Streetwear grows up

Streetwear

From the simplicity of graphic tees and caps to intricate tailoring and detail, Streetwear has come a long way in the South African menswear market. With the last day of South African Menswear Week dedicated to the streets, MR KABELO KUNGWANE takes a look at the evolution. 

Streetwear has grown tremendously in South Africa over the past three or four years. The landscape looks a lot different now than it did then, and STRCRD has played a huge role in that. The annual Johannesburg-based festival has succeeded in bringing streetwear and culture to the relevant audience, while giving established and upcoming streetwear brands a platform to showcase their work. The trade show element of the festival continues to bridge a similar commercial gap filled by global trade shows such as Bread & Butter, Liberty Fairs and Agenda in their own markets.

While the normative expression of street wear has been graphic t-shirts and caps, we now see cut and sew pieces in contemporary collections. Relaxed fit chinos, buttoned down shirts, work jackets and coach jackets have become a successful feature. I was so excited and happy to see Dope by Dope Store showcasing their AW16 collection at South African Fashion Week (SAFW). When we were coming up, Dope store was one of the coolest shops to chill at, flipping through the rarest magazines and picking up brands such as 2Bop and 5panels, which were so difficult to find in Johannesburg. The collection was inspired by the youth of Braamfontein, and their models were not picked from Z-cards, but were creatives and ordinary folk from the streets.

While the normative expression of street wear has been graphic t-shirts and caps, we now see cut and sew pieces in contemporary collections (and) relaxed fit chinos, buttoned down shirts, work jackets and coach jackets have become successful feature.

I write this in the midst of South African Menswear Week (SAMW) in Cape Town (ending tomorrow, February 6) and I am excited to see the Corner Store boys from Woodstock, Cape Town – Two Bop, Sol-Sol and Young & Lazy – as they debut on the runway. Sol-Sol is a menswear brand that makes good quality basics with a keen focus on fit, design and fabric. The brand is mainly built around clean silhouettes and muted colour palates, simple but effective clothes. Expect well made work jackets, solid colour parka jackets, straight leg chinos and button down shirts.

Young & Lazy is a streetwear brand that does not have boundaries, they make what they believe in and are heavily influenced by skate culture, and other things that resonated with them when they were growing up. They have perfected the art of making skating staples such as hoodies, tees, caps and crewnecks. The brand has used the cut & sew technique, but on very limited pieces: tailored track pants and cropped sports jackets. Anees is one of the talented designers in the country taking street wear to the next level. Judging from the sneak peaks of the collection, what we will see on the runway tomorrow will be nothing short of inspiring.

Anees is inspired by his heritage, how he grew up and how he first got into style and fashion, the heritage of outfitters and general dealers. That is why there is a lot of plaid and pin stripes in his collection, as well as embroidered hand stitched detail art on t-shirts. The aforementioned 2bop is one of the oldest streetwear brands in SA, and in its 12-year existence has drawn inspiration from various corners of popular culture. This year they draw inspiration from video games that were popular in the country at corner shops and arcades in the 1980s and early 1990s, when gameplay was key and graphics, if they were good, were an added bonus. Long may streetwear evolve and grow.

Feature Image / SDR Photo

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