Behind the Brands (BTB) is a YPKI series highlighting young people powering brands & businesses killing it in their fields. Today’s episode spotlights Kobina Taylor and akolabone™, an urban anime-inspired streetwear brand in Accra.
On 28th December I met with Kobina Taylor, the main force behind akolabone, an urban, anime-inspired streetwear brand in Accra. Kobina (or Kobe as he’s popularly known) is the creator, designer and lead illustrator of akolabone.
Akola bone (also spelled akola boni/ akoraa bonii) is basically Akan for bad child, rebel, or misfit. I find the concept relatable and true to modern African youth realities.
akolabone’s designs give a voice to us, the youth without even having to open our mouths.
The brand features interesting, cool characters who are all based on non-malicious choices of the youth that the older generation often frown on.
I spoke to Kobe about akolabone, and the brand’s upcoming clothing collection, Formidable.
Yvery Anthony: Good morning Kobina.
Kobina Taylor: Good morning (he was scared to pronounce my name).
Yvery Anthony: I didn’t know about akolabone untill I was asked to do an article on the brand. I went through your Instagram profile. It is really one of the most original brand ideas I’ve come across online; it is fresh with a unique angle. How did this idea come about.
Kobina Taylor: Akolabone is a personal journey. I could draw since I could remember. Back then, and even now, no one’s family wanted them to be an artist. So I had to sort of push back. You know, move forward. I was called a rebel, disrespectful, an ‘akola bone’.
So far as what you are pursuing isn’t anything that hurts other people, just keep pushing and once you put in work, everything will work out.Kobina Taylor
In senior high school, I got to start this and I realized a lot of people were also going through it. They liked what I was doing and I decided to make it a clothing brand.
Yvery Anthony: I did get a couple of akola bone myself growing up, but mostly for spoiling stuff in the house. Tell us about your collection, Formidable and the concept behind some of your favorite designs.
Kobe explained the essence of the Formidable collection in a tweet storm via the brand’s official Twitter page. In it, he states,
as a designer, I understand what it means to be on the other side of expectation. That’s what Akolabone means. Going against the status quo. This brand is for people plying their own paths, people who are looking for the motivation to ply their own paths, and everyone who loves art and design. This brand is your home. We’re introducing a new Akolabone.Kobina Taylor
Kobina Taylor: The concept of Formidable is that, it’s both an animate short and a clothing line. It is all based on the main character, Akola. Akola is a version of myself, or a version of who I want to be.
He is a free soul who loves to skateboard; the ultimate “bad boy”. You’ll be seeing a lot of him during our pop-up on February 5th, 2022.
There’s also WFS standing for Watch Out for Snakes. The concept is based on toxic friends, people around you who act like they love you, but low key are hurting you.
Kobina Taylor: There are other characters like Lou, Naa and Shasha. Naa is based on an idea that African ladies should be open to being wild and challenging the status quo. So Naa does a lot of bike rides which isn’t common in Ghana.
Shasha is based on Jamaican culture, with the whole rastafari lifestyle. He’s got this beanie covering his eyes, and you’re wondering, “wait, is this guy high?”
Yvery Anthony: This is simply creative. You mentioned a pop-up, when is that happening?
Kobina Taylor: The pop-up is scheduled for February 2022. My team and I aren’t certain about the location yet but we have narrowed it down to two places. There will be food and drinks on the house. By that time, the anime to push the collection would be out so we would all watch it. And of course the hoodies, shirts and merch will be on sale.
Yvery Anthony: Sounds epic. All of this, putting it all together it mustn’t be easy. What were the hardest things you had to face?
Kobina Taylor: I did start this in 2008. Time, school and work didn’t permit me to go all the way. I took a long break for some time because to produce quality stuff like this is very expensive. It got to a time funds were not enough. You know, because most of the stuff had to be shipped and all. But the team and I have got it together and we will be moving with full speed next year.
Yvery Anthony: Fantastic! We can’t wait. What do you have to tell the akolabone youth out there?
Kobina Taylor: Akolabone youth, so far as what you are pursuing isn’t anything that hurts other people, just keep pushing and once you put in work, everything will work out. Because people never support you till you’ve made it. Just do you and work hard. You need to have mentorship, people you are looking up to and you could run to guide you. In this field, you need to know some people. I had a lot of mentors and they really got me far. Thank you
Yvery Anthony: Thank you for taking time off to speak to us Kobina.
Kobina Taylor: No, thank you for the opportunity. Have a great day.
Get up to speed with akolabone via their official website, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter page.
Check out this extended interview with Kobina Taylor on his life as a creative in Ghana.