Best-dressed techies? Retail startup designs khakis and t-shirts for IT

ya joe odyssey

Designed for the tech crowd

Jeans, cargo pants, hoodies, and vendor t-shirts are the wardrobe staples of the stereotypical tech guy. A new retail startup, Ya Joe, believes there are plenty of IT pros who'd like to move beyond those somewhat sloppy basics but need a little help. Its new line, unveiled today, combines the functionality and comfort of the standbys with a modern, more professional aesthetic.

Pictured: Odyssey Solid Knit Button Up ($88)

ya joe argon shirt

No trips to the mall

Joe Boldan, the founder of Ya Joe, says he saw a need for a simple, streamlined and stress-free shopping process for today's male tech pros. Boldan teamed with Aaron Hicks, chief creative officer, to make a clothing line that’s only sold online, directly to consumers -- and specifically to men in the tech, science and engineering fields.

“These are our guys. We care about them. We think that the fashion industry has overlooked tech guys. They haven't taken the time to really understand our guys,” Boldan says.

Pictured: Argon Chambray Button Up ($68)

ya joe vela tshirt

Fashion is a feeling

Tech pros tend to excel in analytical matters, whereas fashion is about emotion, Boldan says. “You feel fashion. It's not typically analyzed,” he says. “What makes our guys so good at what they do is that they live more in their analytic region. They're extremely creative, they're detail oriented, they prefer to work alone… they love to scrutinize facts for as much information as possible before they make a decision.”

“So I thought -- what if we did clothes and presented to them in an analytic way?”

Pictured: Vela T-Shirt ($28)

ya joe mech pant

Keep it easy, functional

Ya Joe isn't about putting IT in suits; it's about upping the style of tech's wardrobe staples. Ya Joe prioritizes three attributes for its clothes: comfort, easy care, and functionality. “It's not look- or style-oriented, it's solution-oriented.” Boldan says. On the functional front, the retailer’s pants and vests have ID badge tethers, for example, and pockets that are big enough to carry a mobile device.

Pictured: Mech Pant ($86)

ya joe mech pant detail

Everyday pant

“Guys like cargo pockets because they can put everything in them. Smart phones are getting bigger, so they're not comfortable to put in the front pocket of your pants,” says Aaron Hicks, chief creative officer at Ya Joe, which is based in Seattle. “Our pant has a welt pocket -- which is like a cargo pocket but the bag is on the inside of the pant -- so it's more business appropriate. You still have the comfort and functionality of those cargo pants, but now you look professional.”

Pictured: Mech Pant ($86)

ya joe oblik no sweatshirt

Sweatshirts at work

“People wear hoodies and cargo pants because that’s what they feel comfortable in. What we're trying to do is upscale that, make it business casual,” Hicks says.

“In the tech industry, it's very casual. You can kind of wear whatever you want. But to get the better position, to move up, you want to be taken more seriously,” Hicks says. “Some people don't know how to do that, so Ya Joe is providing garments that will match the career you want, and the position you want.”

Pictured: Oblik No-Sweatshirt ($48)

ya joe vest

Close to the vest

Vests often fit snugly, since they’re meant to be worn under a jacket, and offer little functionality. Ya Joe takes a different approach. “We designed our vest to be the focal point. You throw it over a t-shirt, it looks great,” Hicks says. It also has an ID badge tether and in-seam side pockets for your hands. “It’s great for important meetings.”

Pictured: Sindri Woven Vest ($164)

ya joe nimiq wool button up

Dressing for date night

Men can shop the site by clothing type or by occasion. For example, there are suggested outfits for at work, after work, date night, and weekends. The entire line has a unified look that's meant to make it easy for shoppers to coordinate the tops, bottoms and accessories.

“A lot of our clothing is professional yet casual wear,” says Jordan Juliussen, chief merchandising officer at Ya Joe. It’s appropriate in an office setting and after work, she says. “Our line is very cohesive, so you can really match any top with any pant, and you still look great.”

Pictured: Nimiq Wool Button Up ($98)

ya jo vanguard motto jacket

Modern tech

After selling the last apparel company he co-founded (adventure travel apparel company ExOfficio), Boldan joined the psychology department at the University of Washington, where since 2004 he has been teaching a class on workplace politics. He also started providing executive coaching services. His inspiration for Ya Joe came through these efforts.

“You can’t generalize an entire group, because there are different depths within that entire group,” Boldan says. “But we had to do some generalization, and I think we came up with a pretty good median.”

Pictured: Vanguard Motto Jacket ($148)