UNITE: Easy Otabor
The Infinite Archives founder talks about collaboration and Chicago.
Photos: Jalan and Jibril Durimel
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From a young age, Isimeme “Easy” Otabor understood the emotions attached to collaboration and nostalgia, and in 2015, paired the two to create his brand, Infinite Archives. Often shortened to IA, Infinite Archives bridges the worlds of art, sports and fashion — all central to Easy’s upbringing and interests.
“I started my brand to bridge that gap between the past and the present,” says Easy. “A lot of kids don’t look back, especially now with social media and how much technology is available. I think it’s very important to know your history.” A quick glance at IA’s Instagram, and you’ll see a lot of love for MJ. It’s not a coincidence that Easy got his nickname while playing basketball, where his mom cheered for him by calling out, “Isi!”
Easy Otabor in the Air Jordan XI Retro “Bred”
Easy found his professional path through basketball culture, at an athletic retailer, which was two buses and a train ride away from where he grew up in Chicago. The city’s sporting history, along with the influence of his brother, inspired Easy to begin collecting sneakers and eventually become a sales associate at RSVP Gallery. At RSVP, Easy became a buyer, manager and go-to resource for his knowledge and cross-cultural vision. Today, he’s part owner of the Saint Alfred store in Chicago.
“I love collaborating,” says Easy of his approach. “The main reason for working with everyone is to show what we can do together. You can reach more people. You can change the world faster. It’s something I try to do in my everyday life. How can I help more and do more? How can I change someone else’s life?”
Easy continues to see himself as a unifying and amplifying force. “I’m usually a middleman for the people I’ve worked with and connected with,” explains Easy. “I’m a middle child, too, so I’m used to it. It’s the best feeling when I can help someone and put them in situations to succeed.”
In many ways, Easy represents and puts on for Chicago, the place that shaped him. He also shares the city’s communal attitude wherever he goes. “I think everyone should have a chance to feel accomplished and have purpose in life,” he adds. “If I can do more for someone or for a group of people, then why not? That doesn’t hurt my story. It just makes the world better. It makes me feel better. That’s the happiest thing.”
Learn more about UNITE here and look forward to more stories in the coming months.