Simple and effortless — there is no other philosophy or school of thought that people keep returning to like they do with minimalism. Especially during times of excess and grandeur, or in defiance of restrictive norms, minimalism is revisited and embraced time and again.
When you scour through Instagram these days, there is an excess of ‘Shein girls’ or fast fashionistas, there is also an antithesis to this, a section of people who are mindful of their consumption and care about their sartorial choices. Their style is minimal, featuring classic, well-constructed pieces in muted shades and simple lines, with a focus on versatility and timelessness, rather than chasing fads and fading trends.
In fashion today, the concept of minimalism is positioned between utility and aesthetics and that is the fine line that the Kerala-based fashion brand Yu Collective is walking along. Yu Collective is barely a year old but has become a favorite among lovers of minimal fashion and capsule wardrobes. The best way to perhaps describe the concept of the brand might lay in the name itself.
While ‘less is more' is a prevalent thought, there are very few brands in India that create good quality, minimal attire that are well constructed and affordable. Yu Collective creates simple basics that are gender-neutral, affordable, and versatile, making it the perfect starting point for a minimal capsule wardrobe. The inception of the label started with Anif Ashref - a young finance graduate whose personal preference for the minimal style sparked the initial thought behind the brand. Every time he posted pictures, he would get queries regarding the basics that he wore — mostly about where to purchase well-stitched shirts and baggy trousers, that were elegant yet affordable. It was an interesting realization for Anif - the fact that the basics of a minimal wardrobe are often overpriced, and hard to find.
In setting out to create this brand, Anif roped in his friends Amal Jose, who has prior experience with marketing and advertising, and Ummu Sulaim, who is a designer. The vision was simple — to create an affordable brand featuring attire with minimal aesthetics, with a strong focus on versatility and quality. They wanted to stick to neutrals and subtle colors for the palette of each collection, and play with varying fabric finishes and textures.
The next step in this journey was finding the best sourcing and construction practices — travelling to places like Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh to find high-quality fabrics at the best prices, and finding a stitching unit close to home that could construct the pieces at the best prices, without compromising on quality. The first collection that they launched in February 2022 was essentially a trial run for the team - portraying their take on summer fashion through minimal designs, in limited numbers, and seeing how it fares.
But the power of social media truly came through for Yu. In creating content whose aesthetics and storytelling resonated with their potential audience, right from the first collection and in working with artists and creatives in their campaigns, they were able to reach their target audience. In fact Vimal Jose Thachil, a budding filmmaker, has been working closely with Yu Collective and has been responsible for bringing their promotional concepts to life.
They continue this celebration of the community through each new collection. The latest collection, Papillons by Yu, features prints that were created by Miriam Mohan George, a young textile designer, and fashion illustrator, who is a lover of minimal aesthetics in her own right.
In the current era where user generated content is the best marketing tool, Yu Collective has been able to organically create a loyal community that believes in the brand. Since the attire from Yu is a great base for veritable experimentation, a lot of their customers share their styling attempts with their purchases, furthering the core value of the brand - individuality and community. For a brand of barely a year old, this sort of brand loyalty is something that was unprecedented by the team, and is now one of their biggest motivators to ensure that the soul of the brand remains intact, even while they are attempting to grow.
So while they continue to make the most of the growing #PeopleofYu community, they are also hoping to scale the brand to the next level without losing sight of their philosophy and continuing to keep the interest of their growing community at heart.
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