On izikhothane and pride: 1641 Apparel’s new lookbook brings fashion home to the Vaal

In a country where we sometimes look outside of our borders for artistic guidance and direction, Vaal-based label 1641 Apparel brings it back home with their new no-nonsense collection, Lies & Disguise.

“We produced garments we believe matched the standard of international brands to restore the importance and pride of local brands. We hope to see the youth wearing and supporting local brands rather than seeking social approval by wearing overpriced international brands,” says co-founder and co-creative director Matlakala Boyz.

According to Matlakala, the name 1641 is a sentimental tribute to the four founders who started the label together at age sixteen with one joint passion: communicating through fashion.

Understated yet confident and sophisticated, bold yet restrained, the Lies & Disguise lookbook features over-wear, such as hoodies, and tracksuits, in monochromatic tones. Models Tiro Mongake, Kyle Kruger, Namkhitha Gumede, Yomi Rochy, and Yoliswa Gumede pose for photographer Odirile Motubatsi in front of floral or plain backdrops with little to no props or accessories. We talk to Matlakala about the new lookbook and what it’s like operating from the Vaal.

Tell us more about the Lies & Disguise theme and the inspiration behind it.
Lies & Disguise aims to confront the misconception of wearing expensive brands to portray wealth. We referenced the izikhothane, who communicate a lavish and expensive life when in actual fact are struggling at home. We hope to see the youth wearing and supporting local brands rather than seeking social approval by wearing overpriced international brands.

You’re based in the small area of Vaal, south of Johannesburg. How does this setting effect your work?
Being from the Vaal once came with negative views. The people of Johannesburg, the hub of creativity, would take our crafts very lightly but that is rapidly changing. Due to the power of the internet, Johannesburg and the rest of the world is starting to accept and understand our work. We’re gradually breaking into the Johannesburg market but we’re not quite there yet.

How did 1641 come to be comprised of fashion labels EARTH and STREETFRESH?
At first EARTH (founded by Nikiwe Tom and Thapelo Mokoena) was our focal point. As we grew and gained traction, we noticed that we need to give more than just a one-sided view on fashion as an art, and decided to merge with a local competitor Mohau Kofa, founder of STREETFRESH.

How do you experience working together?
We work together as a collective. This creates a variety of endless creativity and masterpiece products. Our long-term vision is to have a diverse and well-rounded image that will appeal to different people within our community and the world.


Between 10 and 5