How Y Chroma Aims To Boost The Menswear Category For Gen X

Y Chroma Achieves Success By Challenging The Menswear Category

Tony (Fox) is wearing the Dwayne Pima Cotton V-Neck ($199) in Quartz Pink and Bastion Sunglasses in Husk ($425). Photo Credit: Patricia Imbarus

It’s time for the menswear industry to update their playbooks. Changes in consumer demand have put pressure on fashion suppliers. Competition will likely become even more contentious in the year ahead, which could have a widespread impact on consumers and fashion companies. If supply is to keep pace with anticipated demand, menswear brands and retailers should consider bolstering innovative strategic partnerships. 

At present, the global economic outlook continues to be unsettled. As financial, geopolitical, and other challenges weigh heavily on consumer confidence, fashion brands in the US, Europe, and China face new challenges, requiring suppliers, brands, and retailers to support contingency planning in a unified fashion. Innovative brands challenging the old guard are changing price, sustainability, and customer experience tactics. Success for new disruptors and industry leaders will likely hinge on their ability to adapt to evolving consumer preferences while navigating uncharted territory.

Y. Chroma Collection-Neil (Fenton) is wearing the Drücken Track Top in Italian Plum ($399, Available August ‘24) and Drücken Short in Italian Plum ($199, Available August ‘24), and Bastion Sunglasses in Onyx ($425). Photo: Thitipol Samuttha.

Seeking a transformative wardrobe experience, Lisbon-based brand Y.Chroma Apparel is worth investigating. The brand reinvents midlife fashion by showcasing craftsmanship and infusing it with a premium surf and skate aesthetic. Founder and creative director Max Israel’s mission is to provide a fresh alternative by offering a transformative wardrobe system that combines skate and surf roots with vibrant colors and high-quality textiles. Y.Chroma’s approach goes beyond selling individual pieces, offering hundreds of versatile outfits that empower men to express themselves confidently. Y.Chroma aims to help men revitalize their style and embrace their individuality. 

After successfully leading his software company to success, Israel transitioned to a new venture, founding Y.Chroma, a men’s fashion brand committed to offering premium-quality, meticulously crafted apparel to Gen-X, reflecting Max’s unwavering commitment to design excellence and customer satisfaction. In this age of content-driven marketing, new ideas are your key differentiator. Whether you’re a manufacturer, designer or retailer; it’s the real-world research you do that will make your business valuable, unique and authoritative. Israel has focused on delivering outstanding customer experiences throughout his career. And, he continues to inspire with his innovative approach, making customer experience and exceptional design integral to his business philosophy.

Y.Chroma 2023

Y.Chroma Collection- Rui (Santos) is wearing the Enduro Button-fly Jeans in White Lotus ($298) and the Cognac Leather Pocket Denim Shirt in White Lotus ($348). Photo Credit: Patricia Imbarus.

In today’s fashion business, getting lost in the shuffle is easy. We’re all so busy working that we often need more time to be innovative or inventive. Sadly, this can lead to feeling overwhelmed and even outdated. But what if there was a way to change all that? That’s where Max Israel and Y Chroma come in. Y Chroma has been shown to provide positive consumer responses, including big sales at Rothmans. A recent study found that Y Chroma provides a platform where customers feel supported and empowered to make positive changes.

To determine whether an innovative brand can open up new markets, I decided to interview Y-Chroma’s founder and creative director, Max Israel, about the importance of color, why he believes the brand Is unapologetically sexy, and how Y.Chroma offers midlife men a sense of community and understanding by providing a platform where customers feel supported and empowered to make positive changes.

Max Israel. Lisbon, 2024. Photo Credit: Patricia Imbarus

Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to about the design philosophy of Y Chroma 

Max Israel: I’ll add a little color beyond what we discussed. As a brand, we focus on our customers – male Gen X’ers or younger Boomers. This means that our design philosophy has to do three things to be connected:

  1. Make Color Brilliant – And Doable: Y.Chroma is known for its extensive use of color, but look a little deeper, and you’ll see that we’ve created a system for confident color.

    The Y.Chroma Color Palette is rich in shades, with deep, natural/military tones at the base and stacking impact colors on top. Then, we designed a series of pre-built color palettes that our customers can choose from to feel 100% confident adding color to their lives.
  2. Cut and Construct For Our Midlife Bodies: Most premium and super-premium brands don’t fit the average body of the 100 million men in our cohort between the US and Europe. A ground-up design approach anchors our design philosophy. We take nothing for granted and design each piece we make from zero. This total focus on supporting and (shamelessly) flattering the bodies we have today makes everything we make tangibly more satisfying to wear.

