Some would say that Philip Villa’s 2010 launch of his sportswear company disrupted the world of Muay Thai and led to the fighting industry to modernize and evolve.
Villa put a fashionable, streetwear spin on Muay Thai gear and fightwear, updating it with a more contemporary look in an industry full of bland, generic, cookie-cutter fightwear options. Yokkao is also one of the earliest adopters of social media marketing in the fightwear industry.
When asked about his inspiration for a brand that fuses two unlikely genres: fashion and streetwear, Villa says, “I have observed how many streetwear brands started from different communities. Streetwear refers to a clothing style that takes inspiration from existing subcultures, and I believe that the Fight community has one of its own.”
For Villa, Yokkao is much more than simply a clothing company. The Yokkao brand also encompasses seminars, global events, the Yokkao Training Center Bangkok, and Yokkao even offers events for kids. YOKKAO’s 360-degree operations are unprecedented in the history of Muay Thai.
Between revolutionizing streetwear fashion, making streetwear accessible to the general public, and creating an entire Yokkao lifestyle, the brand has risen to be the most prolific brand name in the Muay Thai landscape.
As for his inspiration, fighting is personal to Villa, who is a former fighter himself. He says he fell in love with combat sports as a child growing up in Italy. Like most kids, Villa tried karate, but it wasn’t enough for him; he says he felt like something was missing. He found the missing piece when he got involved with Muay Thai.
Like all Muay Thai fighters, Villa started feeling an urge to train in the sport’s motherland. In 2007, Villa arrived in Thailand. He soon became a regular at Sityodtong gym in Pattaya, which was his first stop upon landing in Thailand. Villa spent the next several years training at the gym two times a day, every day.
While in Thailand, Villa’s love for the sport only grew. He began to feel as if something was missing from the industry and that even though Muay Thai was wildly popular in Thailand and growing all over the world, it wasn’t receiving the kind of exposure Villa thought it deserved.
Villa took to YouTube to expose the world to the sport he loves so much. In 2010, he debuted his first Yokkao collection of Muay Thai shorts. The company quickly skyrocketed to popularity, and after two years, Yokkao became a household name in the world of Muay Thai.
A decade later and still growing, Villa credits Yokkao’s success to the brand’s 360 operations. Villa said, “We have created something unprecedented by vertically integrating everything related to Muay Thai into one brand, from producing gear for fighters, promoting Yokkao events and seminars, and building our own gyms.”
As for the future of the brand, Villa says he’s not done growing or innovating, as he plans to take the brand into new frontiers, thanks to a series of upcoming new projects. Armed with a passion for Muay Thai and a strong community, Villa is not slowing down anytime soon.