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A Conversation on SA Street Wear Now | Part 3 | The Store Owners

adidas Superstar  

adidas Originals has relaunched the classic Superstar with a global campaign that will challenge the definition of ‘superstardom’ throughout 2015. Alongside the campaign we’re having a conversation with South Africans who know the street wear scene inside out and sharing their insights and comments on the scene that the iconic sneaker is returning to.  

In Part 1 we spoke with street style photographer Trevor Stuurman, youth engagement strategist Andile Mbete and stylist Boogy Maboi. In Part 2 we spoke with South African street wear designers Mathew Kieser of SOL-SOL menswear, Cherize Ross of K-WORD, and Daniel Sher of me.plus.one. For our third and final instalment we’re catching up with the founders of local street wear stores Boaston Society, Thesis Lifestyle and astoreisgood.  

Elisha Mpofu is the owner and Creative Director of Boaston Society, a youth lifestyle boutique based on Long Street in Cape Town. The clothing store stocks numerous local brands alongside international favourites.  

Wandile Zondo co-founded the Thesis Lifestyle Store on Youth Day in 2007 to mark a new revolution for the youth of Soweto. The majority of the store’s merchandise is locally designed, including their own Thesis label. Look out for the second Thesis Lifestyle Store set to launch in March.  

Dario Leite is the co-founder and owner of astoreisgood, a contemporary lifestyle and culture store stocking the latest apparel, footwear, accessories and books on Kloof Street in Cape Town.  

What excites you about street wear?

Elisha: Street wear is always changing, not boxed by some strict industry guidelines, fashion shows and all that other stuff that limits creativity and self expression. Street wear is that art that you and your friends engage with on the street corners, at school, skating in the streets or engaging in cyphers with other hip hop heads. So what excites me about being in this industry is knowing that people can make a living doing what they do every day – living their life. Talking about street wear from an economic context, it has allowed youth to create an industry and jobs for themselves, something which is currently lacking in the country right now.  

Wandile: The fact that it’s still new in SA and there is a lot of room for local brands to grow.   Dario: I’m really looking forward to seeing more street wear from our local designers and particularly young designers. I think the diversity of our nation and particularly the youth, who disregard previous boundaries, is something to look forward to. I can see South Africa becoming a great spot for street wear inspiration, if it isn’t already!    

astore               astoreisgood  

Why did you decide to open a street wear store in South Africa? And how did you go about doing so?

 Elisha: I started in 2012 and the idea was to create an online platform for local and international street wear brands. One year into my research and trying to implement the idea I decided to go ahead and open a brick and mortar space because e-commerce was not yet ready for street fashion. The idea just grew from then and I’ve not looked back ever since.  

Wandile: South Africa has a few street wear stores and we saw an opportunity to start and grow our brand, as way of expressing ourselves. It started as hobby by buying second hand clothes. From that we evolved to start our brand. From the brand we decided to create a space where the brand could interact with the consumer and Thesis Lifestyle was born.  

Dario: We opened our store because we felt that street wear was not being accurately represented in the country. We got together with some friends who all shared a love for fashion, design, art and music and opened the store together.  

Boaston Society

Boaston Society  

What do you look for when deciding to stock a new brand?

Elisha: We look for excitement and commitment of the founders or owners. If it doesn’t excite us then there is no point in trying to pretend. However we also factor in things like the brand’s points of difference, their positioning, history and all that because all brands come with a story and we always want to tell good, original stories.  

Wandile: We look for what the brand stands for and we only stock brands that we would wear as well.  

Dario: Can I see myself wearing this? If I’m comfortable wearing it then it will feel more genuine and this rubs off on our customers.  

Thesis store

Thesis Lifestyle  

The adidas street style staple, the Superstar, is back in a big way in 2015. What else will we be seeing on the streets this year?

Elisha: The Superstar is back in a big way which is exciting. I have always been a fan of the silhouette together with the Stan Smith. From last year’s nice line up of Stan Smiths into this year’s Superstar line up things are getting exciting. I think the Tubular is going to have a big year too. Many people were excited about it from day one and I am sure adidas has great plans for it. Retro kicks are still dominating the scene so I would still like a couple more retros.  

Wandile: I see commuter cycling growing and that will have an impact on commuter gear.

Dario: adidas have some exciting product in this year’s collection. Really looking forward to what Kanye West has in mind for his new partnership with adidas and Pharrell has already showed his hand with his take on the Stan Smith.  

What trends in art and design (or vice versa) have you noticed being translated into street fashion?

Elisha: Architecture has played a major part in shaping street fashion. Clean minimal designs, high fashion meets street style. Art will still play a big part so I expect to see more fashion designers collaborating with mainstream artists.  

Wandile: I never follow trends but I am always inspired by different artists; Atang Tshikare is a good example with that, and Lazi Mathebula.  

Dario: Street wear is a co-optive phenomena and certainly art and design are seasonal victims of how street wear borrows and morphs from other creative movements. Whether it’s an appropriation of 80s skate board graphics, Disney characters or classic paintings, street wear takes it all and produces its own versions.  

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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?

Elisha: The whole Boaston Society team epitomises this definition by just sticking to what we do without necessarily seeking co-signs or Instagram influence. We promote street wear, brands, artists and designers in our store and do so with total belief in all the people we work with. There are also other people doing amazing work, just from the top of my head: Dillion Phiri from Creativity Nestlings. He is pushing creativity in Cape Town and South Africa with no specific aim of being famous. His work with young people all over the country speaks for itself because he has connected a lot of creatives. Petite Noir is one of the best artists to come out of the country. He is not trying to fit into the entertainment industry but is making good music, achieving way more than a lot of artists celebrated today. Mpumelelo Frypan Mfula – check him out on RHTC Online – is a young ambitious dude with a passion for street culture. A student of the streets, he is now becoming a teacher in the streets. More people check to out are Vincent Manzini, Jermaine Charles, Mpho Makua and the Stylagang Crew.  

Wandile: Wanda Lephoto, Kabelo Kungwane, Lazi Mathebula and Computa (he always does the store interior at Thesis).  

Dario: I’m really fortunate to know of a few! Ben Johnson (Designer), Kope Figgins (photographers), Anees Petersen (Young&Lazy), Matt Keiser (Sol-Sol), Smiso Zwane (Okmalumkoolkat) are all doing wonderful things.  

—   Read Part 1 and Part 2 and Find out about the making of the campaign.  

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