21 Jan A Conversation on SA Street Wear Now | Part 1
2015 sees the return of a classic, the adidas Originals Superstar. The global campaign, which you can read about here, questions what it means to be a superstar today. “Social media has completely redefined the concepts of self-expression, originality and creativity and throughout 2015, the campaign will question the need for external validation and celebrity worship. The campaign is aimed at inspiring creative courage…and makes it very clear that whether it’s 1969 or 2015, there is no short cut to being a Superstar,” says Fabrizia Degli Esposti, adidas Originals Brand Marketing and PR Specialist.
To continue what adidas have started, we’re taking a look at the current scene that the Superstar is returning to by publishing a 3-part conversation with South Africans who know street wear inside out. We’ll be chatting to street wear designers and store owners. But first, we check in with three industry people whose work involves styling, capturing or communicating street style.
Already a well-known name in the South African fashion industry, Trevor Stuurman is a photographer and style reporter who first started out shooting street style for ELLE magazine. Trevor covers all the major South African fashion weeks but keeps an eye and lens on the streets to capture trends. His findings are regularly updated on his blog, Stuurman Style Diary.
Andile Mbete is a youth engagement specialist at ANDPEOPLE in Johannesburg where he and the rest of the team aim to offer an alternative to traditional advertising by putting people at the very heart of everything they do for clients like Levi’s and adidas Originals.
Boogy Maboi is a stylist who predominantly works on music videos for some of Africa’s biggest musicians across various musical genres. You can follow her stylings on her tumblr maboiboogy.tumblr.com.
What excites you about street wear?
Trevor: It’s always moving forward and I am all about progressive living.
Andile: I know some of my peers are really critical of this but I’ve found the evolution of street wear from a DIY, almost countercultural, movement into a mainstream fashion phenomenon really interesting. Growing up, brands like FUCT and Stussy were these icons of the ‘underground’ that I always wanted to have but were largely unobtainable for a kid like me in South Africa.
Nowadays streetwear has become more accessible and a commercial behemoth with new voices and creatives taking part. This can be seen in the explosion of local kids starting their own street wear brands, messing with pre-existing ones, localising and exporting authentic street wear to the rest of the world. For me, giving the youth greater agency of how they express their individuality and creating an avenue for success through this expression is what street wear is supposed to be about.
Boogy: The limitless opportunities it has provided for artists from all disciplines to be part of the fashion industry. The artist / brand collaborations.
I’m the kind of girl who will throw a pair of sneakers on with a cocktail dress or heels with some baggy jeans or tracksuits because my style is inspired by my streets and that’s the look and feel of my streets. Raw yet sophisticated . It’s all about storytelling.
Street wear is also the only style of apparel that uses various artistic expressions in order to influence how the clothes are constructed and presented for example: graffiti, dance, poetry and music. It’s bigger than apparel; it’s a statement against many status quos.
Why did you decide to start documenting street style in South Africa? And how did you go about doing so?
Trevor: It was a natural process for me. I’ve always loved fashion and street culture. Shooting street style photography just felt like the right thing to do.
How do street style, -trends and -culture figure into the work you do?
Andile: I’ve been fortunate enough to turn my life long and ‘nerdy’ obsession with sub-cultures into a career as a Youth Engagement Strategist for a company called ANDPEOPLE. The essence of our business is finding authentic and exciting ways to bridge the gap between brands and young consumers through the curation of brand spaces, the creation of content and experiences and innovative design. Effectively youth culture is our business. It’s impossible to separate youth culture from street style – they mirror one another. So understanding trends in street style is understanding trends in youth culture.
Boogy: I am a celebrity stylist who works on videos for Africa’s biggest musicians across various musical genres. Knowledge of street style and trend forecasting is a big part of my job because sometimes we shoot an ad or video that will only be released in a month or two so the looks always have to be fashion forward. I also do a lot of research on traditional African apparel because my clientele is from Tanzania all the way to Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria and these clients insist on a look that still shows where they are from yet still on trend and fashion forward. Africa has become the inspiration for fashion over the past 3 years so tapping in and coming up with our own trends has become key.
What do you look for when out capturing style on the street?
Trevor: Confidence. It’s not always about the fashion but sometimes just about the confidence. I love people that own their looks.
What role does street wear/style play in understanding South African youth?
Andile: In South Africa and probably the around the world street wear and street “style” is one of the most effective tools of cultural communication. It’s a language shared and expressed by a group of individuals only to be understood by that group of individuals. It’s a uniform for the independent. I think there’s also a huge entrepreneurial appeal to street wear as well – turning your creativity into a business is something that resonates with many young South Africans.
Where do you look for inspiration when styling a look/shoot?
Boogy: Everywhere. I’m lucky to live in the Johannesburg CBD where you see all kinds of people from all walks of life. I like to compile fashion mood boards on a regular to keep me inspired which I post on Instagram, tumblr and Pintrest. These are based on images I find online. I also watch a lot of 80s films and music videos to get ideas of upcoming trends. Everything in fashion is a cycle waiting to make a come back.
The adidas Originals street style staple, the Superstar, is back in a big way in 2015. What else will we be seeing on the streets this year?
Trevor: The rise street style tribes – like-minded individuals with a similar taste in style that form sartorial collectives.
Andile: Trying to predict trends is always tricky but I do think that young South Africans have become a little bit nostalgic (I’m using this word loosely) – our recent history and culture have become the main source of inspiration. You can see this in the nods to cultural legends in songs like ‘Doc Shebeleza” and “Bob Mabena”, the mainstream popularisation of ispoti (aka the bucket hat). The list goes on.
Boogy: I think we’ll be seeing a lot of popular sneaker brands of the 80s and 90s making a big come back. Retro sneakers are all the rage right now so I can say Fila and Reebok maybe making more surprise appearances than we think. Branding is back in a big way so expect to see logos on everything .
What trends in art and design (or vice versa) have you noticed being translated into street fashion?
Trevor: But is street fashion not an art on its own?
Andile: For me it’s the same as above. Young South Africans are becoming exporters of culture rather than importers. I think you can expect more locally inspired design taken from our rich and sadly undervalued history.
The 2015 adidas Originals Superstar campaign aims to redefine ‘superstardom’ as creative courage in a move away from celebrity worship and external validation. What young South African creatives epitomise this definition for you?
Trevor: Yoliswa Mqoco
Andile: Off the top my head – Lady $kollie, Bogosi Sekhukhuni, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Hlasko, Riaan Botha, Sindiso Nyoni, Isaac Zavale, Atang Tshikare
Boogy: Laduma Ngoxolo, the designer of Maxhosa Knitwear, for me epitomes this definition. Not only has his product being sought after by major fashion houses such as Moschino and the like, Laduma is currently overseas furthering his studies where most people would be shmoozing and living it up. His belief in the beauty of our culture and taking fashion risks over notoriety has landed his very unique yet vividly South African brand Maxhosa in the international fashion pages. Laduma sources his material here and also makes use of women in the Eastern Cape to make his delicately crafted pieces contributing to supporting small business in his community. Social awareness in fashion is the new black.
Read part 2. Stay tuned for Part 3 coming to 10and5 soon.