26th Oct2015

Hussein Chalayan

by admin

Sandiswa Sondzaba puts the spotlight on up-and-coming fashion designer, Hussein Chalayan, who combines fashion, technology and art to create decomposable clothing that highlights and brings attention to prominent social issues.


Whenever the term haute couture comes up, the usual names are mentioned: Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Gucci, Dior, and Dolce & Gabbana. One lesser known visionary is Hussein Chalayan, a British/Turkish-Cypriot fashion designer. Chayalan is the current creative director of the Vionnet fashion house but he has proven that his creative genius extends beyond the Goga Ashkenazi-owned enterprise.

At the recent Paris Fashion Week, he made waves when he debuted two melt-away dresses for his 2016 Spring/Summer collection. His SS16 show at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, included two models come out in what appeared to be tailored white lab coats in waxy paper. Upon contact with water, the coats slowly dissolved; revealing gorgeous, sparkling couture gowns underneath. This was another example of the designer blending fashion with technology.


Oftentimes this use of technology is used to make serious statements about the fashion industry. One of his more famous designs is the Table Skirt which was a mahogany table that transformed into a geometric and telescopic skirt. This design came from his After Words collection for Autumn/Winter 2000. This collection intended to make a comment on the dramatic and involuntary aspects of mobility, and illustrate the sentimental aspects of forced migrations. This social commentary is really pertinent considering the current migration crisis that has gripped Europe. What Chalayan’s After Words collection communicated was that the migration crisis is a lot more than policy; migrants are people who seemingly have to adjust to a new way of being that entails existing in a state of constant precarity.

Despite the recognition he has received for his work, which include being crowned ‘British Designer of the Year’ in 1999 and 2000, Chayalan has oftentimes struggled with sponsorship and funding. In 2000, he had to go into voluntary liquidation when he found himself £250,000 in debt after his then-employer TSE refused to renew his contract. He managed to make a comeback in 2001, by presenting a collection without a catwalk presentation. He designed for high-street label Marks and Spencers to make ends meet and he gained some ground when the Swiss jeweller, Asprey, appointed him as their fashion director in 2002. He has recovered from this setback and has gone on to collaborate with Swarovski (with his collection of LED dresses), being appointed as the creative director of Puma, and screening his short-films at the Venice Biennale and at Mode Natie in Antwerp.

Why do I love Chalayan so much? He is a fashion designer who really seeks to blur the distinction made between fashion and art. He is not a “superstar-designer” but his work has, time and again, spoken for him. How many fashion designers have started off their careers burying their Central Saint Martins’ graduation collections in their back gardens so that the clothing may decompose and become an archaeology project? He is a true Renaissance man who, in addition to his design collections and short-films, has created performance-art pieces; displayed his works at contemporary art galleries and museums; created costumes for a production of Così fan tutte performed at Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles; and choreographed his own production.

He is fashion’s international man of mystery who is as transcendent as the clothing he creates. He may not be fashion’s most famous designer but, to use a Harry Potter metaphor, ‘he is the classic Ravenclaw whose intellectual use of creativity knows no bounds.’ As a Ravenclaw myself, I suppose that is why when I read about him I see my spirit animal.

13th Apr2015

No More Plain-Jean

by admin

Relebogile Nyama writes about the ripped-jeans fashion craze.


If you take a moment to look at the city’s citizens walking in the street, in the mall, at a music concert, and anywhere else really, you will see one thing…RIPPED JEANS! They are everywhere! It seems as though ripped jeans are fashion’s new “it item,” with everyone from the Average Joe to the self-proclaimed fashionista rocking them. This look comes in all shapes, sizes and colours, including: mom, boyfriend, skinny, highwaisted, and so on, and this look can be pulled off in virtually any of these styles. The nice thing about this look is that it’s not limited to one gender, and males and females can be seen rocking ripped jeans all over the world.

Although, contrary to popular belief, ripped jeans did not emerge recently. The history of ripped jeans is the most unrefined of all clothing items and styles. What is very interesting about this trend is that ripped jeans came to be as a result of people over-wearing their jeans. Before the 1970s, ripped jeans were a sign of being poor and they were associated with people of the working-class who could not afford any other clothes, besides their denim. People continued to wear their denims despite how distressed and worn out they were. Therefore, the ripping and distressing of jeans was not intentional, and back then, no money would be paid for such worn-out clothing.