    Waistbands are generous, meticulously constructed, and designed to move with us throughout the day. Tops are structured and lined to flatter arms, shoulders, and neck. Everything is made with a religious devotion to premium textiles and tailoring. We make everything in Europe.
  3. Base Everything In Our Cultural Roots: We are children of the 60’s and 70’s. We grew up with surf, skate, and BMX culture. Our kids wear checkerboard VANS today, but we invented that.

    This means that our pants and top cuts all pay homage to the lines we wore in our youth – thoughtfully edited to relevance today. That’s why it “just looks right” on us.

Y.Chroma 2023

Y.Chroma Collection-Francisco (Cipriano) is wearing the Becker Pant in White Lotus ($329), the Sevilla Shirt in Real Teal ($189), and Roy Sunglasses in Midnight Havannah ($425). Photo: Patricia Imbarus

JD: What is your inspiration for the 2024 collection? 

MI: 2023-2024 was our launch year, so a big part of our job was to establish the foundational underpinnings of Y.Chroma. In this sense, the inspiration for 2024 was very much an evergreen thing. Here is what inspired and continues to inspire us.

  1. Y.Chroma Is Unapologetically Sexy. St. Laurent. Moore. McQueen. These men smoldered all throughout their lives, and they inspire us daily. We think that these decades of our lives are right in the sweet spot, so everything in our launch season was designed to be noticeably hotter than typical menswear brands. Our men deserve to own a look that turns heads.
  2. Own the 60’s and 70’s materials and color palettes that are our birthright. This means super–premium fabrics anchored by cognac leather and camera-grade, black metal fittings. Very few pieces we make would look out of place in a photo taken on a motorbike in Valparaiso in 1965.

JD: In your words, what is your competitive advantage in the menswear fashion marketplace?

MI: I mentioned this when we spoke, but I don’t consider other fashion brands’ competition. The fashion industry dramatically underserves men 50+.  Here’s a clip of me explaining this in numbers. Fair warning – it’s depressing!

Instead, our primary competition is inaction – our brothers falling out of fashion and throwing in the towel on how they present themselves. At a time in their lives when they have an abundance of resources, they endure a famine of vision and inspiration.

To that end, Y.Chroma’s advantage is open-hearted authenticity. This moment is a significant crossroads fraught with all kinds of pitfalls. By speaking frankly about embracing midlife reinvention – and how fashion can be a bridge – we earn a connection far more robust than other brands. 

By transforming the seemingly mundane act of dressing into a source of joy and empowerment, we address the deep-seated needs of our customers.

Here are three concrete things about us that allow us to stand out:

Community Building: Y.Chroma offers midlife men a sense of community and understanding. Recognizing the difficulty many men face in admitting dissatisfaction with their wardrobe and the uncertainty of how to address it, we provide a platform where customers feel supported and empowered to make positive changes. Through behind-the-scenes glimpses into my own life and the brand’s ethos, customers are reassured that their desire for improvement is valid and embraced.

Systematic Approach: Y.Chroma differentiates itself by leading with a systematic approach to fashion. Instead of just offering individual clothing items, we provide comprehensive solutions. This includes pre-designed color plans, ready-made outfit sets, and personalized wardrobe consultations. By providing a structured system, Y.Chroma simplifies dressing well for its customers, making fashion more accessible and manageable.

Obsession with Quality: Quality is a paramount focus for Y.Chroma. We go above and beyond industry standards by meticulously ensuring the quality of every garment. From premium materials to European craftsmanship and sustainable practices, Y.Chroma guarantees that every aspect of our products meets the highest standards. This commitment to quality satisfies discerning customers and aligns with their values of longevity, sustainability, and social responsibility.

Y.Chroma Collection Daryl (Dismond) is wearing the Becker Pant in Caramel Café ($329), Tropical Weight Henley in Caramel Café ($158) and the Alta Vista Puffer in Cognac ($899, Available Sept ‘24). Photo: Thitipol Samuttha. 

JD: How do you intend to market your brand message?

MI: I believe that a strong brand owns that customer relationship. In that sense, we market our brand message via a highly robust direct conversation I have with our market – customer and non-customer alike.

You’ll see examples of this in videos on the website and a non-stop flow of original content on digital platforms. Whether it’s FB, Instagram, or Google properties, our advertising content is generally about why we do this, where what we do is always the subtext.

You’ll also see more and more of us in print. We have an excellent paper catalog and will soon launch a quarterly broadsheet. These are always deep mixes of our fashion message (25%) and the discussions our guys want to participate in: Physical and emotional health, lifetime learning, travel, and food.

