Here’s where I get my style – Joburg creatives on the people who inspire their retro look

Modern day trends are often adaptations of old school style. And street style continues to borrow from the past; and recreate the fashion narrative of the future. We talk to five creatives based in Joburg who take their style from retro influences.

Liziwe ‘Mam’Thug’ Kwanini

Mam’Thug is a junior accountant and style influencer who says her biggest style influence is her mother because of her unapologetic attitude when it came to choosing clothes.

“The greatest site was witnessing my mother transition between ABBA’S bell bottoms to Queen Latifah’s U.N.I.T.Y head wraps with ease.”

If your style was a crystal ball, what would we be able to see? You can find a trace of every women of my bloodline through my style, we have always known freedom of expression when it comes to fashion and our style has built a garden around functionality and comfort, my style is stained with timeless retro pieces of clothing.

Kgomotso Neto Tleane

Photographer Kgomotso Neto Tleane who is based in Joburg and known to some as “the taxi driver photographer“, says his late uncle inspires his style.

Who inspires your style? Growing up my uncle would always rock Brentwood or Dickies trousers with shirts and All Stars. He never forgot his spoti or kepisi. We grew up around it and now it is considered to be retro. I find myself really drawn to that because it is something that’s familiar and I try have an element of bopantsula whenever I rock my clothes.

Bambatha Jones

Joburg-based DJ and model Mongezi “Bambatha jones” Mcelu is known for his eccentric style and unique dress sense. He credits his style to his grandfather’s old-school swag.  The Soweto-born artist says his style is a borrowed interpretation of the lessons his grandfather taught him and that he always seeks to include these influences in his clothes.

“Style means something that you can reinterpret into your own life and as much as there are different brand people can reinterpret them into their own individual personalities.”

Zanele Mathebula

Zanele Mathebula describes herself as the “awkward girl in her daddy’s jeans”, the producer and researcher from Joburg is known for rocking baggy boyfriend jeans and imbatata sandals. And attributes her family for her style. The Soweto-born creative whose older sisters, twins Duduzile and Smangele Mathebula, are both creatives are also known for their stylish flare and creative genius.

How do you define your style influences? Style is ever-evolving and over the years I’ve come to enjoy so-called “men’s inspired looks” because it feels so comfortable and looks really good. I see so much of my family in the way I dress, from my beautiful mother for her simplicity, Malume Eric for his colour palettes and co-ordination, my curious eye and of course my twin sisters for their confidence.

Duduzile and Smangele Mathebula (Photo: Madelene Cronje)

Valentino Zondi

Jozi thrift king and photographer Valentino Zondi says his style is influenced by his father, who always wore a delela or dungaree and printed shirts.

“My love for fashion started way before I can remember, I was that kid who never stopped looking at clothes”


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