South African street style photographers, fashion crews and personalities have put us on global trend agendas and influenced overseas runways. Since the late 1990s and early 2000s the international rise of street style has altered the fashion industry on a colossal scale; in the way individuals amalgamate their wardrobes, how trendsetters scout the next best thing, what people spend their style budgets on and who they’re most inspired by.
Many turned away from treating haute couture as their only inspiration and viewed their experience of contemporary life and rich cultural history as important fashion influences. The streets became unintentional catwalks, style was reclaimed by the people and to some degree, a level of creative autonomy achieved. Consequently, prevailing street style includes traces of vintage, greaser, beatnik, punk, hip-hop, sports and grunge sub-culture elements. Here’s our list of 11 local trendsetters to keep on your radar.
DJ Doowap’s style philosophy is that “every road is a catwalk” and says her colourful hairstyles (aka her “crown”) is the staple element that brings her outfits together. She cites 1995 as the year most influential for her choice of crop tops and high-waisted garments along with the dress sense of music icons like Boom Shaka, Salt ‘n Pepa, TLC and Aaliyah. As a stylist and YFM HOT99 DJ she loves sneakers during the day and transforms her outfits with heels at night. Keep up with her look on Instagram and Facebook.
Everyday People Stories:
Everyday People Stories was founded by photographer and creative designer Cedric Nzaka, and provides him with a platform to document general street style. Driven by the desire to examine the nature of our existence through our outward presentation, he shares images of people in ever-changing Jozi where art, music and fashion are flourishing. For more, view his Instagram account.
Based in the Mother City, this style collective aims to celebrate the black man on the street and subvert colonial ideologies where men of colour are feared and perceived as potential criminals. Rooted in indigenous African cultures, they’re about fostering ideologies where black men are empowered and free to express themselves in style. Follow them on Instagram.
Fashion buyer and style junkie Trevor Ntombela can be spotted on Durban’s streets in his signature layered, sporty chic look. Being a fan of the outdoors, he’s style exudes a comfy cool demeanour that’s versatile for both the day and night. Check out his Instagram for inspiration.
Tumi and Itumeleng Nko:
Meet twins Tumi and Itumeleng Nko’s Tumblr chronicles their grunge blipster style. They reckon that “art is the most intense mode of individualism, and fashion is the charisma of art”. The sisters post images of their daily wear and were recently used for a Levi’s campaign and styled an editorial shoot for Yahoo fashion. Check out their Instagram to see what inspires them.
Based in Cape Town, Aidan Tobias is a photographer and videographer, currently pursuing an advanced certificate in professional photography at Vega. His works spans editorials, features, nightlife and party documentary. Every so often, he takes to the streets scouting trends and shooting what locals wear during the day. Follow Aidan’s work on Instagram.
Conceptual fashion designer Tzvi Karp’s personal style is offbeat, unexpected and always experimental. As a designer he regards fashion highly – as a self-expression superseding the purchase and wearing of disposable commodities. This self-proclaimed Sikh punk’s signature turban is the essential item which, combined with his eye for sourcing pop culture inspired looks, further elevates his outfits above the ordinary. Keep up to date with what he’s wearing on Instagram.
Analogue photographer Lebogang Thlako shoots with a Canon A1 film camera and loves the process of being surprised when developing her images. She recently captured the street style at the Social Market in Pretoria. On her blog Borrowed from the Boys she proclaims that film photography is to her what the LBD is to fashion.
Bozyn Bucks are a tour de force of street culture. Consisting of producers, DJs, musicians and designers, this collective of sneaker connoisseurs and prolific creatives aim to take African culture abroad and inspire the youth to be proud of who they are and embrace their individual style. Their single, MSWENKfontein features Sibot and is an ode to s’manje-manje street style and popular anthem for all Mzansi kids. They’re frequently gigging in the city of gold and this July launched a video lookbook showcasing their new collection of motorcycle gear. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Siya Fonds Ndgonga:
Stylist Siya Fonds Ndgonga is a Braamfontein fashion enthusiast and influencer, whose tumblr showcases elevator selfies, passers by and architectural elements found in urban landscapes. Find him on Instagram.
Well known photographer and filmmaker Chris Saunders started in advertising and fashion and subsequently branched into making films and documentaries. His impressive portfolio includes a year-long residency at Fabrica, Benettin’s Creative Research Facility in Italy, where he helped produce two issues of Colours magazine and worked on various projects for United Colours of Benetton and Fabrica. To view more of his work, visit his website and follow him on Instagram.
Like this? Check out our Then & Now comparison of Nontsikelelo Veleko’s iconic street style photographs with the expressive statements South Africans make with their clothing today.