Yasha: From France to Bed Stuy

Yasha: From France to Bed Stuy
April 4, 2016 Daniela K.

Yasha is a global citizen with a colorful outlook on the world. He is part music video director, and part entrepreneur. Yasha is the co-founder of Pangean a video production company and clothing brand inspired by the belief that we all originate from one supercontinent. With this brand, he is creating art, fighting for environmental consciousness through sustainable fashion, and starting a movement of unity and interdependence.

Tell us about your background

My mother was born in Rome, Italy but she is an Italian jew, which is rare. My father was born in Greece and grew up in Germany. My grandmother on my mother’s side is Egyptian and her husband was American- born Expat living in Italy, form Lithuanian descent. I was born in New York City but when I was one, my mom moved to Paris where I grew up untiI I was 14 years old.

What brought you back to New York City?

The summer before high school I moved to New York City. I was acting up as a teenager and my mother decided I needed a fatherly influence in my life so I moved to New York where he lived.

What was the transition like?

I went to the International High School of Prospect Heights. When I moved to New York I couldn’t really read or write in English. The International High School had a bunch of kids from all over the world so it’s pretty Pangean.

Is there anything you miss about Paris compared to living in NYC?

I miss certain things about the European lifestyle. I am very blessed that I moved to New York. When it comes to following your dreams and ambitions, America is the best for that. Quality of life and family life Europe is better. Ambition is less part of the culture there. I also feel like you grow up faster there. There are obviously very ambitious people in France but this is what I feel like from my experiences in my world.

Tell us about what you do now.

I’m the co founder of Pangean, an eco-friendly clothing company, video production company, and lifestyle blog. I direct music videos and design eco-conscious clothing on a day to day basis.

Did living in New York City influence the growth of your video career?

I grew up surrounded by talent. Everyone I directed music videos for were in my circle of friends, or one circle removed. It was all about being in the right place at the right time. NYC is filled with artists and creative people and the connections definitely built my career.

Tell us about Pangean.

On a vague term, it’s a supercontinent that existed when every continent was connected before the continental drift. We’re all Pangean because we all come from this continent. That’s the philosophy and the lifestyle of the brand.

How does the brand behind Pangean connect to your personal story?

I grew up in inner cities. I grew up in Paris where most of my friends were North African, Italians, Portuguese, West African, etc. Then when I moved to New York everyone was also from a different place. I always interacted with different cultures and then went to an International high school.

I believe that the more cultures you are exposed to makes you a better human. It makes you grow and become multi-dimensional. In that sense, I feel very Pangean.

Tell us about the eco consciousness behind the brand.

That’s the biggest challenge we’re facing right now. Our clothing is made solely from 100% recycled and reused fabrics and is sweat-shop free. We recently went to trade show and thought we should’ve brought a secret camera to this, because of the looks on their faces when we asked if they carried recycled fabrics.

Clothing companies only use the eco stamp to drive sales. We’re learning that any fabrics that are true eco are discontinued. The clothing industry is the third largest driving cause to global warming and the number one human rights violator.

So what are you doing different through Pangean?

We want people to be proud to be wearing our clothes. This limits our options and resources but it also forces us to be more creative. For example, we can only get true eco fabrics in limited styles and colors. We’re currently trying to perfect the recycled metal elements in our clothing so it’s 100% eco-friendly. Every little detail that goes into it is a challenge. We have to work 100 times harder, and it drives the cost up for a lot of things.

Why did you recently move to LA?

I moved to LA for the clothing portion of Pangean. California is the main place to be to manufacture sustainable clothes in the US, it’s way ahead of New York. To be honest, even with music, there’s less coming out of New York City, and a lot of artists that do make it out of New York end up moving to LA at least part-time.

What is it about LA that is attracting the talent?

I was recently speaking to a music journalist at Galore Mag about this. She was saying that space is more available so you can afford to book a space for a gig which drives the music scene, that was her theory anyways. She was also a New Yorker that relocated to LA.

Let’s talk New York vs LA; which do you prefer?

They’re two different worlds. New York is the best city in the US, and California is the best state. As a state, it has an incredibly beautiful and diverse landscape. You can be on the beach and then go snowboarding a drive away. You can go to San Francisco, or drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. Also when it comes to innovation and sustainability, California is where you want to be right now.

Where do you think is the better fashion scene?

I think for shopping there’s no place better than SoHo. Cali’s equivalent of SoHo, Fairfax, is pretty lame compared to SoHo.

Which boutiques in SoHo do you like?

I don’t remember the names, you have to just walk around. Fairfax is a bunch of street bands. I can tell you some brands that are killing it in California though, like Pink Dolphin. The founder is from the Bay Area but he lives in LA. They’re by far the biggest newcomer in streetwear.

Is that someone you look up to in the clothing industry?

This is someone I look up to in terms of men’s street wear. However, it’s all made in China and not eco – so I’m not following in that regard. UNIF is another brand that’s out in California. They’re an internet brand, mainly online, more female oriented, I look up to them as well, they’re not eco either though. Reformation is getting pretty big as well, they only use deadstock fabrics, which, as i said before is hard to say how eco that truly is.

Do you miss living in New York.

I miss taking the train. I don’t know, I just love the train. Your mind doesn’t have to focus on anything. You can read or write. It’s kind of meditative; you can use the time however you want. When you’re driving in LA you have to pay attention. Seeing all these people on the train and being in close contact with them is a beautiful thing. I miss friends and family of course.

I miss Washington Square Park, my favorite place in the city. Going there to write or read a book. And New York City deli sandwiches.

What’s your favorite way to have a NYC deli sandwich?

Salsalito Turkey on the grill; onions on the grill; the hero toasted with mayo and honey mustard; pepper jack cheese with lettuce tomato and jalapenos. And add chips to add crunch of course, probably jalapeno chips. But I’m currently not eating meat so I can’t have that anyway.

Tell me about what you’re wearing.

I’m wearing a Pangean General with inverted flag pattern, one of our 4 custom patters. It’s comprised of every flag of the world with inverted colors. We also make patterns with every currency of the world. And there are three continents on each sleeve. We had  to sacrifice Antarctica for symmetry, sorry Antarctica.

How do you spread the word about Pangean?

A big way that we promoted our brand starting out was through music. We didn’t have the budget for marketing, so when we got hired to make music videos for our friends we would make them wear our samples in the music videos. Then they would get millions of views and their fans would comment on the videos asking where they can get it. That was a big form of promotion. At the beginning of our career we were helping these artists blow up with music videos and then once they had a fanbase they’d help us blow up. A big source of promotion for us today are music videos that Xana and I direct.

Where do you see yourself and Pangean in ten years?

I always want to do music videos. I don’t want to have to rely on making them for money, I just want to do it for fun. I want to have flagship stores in thirty different cities. Three feature films out as a director and our next venture is the food sector — Pangean restaurants.

I have always had this desire to fix the world, ever since a young age. Pangean is the embodiment of that and solidifies and drives that desire. It gives me a mission.

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