Yak: inside and out

Written by Jonathon Carlan.

Situated at the start of Lincoln’s Steep Hill, Yak’s fashion combines both the old, the new, and a perfect blend of the two. To Paul and Dave Hencke, we owe the birth of Yak.

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The Yak boutique in Lincoln. Photo: Jonathon Carlan

The two brothers started across the road from Yak in the months following the recession of the early 90s with Ego. Following Ego’s success and a spit of luck, Paul and Dave obtained the premises for Yak and thus, in 1995, Yak was born.

Although Paul and Dave were raised with their parent’s experience at the market stalls, it was their experience of selling Levis and other bits at university, sandwiched in between studying construction and electronics, which sparked the idea for opening a shop.

Paul and Dave had committed everything to Yak up unto this point, and following a crammed weekend of transferring Ego to Yak, the following weeks saw Paul and Dave sleeping in the shop, making a bed of the fur coats in the loft.

As a result of the rapid growth of technology, people’s attitudes towards buying have changed substantially. The online world has created a whole new platform for prospective customers and naturally, we discussed the difference between then and now.

Dave said: “Things have changed quite a lot … as people have more choice where to spend their money now.” The most apparent point as a result of the change in times is the harsh reality for Paul and Dave that now “there’s a lot more competition for people’s money.”

Paul and Dave are helped out mainly at the weekend and the busy periods by Aphena, someone who captures Yak’s spirit perfectly with her individual style and vibrant attitude towards fashion.

She draws on the link between the cyclical nature of Yak’s fashion and their new influx of slightly younger shoppers.

“Once they get to that age – around year seven to year ten – they all want to look exactly the same. So if one of them gets a baseball tee, they’ll all want to come and get one.”

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Inside Yak. Photo credit: Jonathon Carlan

We cannot just attest the change over the years and the inevitability of trends coming back into fashion for Yak’s successful new younger audience.

Dave said: “Since we’ve changed our price infrastructure and our stock we’ve got a lot of different people coming in.”

Aphena continues: “We get really little kids, around ten right through to some quite old people.”

Following the discussion of open and then much closer, fixated target audiences this drew the conversation towards the high street competition.

The big high street names hold such incredible influence over the market nowadays and can respond to trends at unparalleled speeds.

Aphena commented: “Even if they get it [an item] after us, seeing as we’re a smaller company it sort of looks like we’re copying them.”

“You can never really compete with players like Topshop,” Dave continued.

“They’re good at what they do and they’ve got a lot of money and they have buyers going round buying old vintage things, cutting them, copying them, making a twist on it.”

For Yak it is about adapting to the ever-changing environment and maintaining a point of difference.

There is exciting talk of the future and a possible collaboration with The University of Lincoln. Dave said: “It’s something me and my brother have been thinking about for years. I think we’ll definitely do something with that.”

Having earnt its position in the heart of Lincoln for almost 20 years, Yak really is a great place for the fashion savvy or the one’s simply looking for a timeless piece.

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