PAQ is the YouTube streetwear show you should be watching by now. Part game show, part reality TV, each episode sees its four hosts (and best friends) Shaq, Danny, Elias and Dexter, take on an amusing challenge that tests our perceptions of streetwear and – refreshingly – makes fun of an industry that is well into taking itself too seriously. Each challenge is judged by a guest host – think Mabel, Vanessa White or Shaq’s Mum.
So can you playing actual sports Gucci joggers? And can you convince a Deliveroo, IKEA or Royal Mail worker to lend you that windbreaker? These are the fundamental streetwear questions that PAQ seeks to answer.
Interwoven with these narratives is a deconstruction of the culture at large, in which the four guys offer their insights on the latest trends and brands making waves online and IRL. Ultimately, the show is wrapped up in infectious positivity and the spirit of friendship that Shaq, Danny, Elias and Dex bring to the screen.
Tomorrow’s episode follows the boys as they open their own pop-up store in London with a little help from Lynx. Titled ‘unlabeled’ the episode describes PAQ’s attempts to deconstruct the stigma-ladened labels we use in society, especially when it comes to fashion. Instead of conforming, they push forward an all-inclusive vision of masculinity. Even England footballer Dele Alli popped in.
Read on below as they tell us about the pop-up shop, the origins of their show and which items of clothing they can’t live without. Oh, and subscribe to their channel here to see the new episode as soon as it airs.
Hi guys can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about each of you and how you came together?
Shaq: I’m Shaquille.
Danny: I’m Danny.
Dexter: And I’m Dexter. Our fourth member is Elias, he’s not around today.
Shaq: So how we came together was through a series of events. I knew Dexter for what is probably about now 8 years cause we used to street dance together in Trocadero, back in the day when it was open for street dancers. I met Elias a couple of years ago at a barbeque which was funny cause at that barbeque I wasn’t too fond of him but over the years we became good friends. And then I met Danny through Elias cause Danny used to come up from Driffield and go to a couple of events and after a while we just all started chilling together. Elias knew someone from Kyra and knew they had a production team and wanted to make a tv show, but they weren’t sure what about yet. So Elias got all of us together and thought we could brainstorm some ideas. We had a couple of brainstorming sessions and then came up with the idea of our first episode, trying to find outfits for fifty quid. We went and shot that and then decided yeah, we should stick with fashion, and then the fashion show was born. Cause we felt like there wasn’t anything fun in the world of fashion and we thought we could be the ones to kind of bring that, you know?
Why did you choose the name PAQ?
Dexter: We spent a while going through different names and when we were filming the very first episode, we were brainstorming and people started talking about like clans, gangs, mobs, collectives, families and stuff. And I came out and said, why don’t we call ourselves the pack? And someone who wasn’t a member but was helping us around the time, came up with the spelling theme for it and said oh you know what, how about instead of it being actually spelt as pack, say PAQ and from there, that’s how it started.
Danny: And now people always try and guess what it stands for and it’s open to interpretation.
Julia: The series has been such an overwhelming success around the world, why do you think it has resonated so much?
Shaq: I feel like it resonates very well because it’s one of those things that you didn’t realise you needed until it was there and you’re like, aw, I really did need this. It’s one of those things where, It blurs the line between fashion and fun. Cause a lot of people want to get into fashion but they feel like you have to have this whole image of prestige, boujee, etc and our generation especially wants to get into fashion themselves but they feel like they can’t, there’s no access point. I feel like PAQ is the access point. When we do pop ups and people come down and form friendships in the line, you know what I mean? And that’s through clothing. Recently we’ve attacked anti-bullying as well and we’ve done that through fashion so I feel like what we’re doing is we’re allowing fashion to be more of a community than anything else and that’s something that hasn’t been done in quite some time, if ever. And that is what enables everyone to come together. Even if you’re not into fashion you can talk about PAQ. ‘Aw did you see this episode this episode is dudududu’. It’s like when people talk about the show Eastenders, ‘Aw you know when Phil did this to Peggy, I can’t believe it’. It’s like, ‘I can’t believe Dexter won and Danny did that crazy thing….’. It’s all like positive stuff. It allows people to see the fun side of fashion and what you can do with your friends.
Danny: It’s also because we’re all such different people, you can always relate to one person and because of the dynamic that we have, basically being on camera all the time, we involve our viewers in our private jokes with us. You can come up to us on the street and you’ll know the jokes that we go on about and stuff like that. It’s just nice to watch people that aren’t just throwing information at you, it’s people actually having fun. We’re learning at the same time as the viewers as well. It’s like a big journey where you see us as people and can relate to us. We don’t come from a massive fashion background and we don’t take fashion so seriously. We’re just four lads having fun.
Which challenge has been the most fun to do?
Dexter: Well, I have fun with the majority of the challenges but I would say for me there’s a few favourites like when we get to do pop ups and also the Adidas episode. Also the first Foot Locker episode we did. I feel like through the challenge in that one I could explain a lot more about my personality that maybe people didn’t get to see before. I was just really in my habitat during that one.
Danny: Usually I say pop up shop episodes cause pop ups are just the best. But as an actual episode, I enjoyed doing the ‘Pink Fits’ shoot. Being on the unicorn was a good laugh. Even the hustle for ‘Racing Fits’, when we just went out to a field and got to drive a buggy and race each other around a track. How many people can say ‘I’m off to work to go and wear some sick clothes and going off road racing?’.
