Yao Akato, better known as BOSHOKYeasy, is a name you may not be familiar with at the moment but if you care about the future of streetwear it’s a name you’ll need to know. BOSHOKYeasy is not only one of the brilliant business minds behind the scenes since BOSHOK launched in 2011, but he oversees and organizes everything from shipping orders to photoshoots. Even with his busy schedule as an entrepreneur he still manages to find time to give back to the same culture that helped pave the way for BOSHOK to be born. BOSHOKYeasy, an avid lover of streetwear, draws most of his inspiration from his past experiences in Togo, Africa and Paris, France. At the age of 18 he was able to put together his first fashion show for a legitimate tailor. Fast-forward to right now and he’s turned his love, passion, and unselfish desire to represent the underrepresented diaspora into something as subtle and tangible as a T-Shirt.
You grew up in Togo, Africa and hopped around a lot to big name places like Paris, what factors in your childhood influenced the creative concept behind BOSHOK?
BOSHOKYeasy: The love of fashion.
Where do you live now?
Everyone has a story, how were you first introduced to streetwear?
I was always into fashion but my first introduction to streetwear was in the U.S. where I saw how people were dressed. There aren’t enough brands representing the African/African American community. It was like we were letting someone else tell our story through fashion.
How did you manage to come up with BOSHOK?
One night my brother BOSHOKVictor and I were chilling, having a drink in the crib and I came up with the idea of starting a brand as a joke. The next day Victor pursued it.
Currently how do most people unfamiliar with your brand get introduced to BOSHOK?
Most people get introduced through social media, word of mouth, and events we do.
What do you do at BOSHOK?
Not only am I a co-owner but I help facilitate our events and marketing. I do most of the traveling for the events, most of the shows, watch over the warehouse, and make sure orders have been sent out.
You’re very active and your latest project for BOSHOK involved traveling back to your hometown of Togo. What’s it like to do a photoshoot in Togo? Any hurdles that you needed to overcome like location scouting, transporting equipment, and the reception of local residents to your presence?
The photoshoot in Togo was very difficult and fun at the same time. The most difficult part was the transportation of equipment and crew. We had to pay for everyone’s transportation to make it to the locations. We shot at different locations and everyone lives very far from each other and the locations. The locations we shot at were Colone De La Paix , Place De L'Independance, La Plage, and La Maison Des Esclaves (slave house). A special thanks to @philippexpressions and @ze_luis.photography that came through and made it happen. Shoutout to Florence, Jack Anderson, and everyone else there.
During your travels in Togo what differences stood out in the streetwear scene there versus here in The States?
Since becoming aware of streetwear's international appeal during my travels I noticed that there wasn’t enough focus on what each specific brand stood for while being worn in Togo. People wear whatever and didn’t really understand the background of a brand.
What were some of the similarities of the Togo streetwear scene compared to here in The States?
Spotting some of the same brands. It was easy to spot someone with Tommy Hilfiger on. Thrifting is pretty popular there and Marché de Hedjranawoe is a huge second-hand market for purchasing streetwear in Togo.
What’s the biggest influence in Togo streetwear at the moment?
Streetwear needs to develop more in Togo but fashion is growing there with mostly a European influence. Afrobeat also influences the way a lot of people dress.
There are many misconceptions about Africa in general and things get even more skewed when talking from a fashion standpoint, how do you use BOSHOK to battle Africans only wear Dashikis stereotypes?
We always make sure to be fresh anytime we are wearing BOSHOK and how we represent BOSHOK. Fashion is big in Africa, but as mentioned before it needs more focus and direction. Africa its not what you see on TV or read on news. There are beautiful places that you wouldn’t believe exist there. For example, in South Togo there are a lot of beautiful beaches, huge hotels, and vast amounts of vegetation. In North Togo we have mountains and natural waterfalls just like Hawaii. Even though Togo is still a developing country you will see a lot people with exotic vehicles and huge houses. The food is unbelievably amazing and the feeling of joy you get from the amount of open welcoming arms from everyone there is hard to justify with only words.
Your brand is really focused on speaking to the diaspora. How does BOSHOK's message and direction remain exclusive while still being inclusive to others who may mistake themselves as outsiders?
One part of BOSHOK is that anyone can come from nothing and make something of themselves. At the beginning we started selling BOSHOK in the trunk of a Chevy Impala but today we have full collections and are carried in a few stores.
Many have the mindset I’m not messing with that brand because everyone has their own t-shirt company the same way everyone has a SoundCloud link to their mixtape. What sets you apart from that?
What sets us apart is our representation of culture. Everything we do is culturally inspired and we don’t put stuff on shirt just because. BOSHOK has a lot of meaning behind the brand.
What other brands right now are you currently keeping an eye on as culturally conscious or reinvigorating the streetwear scene?
I always keep eyes out for what’s hot on the streets but I do like Stussy.
With all of that said, what are your predictions for BOSHOK's future?
My prediction for BOSHOK is to be the next big thing in street fashion.
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