Head of YouTube leaves Web for fashion

YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley is jumping tracks and hitting the fashion express. Hurley has decided to quit his CEO position at the video website to go full-time into developing his men's clothing brand, Hlaska. The label, founded in 1994 by his business partner Anthony Mazzei, features typical men's work wear: button-down shirts with collars, and tech, leather accessories.

But isn’t this an awfully large leap for the former CEO? Not according to Hurley.

“There's really no difference. If something excites you, go for it ... We make wallets, bags and shirts we'd want to see sold in stores,” the new fashion retailer told Forbes. “In that sense it's exactly like YouTube. We wanted something that wasn't available, so we built it ourselves.”

The designer believes his experience at YouTube will benefit his new line of work.

“It's cut from the same mold … You must ask yourself what makes something spread so fast. It's people's experiences,” Hurley said. “That may be something funny … or something shocking. Or merely just great customer service. Sure, word of mouth is slower than an Internet video, but they're born of the same principles.”

Hurley is still willing to admit it can be two different worlds at times.

“In the Internet world, especially in Silicon Valley, everyone is at the ready all the time, and turnaround is relatively short, if not instant,” he said. “But it takes time to develop a new briefcase, for example. From sketching to sampling, to revisions to production, that can take weeks or longer.”

The fashion brand, according to its website, mixes nature, science, architecture and engineering to make luxurious clothing and accessories for men. With its first flagship store opened in San Francisco in 2008, Hlaska now has stores in San Jose and Palo Alto, plus has plans in the works to add Los Angeles, New York and Austin to the list.

But what is up with the name Hlaska?

The designer explains the label’s roots: “It's a combination of Hawaii and Alaska,” Hurley said. “… Alaska and Hawaii are hot and cold states, small and large, and represent the last of America's expansion. It's that tension that we love.”

And it’s a tension that seems to be working for them.

Tagged in: ceo, youtube, chad, chad hurley, hlaska, hurley,


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