Excuse me for being crass, but Yahon Israel is stylish as fuck. Google him, and you’ll find pictures of him in Louboutin sneakers, a brightly colored dashiki which he’s somehow found loafers to match, or a fucking amazing leather jacket. So, when the New School alum was sitting on the subway one day and spotted someone wearing a dope outfit and reading a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird, he snapped a picture and put it on Instagram. Game recognizes game.
He probably didn’t imagine, though, that the hashtag he put on that photo, “#literaryswag,” would come to define his life. Israel’s mission—to make reading cool by showing how hot books can be—has expanded greatly. He now donates money from his student loans to the super users of the #literaryswag, which now has more than 12,000 posts. He has interviewed writers like Junot Diaz and Ta-Nehisi Coates for his Instagram, about their favorite authors and designers. And he’s been profiled in places like Man Repeller and the Huffington Post.
Where do you live and how old are you?
I live and grew up in Bed-Stuy, and I’m 26.