Shaq: I would say any of the customising ones cause I like making clothes. It’s a chance to show the audience our take on fashion and what really goes on in our heads. I know if Elias was here he would say the Converse episode cause that was the first time we did a big campaign for a brand. And what came after that was crazy, like having our advert in the Foot Locker store in New York, plastered over Times Square – that was crazy.
Julia: you’ve used your fashion to draw attention to important issues from mental health to bullying. Can fashion be a force for change?
Dex: Yes, of course. I mean anything can be a cause for change when it comes to bullying cause bullying can happen anywhere – in the fashion industry, movie industry, music industry, school, work, everywhere. So this is just another one of those categories that we have to challenge and I’m glad that we are doing it cause we all have our own stories of being bullied or know someone who’s been through it and, we feel strongly about the fact that it’s so wrong. So therefore us four as a unit, we can show the world how to build on your self confidence and to show them that you are better than a bully.
Danny: Yeah I feel like fashion is a very good platform, especially at the moment cause it’s so talked about. I feel like, with the influence that we have, it’s important for us not to just be seen as four lads into fashion – we actually do want to form a movement of positivity in general. We want to have our say. We’re more than just four lads messing about in clothes. We actually wanna make a change.
Shaq: Yeah I definitely agree with what they’ve said. I feel that fashion can be a force for change mainly because in this day and age, it’s something that everyone is into – the older generation, the younger generation, and anything in between. It’s about finding the thing that’s a common interest that allows people to come together, and once everyone’s together we can really speak about what’s happening. And I guess with us, the main thing that we have with the supporters of the show and anyone else that’s watching or in this industry, is fashion. I feel like it can definitely make a change and it holds a lot of weight. So hopefully we can tackle a lot more issues with that as well.
Julia: what do you enjoy the most about the London scene?
Shaq: I enjoy everything. I’m London born and bred. I will always love london. London til I die! Hold tight everyone in South London. That’s where I’m from. Everything about London, London culture, I love when it’s winter and we’re wearing bomber jackets and tracksuit bottoms. I love when it’s summertime and mandem got a fresh trim. The girls are wearing whatever, bright colours. All that good stuff. Maxi dresses. It’s that whole entire thing man, I love the slang. I love the way I speak. I love how unapologetic a lot of London people are. I feel like Londoners say what they mean and say how they feel at all times, really raw. I love how multicultural it is, you can always find some part of London that either reminds you of where you are originally from or it allows you to stumble across new cultures. And by doing that you get a bigger understanding when you go out into the world, you can be a lot more accepting of other people from different walks of life because, you know, London is so diverse.
Danny: I can’t really comment too much because I’ve only lived in london for two months. But I do think London is the greatest city in the world. It’s magical. To me it still feels like holiday – I’m a Yorkshire boy through and through.
Dex: Me, born and bred Londoner, specifically the West side. But I love all of london evenly. With London, it’s exactly like Shaq said, it’s the people, we say things with our chest- it’s what we represent, we represent our culture. Especially the youth, we’re very strong with our culture. It shows through everything – brands like North Face, Stone Island, it can even go into the aesthetic, the way they drop the 95s with jogger bottoms or with the baggy jeans, they keep a little tuck. It can go down to the way they walk, where they hang out. There’s a lot of variables. Of course, there’s parts I don’t like about London, the fact that knife crime still dominates a lot of youth. But at the same time, we have something special here. And if we tackle these problems, it can be such a better place. Because London’s lit. London’s the place to be. Just don’t get caught slippin, you know what I’m saying?
Julia: How much does the online community around PAQ shape the content you create?
Shaq: Everyone’s feedback is as equally important to us as hearing stuff from each other. We’re all a community. So when the supporters suggest something like, ‘oh maybe you guys should do something like this, maybe you should do something like that’, we literally take that into consideration. We’re always going through comments and trying to figure out new ideas and what people want to see. Cause when you make things that people want to see, you know, that’s the kind of thing that makes them come back. Not only that, it makes them want to invite their friends in. I would say our community shapes probably about 50% of PAQ. Without the fans and the supporters and without the people giving us advice, I don’t think PAQ would be where it is today. Shout out to everyone that’s been giving us their thoughts and opinions.
Dex: We all appreciate the positivity when it comes down to that aspect. Even sometimes when we get a negative comment, we have to make a negative into a positive sometimes. That’s the truth.
Danny: Yeah the online community’s fantastic. We read the comments cause obviously, like the lads said, we do want to know what people wanna see, what they don’t wanna see. At the end of the day, they are the ones that we’re making the show for. But the online presence is fantastic. Whether it be fan art, which we appreciate so much, we even have forums about us, like Reddit forums and stuff like that. Like we said with the pop up shop queues, people were making friends with each other. We’re hoping that even happens online. The power of online is ridiculous in this day and age. You can be chatting to someone in some mad country, 18 hours away or you could be chatting to your mates across the road.
Is there one item in your closet you can’t live without?
Danny: My loafers. Loafers or parka.
Dex: My Air Forces or… one?
J: One, you got to choose.
Shaq: Mine would be my beret. Can’t leave my house without my beret. Well I mean, today, yeah. But usually.
Dex: My long denim midnight studios jacket. That is my favourite. That’s my favourite jacket.