York Athletics Mfg., a Boston-based athletic brand that caters to the underdog athlete of today, both creative and disciplined and interested in both mental and physical well being, officially makes its debut today.
The brand fills a space that its co-founder Mark McGarry feels exists in today’s athletic marketplace, consisting of fitness enthusiasts much like him, uninterested in the colorful product offerings and stories told by the big brands.
“I started getting into boxing, started training a ton. I felt I was shedding my own skin when I would go buy Nike, Under Armour; I just couldn’t relate to the brand messaging,” McGarry told Footwear News.
“As much as I loved training and boxing I just struggled to find apparel and footwear that I felt understood me, where I was coming from. The more we talked to our friends that were misfit athletes or artists, the more we heard this shedding your skin feeling.”
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The brand’s initial sneaker offering includes a low and mid version of the Henry, a performance shoe with a toned down color palette that looks just as good in the gym as it does in the street heading out for the night. The low iteration boasts the feel of a racing shoe and built for everyday running, while the mid features a stable platform ideal for gym and urban cross training workouts. For its launch, both the low and the mid will be available with a black upper, white midsole and black outsole. The mid will also come in the same color palette but with a gum outsole. The low comes with a $110 price tag and the mid retails for $120.
But you won’t find these shoes in many stores. Instead, to pick up a pair, you’d have to check out yorkathleticsmfg.com. Although a wholesale strategy may arise in the future, McGarry said the brand would employ a strict direct-to-consumer focus.
“We didn’t want to be anchored to wholesale, we wanted to have full control of our brand as we get going,” he said. “Our brand and purpose is so meaningful to us that I don’t want to rely on this sitting on a shelf next to a Nike shoe or an Adidas shoe and you’ve never heard of us so you move on. The benefits of being a direct-to-consumer brand is that you can educate in a direct line with your customer.”
Although it is staying true to its direct-to-consumer focus, York will be sold in renowned sneaker boutique Bodega.
To tell its story and the stories of its athlete ambassadors, York has launched the “Out of Step” digital journal, which is linked to its e-commerce website. The journal features insights from people including professional boxers Kevin Cobbs and Jay Kelly, trainer and health/wellness advocate Marilyn Rondon, and professional snowboarder Eddie Wall. The journal also features images shot by renowned photographer Jon Humphries.
McGarry, a 15-year footwear industry veteran with stints at Puma and Savier Skateboarding, founded York Athletics Mfg. with brothers Travis and Kyle York. McGarry’s wife, Elizabeth, is also on board as the brand’s Creative Director. York Athletics Mfg. is also a partner of the Rock On Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission increase community artistic and athletic opportunities.