Your Friends in New York reveals strategy and goals
In September, Pyer Moss founder Kerby Jean-Raymond and French luxury giant Kering announced that they had teamed up to launch talent incubator Your Friends in New York (YFINY). Now, three months later, Jean-Raymond has revealed further details about how the platform is seeking to support and elevate the next generation of designers of color.
At its core, YFINY functions as an accelerator and support system, helping brands with everything from financing to production and planning, and even psychological and emotional support. Since starting, it has concentrated on supporting brands with infrastructure, leading them through processes such as trademark protection and accounting.
“With Black people, there can only be one of us. And when there’s two of us or three of us, they pit us against each other. That’s a real thing,” Jean-Raymond told The New York Times, explaining the thinking behind the foundation of YFINY. “Now, every Black designer who comes out with a bag is compared to Telfar.”
In reaction to this situation, the incubator conceived by the designer alongside Kering also emphasizes collaboration, with participating brands sharing information and experiences with each other, as well as with Jean-Raymond’s own Pyer Moss label.
Over the course of the last year, eight designers have been working within this structure, all of whom were picked by Jean-Raymond himself. They include Edvin Thompson of Theophilio, Anifa Myuemba of Hanifa, Taofeek Abijako of Head of State, Raul Lopez of Luar, Nigella Miller of AFRA, Geron McKinley of GIM Brand, and Johnny Nelson of Johnny Nelson Jewelry.
YFINY has no financial stake in these brands, but the venture is meant to be beneficial for all involved. Jean-Raymond, for example, also stands to gain from the support system that he has created, while partner Kering gets a first look at promising new talents. E-commerce platform Ssense, which has committed to promoting and sharing data with YFINY, as well as to making an annual buy from the structure, is providing valuable support to the initiative, but has also placed itself at the front of the queue when it comes to commercializing the resulting collections.
According to The New York Times, YFINY had initially intended to host an annual festival, featuring fashion, music and wellness. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has since stalled these plans, but there are still hopes at the company that such an event could still come together.
Other plans for the future include Jean-Raymond’s desire to purchase a home base for the company, a location that could host shared sampling facilities, as well as pop-ups selling products from participating brands and YFINY merchandise.
In the longer term, Kethlyn White, senior director of YFINY, sees the concept expanding internationally, alluding to the idea of “Your Friends in…” chapters springing up in locations such as Los Angeles, London or even Hong Kong.
For now, though, YFINY’s focus is on helping its “class of 2022” to grow. “If I can get all these brands to 30K a month in direct-to-consumer revenue, and then 60K and then 100K, then they are $1 million businesses, and that’s proof of concept and self-sustaining,” explained Jean-Raymond.
“Right now we’re doing it for the love of each other, but at some part it becomes very beneficial,” he concluded. “We can get to success a lot faster together than apart.”
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