Detroit’s Social Streetwear Brand

Introducing The York Project

By Naabia Romain

When it comes to sustainable fashion, I have found that an overarching narrative dominates the market. The aesthetics, styles, and branding all seem to target younger to middle-aged women, usually with a sense of style that is less trendy/ mainstream, and more attuned to fashion than the average person.

In an effort to take responsibility for my environmental footprint, diving into what my clothes are made of and where they come from has been a long, winding journey. However, York Project has been an especially exciting twist for me, and after chatting with the founder, I was able to see the true limitlessness of the nature of sustainable apparel.

Founder of York Project, Josh York. (Photo courtesy of  Clark Bishop )

Founder of York Project, Josh York. (Photo courtesy of Clark Bishop)

A one-for-one streetwear brand out of Detroit, Michigan, York Project provides as a unique look into how sustainable apparel could fit into a mainstream context. Having started as solely a t-shirt company, York Project has now established itself as a fully-fledged socially conscious fashion brand. The brand upholds a midwestern urban aesthetic, with relaxed silhouettes, and minimalistic designs similar to what most young people are picking up in any store, but is backed by a story of humanitarianism and purposefulness.

York Project’s “ Cream on Maroon Detroit Tee ”. (Photo courtesy of  Hannah Symanzik )

York Project’s “Cream on Maroon Detroit Tee”. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Symanzik)

Today York Project employs a full staff of local youth and produces all of their products in the heart of downtown. I was able to visit their showroom, which doubles as an incredible workspace.

Speaking with founder, Josh York, I wanted to learn about their recent decision to begin producing garments in-house. The project started with a focus on graphics, but with their new space they have taken on the cut-and-sew process. The newest Handcrafted Collection, which comes in a handful of color combinations, put the focus on a sustainable supply chain. For each of these new shirts organic Texan cotton is knit in North Carolina, dyed in New Jersey, and then cut and sewn in Detroit, Michigan.

York Project’s showroom and workspace at a co-working space in Corktown Neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of  Clark Bishop )

York Project’s showroom and workspace at a co-working space in Corktown Neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Clark Bishop)


Inspired by the stories of Detroiters and a desire to give back to the community, York partnered with a local organization to uplift Detroiters who had fallen on hard times. With each sale the York Project makes, a kit of daily essentials is provided to a homeless person in the city. These include things like socks, water, toilet paper and a sturdy tote bag. This way, with every shirt or beanie I buy, someone in the community has what they need to keep pushing.

On my slightly misguided, but well-intentioned journey to single handedly save the earth through my consumer choices I found some of the other sides to sustainability as a lifestyle–the sustainability of communities and society.

One of the screens used for screen printing at York Project’s workspace in Detroit. (Photo courtesy of  Clark Bishop )

One of the screens used for screen printing at York Project’s workspace in Detroit. (Photo courtesy of Clark Bishop)

Everyone comes to examine the longevity of the world as we know it differently. By far what I found most refreshing was York’s perspective on sustainability. He acknowledged that sustainability wasn’t something the project was founded on, but many of the changes we were chatting about were simply the future. He saw this as the obvious next step in independent apparel.

Sustainable business practices as the future of business? It warms my heart.


Photography courtesy of those mentioned in the captions above.