Back in the days when Nike Cortez sneakers, Levi jeans, and a tshirt/hoodie with a great, big logo emblazoned on the front got you fist-bumps of acknowledgement, it was easy to be the cool guy who dressed with swerve. You could practically wear the same outfit, in slightly different colours, as your friends and no one would look at you weird.
What has changed over the last 10 years? Not much, actually. What we wear still gives the world an idea about what kind of person we are, even if we tend to be individuals as long as the rest of the group looks and thinks the same. There are still brands we hold dear and want to be seen wearing, be it for their aspirational, I-Don’t-Give-A-Fuck, quirky or go-getter values, their eye-catching designs, or even their I’m-still-in-touch-with-my-inner-child messaging. What you wear is easily the best form of self-expression, and don’t we South Africans love expressing ourselves…
We’ve come a long way. We are looking for something more from clothing brands, and most of what we are looking for is being made here in our land. We see more and more people wearing local brands than ever before. HeadHoncho, 2Bop, Butan, MCK, Galxboy…these are the names you see the youth wearing. Sporting a huge international brand? No, sir, please go back to your yesteryear. We are at a great time when we support the local guy, and the local guy is kicking ass!
The issue I have, is that many local street brands never even make it to the shelf. Any shelf! Some have 3 variations of a t-shirt and call themselves a clothing range. Some will release one range and simply vanish. Some never have stock. Point is, good ideas only become great when they are put into action in the correct way. And people need to learn how to make their ideas great.
In comes Jermaine Charles, a creative entrepreneur who has a passion for local streetwear brands and has done a lot for this industry over the past two years. After learning first-hand the hardships streetwear start-ups face, he wrote the first of a series of books, titled How To Start a StreetWear Brand in South Africa. A straightforward guide and manual, it is books such as Jermaine’s that give the small guy a platform and that push they really need. So we had a chat with him about his views on South African street wear for GroundCover, and from that chat, I have great faith in where this culture is heading.
Come on, stand up for the local guy.
- Sbu Situma