Our Young South Africa series is all about highlighting projects that document local youth culture and putting a spotlight on exceptional young, creative South Africans. The annual series runs throughout June to coincide with national Youth Month. Today’s showcase is a trio of swag-dressing young guys who’ve shown the world how to see the world differently. They are Justice, Innocent and Vuyo of I See A Different You.
Give us the back-story: How did I See A Different You (ISADY) come into being?
It started with a Skype chat from Kenya when Innocent travelled there for an ad campaign for work. He sent us a picture of a guy on a motorbike at a carwash, everywhere there were happy people smiling. We saw such cool in it. It wasn’t what we expected from Kenya. Because every time you saw pictures of Kenya it was poverty or tall people. Sow we decided to show the world how our Africa is: Beautiful.
Please tell us about the people and role models who have inspired you to ‘see the world differently’…
It’s a lot of people: be it painters, family, musicians, drunks… the list can go on. Beauty is all around us, you just need to look.
You describe yourselves as “portraying South Africa as [you] see it”. How do you apply this philosophy to the other places that you visit?
Same with Soweto: if you see pictures of an African country you will see poverty. But once you visit that place you will realise the beauty of that country and see that there is more to that country than the photographs that are all over the media.
Your style of dress has strong vintage reference and many of your photos have a softness about them that also hints at a kind of nostalgia. Is this something you’re consciously exploring, or is it more of a subliminal element.
It’s not vintage. It’s what we grew up seeing as kids. The people around us where very fashionable and that played a big part in how we look at fashion and the choices we make when we put together our outfits. Their styles then and our styles now are not the same. We also have our own distinct personal styles, which reflect our individual personalities. For e.g Innocent and Justice’s style is more preppy and Vuyo’s is edgy.
I watched your Ted X Soweto talk. In it you each speak a lot about your childhood. Can you please tell us a little more about that time, and how it lead to where you are all now…
We met at a local church in Pimville when Vuyo was 9. Our parents were and still are friends. We are practically family, blood wouldn’t make us any closer.
How would you say ISADY relates to other current creative endeavours, both locally and internationally?
There is a lot of amazing artists, we go to exhibitions every week and always get blown away by what other people are doing. The messages are different when it comes to creativity because we all have a different message that we are trying to get across.
Recently ISADY caught the eye of one of the biggest denim brands in the world: What did you take away from your part in the Diesel+EDUN Studio Africa campaign?
The campaign was great. We meet a lot of amazing people, we just listened and learnt a lot from everyone! It was great being a part of that campaign.
You’ve also recently had an exhibition in Japan. How did that come about and what was it like?
It was amazing, we got to show more people the beauty of Africa not the Africa they have been exposed to by the media.
Please tell us a little about how three young creatives from Soweto ‘saw’ Tokyo…
Tokyo felt like a home we had never been to, people were so welcoming. The beauty of the place, the fashion style, the people the food and mostly it was amazing to see how they embraced their culture.
Fast-forward ten years: where are you, and what are you each doing?
We are creating.
This post forms part of the Young South Africa series. Read more posts here.