It’s Not Only a Bag, It’s Yaito
“It’s not just a bag, it’s Prada.” Though the Wayan Bros’ White Chicks touts many timeless lines, that one is easily a top-five favorite for me. For years, I thought the film’s iconic phrase was just a jab at the snobby elite. But now I get it.
A quintessential part of every good ‘fit, handbags take an ensemble from zero to 100 real quick.
Often, only the architects behind the bag know the story they hide, tales that span far beyond the stylish elevation a bag brings to the table.
Take Carlton Yaito, for instance. Growing up in Jamaica, Queens, he dodged mockery from his peers by shunning his distinctive familial name.
Years later, an epiphany revealed Yaito’s Japanese roots, ingraining in the design his creative destiny.
Through the story of Yaito, Carlton Yaito unravels how the very moniker he once shrugged off gave birth to Instagram’s favorite knot bag, an IYKYK PUMA collab, and a community spanning the globe.
Carlton Yaito: [Yaito] started around 2015. At the time, I was finding my creativity.
From 2015 to 2020, it was denim nonstop and working on other things. In 2020, things changed around.
My name is Carlton Yaito George. I’m actually a junior. My father had the same exact name.
I never used to like it because people would make fun of it. But, as I got older, I kind of embraced my culture more and who I was as a person. So, I started going by Carlton Yaito.
Right before the pandemic started, I was shooting a commercial in Mexico with this director. He was like, “Oh, Carlton Yaito, so nice to meet you.”
Most people don’t say it properly, so I was really surprised that he did. I was like, “Wow, you said my name really well.” He’s like, “Yeah, I’m Japanese.”
I was thinking, “What does being Japanese have to do with that?”
When I got back, I kept thinking about that guy saying it so I started looking into stuff.
Anytime I would type my name “Yaito” into Twitter, all this Japanese dialect would come up. It had all these meanings: “superiority,” “yearning,” conceptual words for clothing.
I had an “oh shit” moment that changed my entire life.
It’s been fun. I feel like a kid again. I found that element of creating again.
We’ve been taking our time, figuring out what we want to do next. Before, it was nonstop go, go, go.
But we’ve created our own family. I even call our customers family. That keeps us in this place where we don’t have to race.
I was working on this multi-paneled bandana jacket and I had a bunch of paisley left over.
Then, I saw this Japanese video about a “knot bag.” The shape was really dope. I thought, “This is cool and I got all these bandanas. What if I made this bag out of that?”
For a month, I made 30 bags by hand. The first set that ever came out, I made myself.
We took some photos of my partner Tulie with the bag, put them out, and it went everywhere.
When we put the bags on the site, they sold out in like three hours. We were so excited. Like, it blew our mind.
We kept repeating or introducing new colors and every drop kept getting crazier and crazier.
It was super organic. People made it happen through word of mouth.
If people like something, they’re going to tell their homegirl, best friend, husband, boyfriend, and girlfriend. That’s all you really need.
Times have changed a lot as well. Being a celebrity isn’t what it once was.
Some of the biggest influencers to me are just regular everyday people. The everyday person who can put together a crazy look.
I want that everyday person to feel like this is for them. That’s also kind of why we never change our price points, no matter how much we sell.
Everybody’s talking about Birkins and Kellys and this and that. That’s not attainable for everybody.
This is something that won’t break the bank, but you still feel cool to have. That’s what we were on.
In the knot bag, we found a shape that was already good. So, we were like, “How do we make it different? How do we make something that we’re making all the time different every time?”
As soon as you scroll and see it, it has to hit you in the face. When you get that feel for that bag in hand, it might be wool, it might be leather, it might be anything. What grabs you is the way it looks and feels.
No, it will not. We had a contract for that shoe to drop, but there was an issue with production.
PUMA only made a handful of those sneakers like maybe 20 pairs. From what they told me, Jay-Z and one or two execs from PUMA got a pair. The rest got scrapped.
I didn’t think people would be feeling those, but I posted them and people really liked them.
Funny enough, there is another shoe that we’ll be releasing at some point this year with another company.
There’s also some big potential for us to go into in-house footwear.
Next, we’re going to do a larger knot bag like a crossbody for men and women.
We have a ton of concepts sitting in the vault. But again, there’s no plan.
It’s all about timing. When we feel like it’s right, we’re going to release.
While we’re on the subject of time, set your alarms, Yaito fam! The bag of the hour, aka Yaito’s iconic paisley knot bag, is slated to restock on August 5 at 12PM EST via the brand’s website.