Y.Chroma Collection Tony (Fox) is wearing the Low-fi Pant in British Green ($255),
the Lux Henley in British Green ($139) and the Sevilla Shirt
in British Green ($189). Photo: Patricia Imbarus

JD: Speak to my readers about the current collection- fabrics, colors, textures, design
 Your discerning eye quickly picks an intelligent blend of classic and surf-cut lines. We aim to match that with a rich color palette (I talked about above) and a peerless selection of textiles.

This matters. Our guy is often at a point in life where he’s parting ways with that suit or navy blazer. Purgatory on this journey is the dreaded Northface-with-jeans look. Our approach with the collection is always to ensure that the textile sends a message of success and prosperity that goes beyond the color.

A great example of this is our Varial Shirt-cut Jacket. This award-winner is core to the collection. You can see in the photos how it offers a more breezy, casual look than a blazer or suit, but that the textile and color transmit “dynamism and success”.

The textile comes from the legendary Mahlia Kent in Paris, a storied textile mill whose roots trace back to the fabrics they made for Coco Channel in the 60’s. The fact that we chose a niche couture mill in Paris to make the fabric for our successful-skater overshirts probably tells you a lot about us! 

Y.Chroma Collection Francisco (Cipriano) is wearing the Low-fi Pant in Caramel Café ($255), the Organic Cotton Workshirt in Caramel Café ($190) and the Varial Shirt-cut Jacket Yellow + Grey Edit ($499)  Photo: Patricia Imbarus

JD: What is the business strategy concerning Sustainable efforts for the brand, from manufacturing to dyes to packaging and shipping?

MI: Hang onto your hat, Joseph. This is foundational for me and has been since we sold our first garment. Most of our kids still can’t keep their rooms clean, so it’s unfair and unrealistic to think that we can hand them the planet to clean up our mess.

Here’s a link to a page that shows how serious I am about this. In the videos, I take you through this from drawing board to customer – and back to us.

Fair warning: There’s a lot of explanation and detail below, but it’s the same content as I explain in the videos on the link – with helpful graphics.

4 FACTORS are in our control, and we can do a lot with them. 

Textile Sourcing

Nearly all Y.Chroma textiles come from Europe, where I live and where the expertise for fine textiles exists. We occasionally source technical fabrics from Japan and organic cotton from Turkey. European manufacturing adheres to strict industrial standards, which prevent pollutants from contaminating air and water. This significantly contrasts textile production in heavily polluted countries like India and China. Working within the EU framework also ensures employees’ fair wages, healthcare, and safe working conditions.

Manufacturing PracticesY.Chroma is dedicated to ethical manufacturing. We partner with reputable European factories, maintaining a direct presence to ensure quality and ethical standards. We visit these factories, building long-term relationships. Our hands-on approach reduces stress for workers and results in higher-quality products. We source components like buttons and zippers close to the manufacturing point, minimizing waste and transport costs. Even our packaging is locally produced in Lisbon, FSC-certified, and recyclable.

Product Longevity
We focus on designing durable products that can last a lifetime. Unlike fast fashion brands, our products are made to endure, reducing textile waste. On average, clothes are worn only seven times before being discarded, contributing to 18.6 million tonnes of waste annually. Our garments, such as knitwear and jackets, are built to last decades. We offer a trade-in program for customers wanting to swap their well-worn Y.Chroma items for a new one, providing up to 20% credit. We also offer free repairs for damaged items, extending their life indefinitely.

Carbon Offset Initiatives
Every Y.Chroma garment comes with a Gold Standard CO2 Credit, offsetting 35 kilograms of CO2. We meticulously calculate our carbon footprint, including production and shipping emissions, and purchase carbon credits in advance to neutralize it. This year, we offset over 100 metric tonnes of CO2. We invest in active projects, such as providing high-efficiency cook stoves to communities in Zambia, reducing deforestation and indoor smoke exposure, and improving the quality of life for women and children. Our commitment to carbon neutrality is embedded in the cost of every Y.Chroma product.


Y.Chroma ensures social and environmental responsibility through European textile sourcing, ethical manufacturing, durable product design, and robust carbon offset initiatives. We prioritize quality, sustainability, and the well-being of our workforce, setting a high standard for responsible business practices.

About the Author:

Joseph DeAcetis is an experienced fashion writer and editor, having worked for Esquire, People Magazine, Robb Report, and Playboy for over three decades. He served as creative and fashion director for Forbes Media for 10 years, a Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and his most recent role was editor of -covering fashion, lifestyle, and art. Currently he is a freelance contributing editor who writes and edits for various other publications.

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