The Sartists‘ collaboration with adidas Originals for one of the brand’s most iconic shoes, the Superstar, was launched at AREA3 in Braamfontein in August. Rather than looking to outside sources, Wanda Lephoto, Kabelo Kungwane and Xzavier Zulu drew inspiration from things that are unmistakeably South African: 90s Kwaito artists and the aesthetic of barbershop paintings in the townships or inner-city Jozi. Similar paintings appear on the backs of their customised vintage pieces, which are showcased in a striking lookbook shot by the trio’s go-to photographer Andile Buka.
In a powerful documentary style short film titled ‘It’s Not About Us’, The Sartists share their aim to recreate and communicate authentic and untold local stories through the mediums of fashion and photography. “Pantsula is an expression of cultural roots for many South Africans – from fashion, to music and dance. We wanted to celebrate it as a strong story of our country’s style heritage. We took that pantsula aesthetic and added them to deconstructed adidas garments to pay tribute to our culture. The collaboration was a natural fit for us. It represents our approach as creatives – we’ve been adidas fans since we were kids and we love the rich heritage it has,” explains Kabelo.
With The Sartits’ personal creative work spaces, the streets of Johannesburg and their community hangouts as the backdrop, the intimate film reveals their motivations, fears and dreams. Yet, Xzavier emphasises that “This film isn’t about us. It’s about the people who will be inspired by it. People who are going to take away from it that ‘this is possible’, even for them. It tells a collective story – of the aspirations of our youth, of young creatives in South Africa finding their true voice and not surrendering their talent to conform.” Wanda echoes these sentiments, saying, “We’ve always been inspired by our environment and we saw it as a way of giving back – an opportunity to somehow pay creativity forward while celebrating our stories of heritage and culture. adidas Originals is for individuals whose contribution sets them apart, and we wanted to do something that is going to matter to the people who see it.”
Videographer: Nelis Botha