything on-site. They are more focused on California beachwear, but I think their plaid shorts made from leftover Ralph Lauren upholstery fabric are fantastic. I just wish I could find a 34, all I saw were 32. I haven’t been a 32 since the 20th century. But made in the US for $30 (sale), can’t beat that.

They run a Burger Wednesday almost every Wednesday, selling burgers for $5 or donated beach towels, which are repurposed into zip-hoodies. I work way too far away to actually make it to a Burger Wednesday, but if you’re ever in the area…

The first beach towel hoodie

They recently opened a pop-up shop across town at the OC Mart Mix. I ran into Jeff there and had a quick chat with him. Real nice guy, very personable and approachable. The clothing all looks top-notch quality-wise. Of course, since it’s made from limited sources, sizes can be hard to come by.

The Costa Mesa headquarters

Jeff gives back through education as well, running a small design school called Impossible Education and giving his time to local community colleges as well.

Here’s a recent interview Alexandra Hampton did for her fashion class with Jeff:

Sergio helps sew the clothes on-site at their Costa Mesa HQ.

A look at their store in Japan that opened last year

Leftovers are turned into new goods. Waste less.

all images from the Generic Youth blog

A limited selection of items can be bought on their online shop.

Generic Youth
1609 Pomona Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Generic Youth-Yoki Shop Pop-up
at The OC Mart Mix
South Coast Collection
3313 Hyland Avenue, Suite C
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Generic Youth Kamakura Japan
営業時間/11:00am – 7:00pm (不定休)


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