If you’ve ever searched around the web for shirts with anime designs then chances are you’ve run into a link leading you to boomslank.com – the top distributor of uniquely designed anime tees on the world wide web.
Boomslank was an idea conceived by three Nigerian brothers who moved to the US in 1998, Respectively Justin, David and Kevin Anyanwu. This was around the time when anime was becoming popular in the West, with shows like Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, Cowboy Bebop and Yu Yu Hakusho popping up on TV screens and sweeping the ratings.
When one of the brothers brought home an episode of Gundam Wing, they all watched it together – completely mesmerized by how different and striking the Japanese animation was, the three brothers quickly got into the culture. Years later they would become seasoned anime veterans who contribute to the world of anime fans with their iconic Boomslank-brand T-shirts. We at Ambitious Variety managed to snag an interview with the eldest of the trio Justin, so let’s learn a little about the world’s most popular distributor of anime t-shirts.
[Original artwork by David Anyanwu (P-Shinobi)]
The name Boomslank comes off as strange and doesn’t imply whatsoever what their brand is about. According to Justin, it was chosen since it was a free URL. Anyone whose tried to create a website knows that free URL names are very difficult to come by. Boomslank may not hint at what their brand represents, but as Justin puts it, it’s abstract and interesting enough to grab attention.
The idea was conceived when Justin decided to browse online for anime t-shirts. He was underwhelmed when he saw that all the shirts designs were simply original anime artworks lazily stamped onto them. Since at the time his younger brother David had a solid following online as an anime artist going by the pseudonym ‘P-Shinobi‘, Justin decided that it would be a cool idea if he could create his own anime clothing brand which would feature his brother’s artworks. The move proved to be genius, and since then the brand has only ever grown and grown more exponentially, gaining more leverage and popularity as the years go by.
All three brothers put in work to realize that dream, but Justin’s never intended it to be a full time job for them. It was created as a lifestyle by the brothers, not as an occupation or business: “The idea of Boomslank is to live your life following your passion, my brother David the artist used to work at Walgreens as a cashier. He hated every minute of it. But he had a passion for anime, so I convinced him to start a brand. He hasn’t looked back ever since.” Explains Justin, the eldest brother.
[Original artwork by David Anyanwu (P-Shinobi)]
Boomslank are one of the few mediums online at the forefront of the cultural East Asian & Western intersection. They allow scores of Western anime fans to order some of the most aesthetically pleasing anime t-shirts in the world from the comfort of their own home. Justin explains to us that they’ve been part of that cultural intersection since they were exposed to anime in 1998, and ever since then have been delving deeper into Asian culture in general:
“Since we discovered anime we fell in love with Japanese culture. We all gravitated towards Asian design and philosophies.”David, the artist of the trio, is perhaps the biggest C.A.N. (Cultural artsy nerd) of all of them. Justin explained to us that David aka P-Shinobi has always gravitated toward being a C.A.N.: “I guess David really is a C.A.N. You can see the influence in his passion in the way he handles himself these days. Even his room takes on a different aesthetic from the rest of the house.”
[The artist behind Boomslank’s t-shirt designs]
Justin is a seasoned software engineer who has worked for many-a large corporate magnates, however as far as his successes have come as a software engineer he is and always will be an entrepreneur at heart thanks to Boomslank. Justin agreed that Boomslank will and always will be his most valuable asset because it hits home, and he still plays a part in running it to this day even though the responsibility is mostly left to David, the artist of the trio: “Only David runs the business full time. I still have a day job as a software engineer.”
Justin’s entrepreneurial passion is indomitable, and has played an undeniably crucial part into developing the Boomslank brand: “The clothing art industry is very crowded. People recognize a consistent aura. A brand that stays true to what they represent. Your brand should be a catalyst to a cultural movement. This for us has been very difficult to pull off,” explains Justin.Justin then gave us a little hint about the future of Boomslank: “We definitely have a collaboration in the works for next year. We are also looking into creating some digital assets that can bolster our portfolio.”
The Boomslank brand is a true success story: Three Nigerian migrants managed to capture the attention of a colossal online anime fandom due to their early exposure to anime as teens. They decided to create something out of their passion and love for anime and Japanese culture in general – their combined entrepreneurial skills coupled with their talent for art and sheer consistency resulted in one of the most popular t-shirt brands on the internet. Boomslank continues to break records to this day as a prime distributor of anime-designed tees due to the unique essence and demeanor it exudes. If you’d like to see the full interview be sure to check it out here, and while you’re at it take a peep at our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles for the full Ambitious Variety experience.