Something about our past makes us appreciate an underdog, and in the unrelenting market of streetwear, it’s fair to say that’s where everybody starts.
Black Scale launched out of legendary skater Keith Hufnagel’s San Francisco streetwear boutique in 2007. Since then, Michael Yabut—aka Mega—and his partner Alfred have taken the brand from a mix of four t-shirts designed around religion, government, identity, and death, to a collection of flagship storefronts around the globe. That’s a quick come up.
Most brands in the streetwear genre aren’t much more than a flicker, but for the nine years Black Scale’s been at it, Mega has been consistently referred to as one of the most powerful men in the industry. The business has been his education and he’s largely self-taught, but through that journey he’s maintained a commitment to originality.
Throughout the Black Scale x Burton collection, fabrics were chosen for their futuristic qualities: a shape memory fabric from Schoeller® in both two and three-layer membranes and a high-density mesh knit from a Japanese mill on the crew. There’s welded construction, USA-made CNT5 zippers, and one jacket utilizes what's considered the highest grade reflective fabric on the market, typically used in military and emergency personnel applications. The mix of outerwear, hardgoods, and accessories maintains a provocatively minimalist aesthetic.
Black Scale’s purpose is to drive discussion through design. We’re doing our homework with CEO Mega himself.
Snowboarding first—how often do you get out?
A lot people in our crew snowboard, and coming from San Francisco, we had it easy with Lake Tahoe right there. Every winter the crew goes out and rides, the SF crew stays mainly up north, the LA crew hits the little mountains down south, and the NY crew hits up the icier mountains in the east. We make trips to Park City, Utah, and Whistler, too.
Can you talk a little bit about the energy behind this collaboration, from Black Scale’s point of view?
When people think of Black Scale they think it’s this Goth brand. Whatever that means. It’s pretty silly and whoever made up that term should get banned from fashion asap. So the hypebeast who truly doesn’t understand who we are, they get shocked at the idea of a collaboration between Black Scale and Burton. That is the true essence of a collaboration to us: when you take two totally different things and merge them together to make something special. Our team is so excited about this project and partnership because it’s what they rode all their lives, and it shows the crew a new excitement of collaborating, not just your everyday brand on brand collaboration.
There's a statement on your website: “Materialism is a way of understanding reality.” Can you explain that?
With the new millennial generation, they only want, want, want and are not as passionate about working for something. With the fast paced life of social media, the material things in life are the only things that this new generation seems to care about, and sadly that’s reality today.
What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced bringing your brand from four tee shirts in 2007 to the level it’s at today?
The landscape of fashion today has changed. Growing with the times, that can be challenging, especially with the new customers who aren’t loyal to any brand and are more of followers than our older customers who wanted to differentiate themselves from your normal hypebeast customer. We’ve been very fortunate to keep a great loyal customer since we started, and that is the reason we are still here today.
You’re a man that sweats the details. How have the details of your experiences shaped Black Scale?
Next year will be our 10-year anniversary for Black Scale. We had an amazing 10 years of growth and growing pains. We were young when we started, and now we are some of the older guys on the block. Learning to perfect our craft takes many years and now we want to build our collections for who we truly are. We have grown personally and that will tell the story for the next 10 years. Being self-taught, we had to learn everything to this point. Moving forward we have grown and can refine the brand to what we feel will be us in the next 10 years. The devil is in the details and that will forever be a part of our creative process to create timeless pieces.
You’re focused on materials to make sure the quality of the garment you’re putting out is high. How does that come into play when you work with a brand like Burton?
We’ve used a wide array of fabrics in the past and we made sure the quality was always higher than your norm for streetwear. With the Burton collaboration we wanted to use what Burton was great at and take advantage of technical fabrics like Schoeller® to blend both worlds together.
What Black Scale x Burton piece are you most excited about?
I’m very excited about the entire collection. Not one piece speaks out louder than the other because it’s all very cohesive and goes well with each other. You can’t just wear one piece because every piece complements each other through a performance standpoint and a lifestyle standpoint. It’s meant to wear on and off the mountain.