It was only around the 1960/70s that the view on ripped jeans started taking a turn for the better. These jeans were now considered as an item of expression, rather than that of low economic status. During the 70s, rock bands used to wear ripped jeans as part of their attire. Celebrities such as, The Ramones, were among the first to be seen wearing ripped jeans in the 60s and 70s. Although, as much as ripped jeans were a fashion craze, they did not make an appearance on the runway until much later on; at this stage, ripped jeans instead became closely linked to the idea of rebellion. The ripped jeans trend became popular in mainstream society soon after it made an appearance on major runways. As usual, celebrities began rocking this look first, then ordinary people soon followed suite. This trend has become so big that tutorials on ripping jeans can be easily found on the internet. You no longer have to go to the shop to buy ripped jeans because now you can just rip them yourself.

So what is your take on ripped jeans? Do you say “oh yes” or “goodbye” to this fashion trend?

18th Aug2014

Dress or hide

by admin

za1Zainab Abdulla reflects on some of her experiences of university life.

Walking into my university on the first day earlier this year was absolutely tormenting. After years of binging on every college movie to hit the big screen, my perception of what my university life was going to be like was completely smashed. The problem about comedy college movies is that they sway you to believe that university is going to be the grounds for withered matriculants to blossom into the people they are truly meant to be. I guess that’s what matriculants deserve after surviving the gruelling, confidence-shattering life games of high school.

However, my experience so far was quite different to the college seen in the movies. I feel as though I have been thrown deep into shark-infested waters. As a result, university has ended up being a lot more cutthroat for me than high school.

As a first year Accounting Science student at Wits, I really did not know what vibe or experience at varsity really was. Of course, watching all my favourite college movies like Sydney White and Pitch Perfect I had a naïve expectation of being able to just be myself and finding the people that I was always meant to be friends with. I guess that is partly true, but nobody told me just how serious dressing is at university.

At Wits the Commerce, Law and Management faculties are situated on the west side of the main campus. The west side has a more urban vibe than the east side that compromises of the humanities and science faculties. Life on the east side of the campus appears to be a lot more mellow and friendly. This is thus very different to the west side of the university…

Every day, on West, it seems as though people who place major importance in dressing up surround me. Most of these fancy dressers however conform to mainstream conventional ideas of style and dressing. It seems as though many of their individuality has been compressed like tuna in a can because most just end up looking the same to me. While I am guilty of being partly consumed by the need for approval of my outfit for that day, this need is subtle and links to giving and receiving a compliment, a longer than usual stare or a quick smile. Of course being one of thousands of faces does make the importance of being recognized less important.

Though I always find myself, like many others, trying to sneak away to the restroom a few times a day just to have a glimpse of myself in the mirror and make sure that I am looking fine. However, it seems as though there are others who give a lot more importance to this whole dressing up thing.

While I respect the metropolitan vibe of the environment I study in, it has become quite oppressive. Most Accounting and Law students at the university would understand the scrutiny people face walking on the path in front of the FNB Accounting building. Having walked on that path, I can say that it felt like a very awkward experience as one feels completely under scrutiny. Some of the students that hang out there stand pompously in their cliques, groomed to impress and way overdressed. Standing there with their shades on (It seems they choose to stand as sitting down would tarnish their designer pants) they glare at the different faces that walk past. It’s as if you are under a microscope being analysed in detail. Personally, I think the aura there can thus be described as quite oppressive. Surely, this isn’t a healthy environment of education.

There’s thus also quite a bit of pressure in relation to trying to be myself without the fear of not fitting in. And with the thousands of people on campus, one of the few ways people are able to create an impression is through their dressing. Furthermore, I think people on the west campus tend to make friends with people that kind of have the same dressing sense or vibe as them (this is is just something I noted through personal observations). Of course this is not always the case.

Nevertheless, this discussion reminds me of timeless legend and rebel James Dean. It has been said that he lived by the following words:” Live fast, die young, and have a good-looking corpse”. He died in a car accident at the age of 24. I was very fascinated by James Dean and his bad boy phenotype in the past. There was something compelling about his views

on life and he’s genuine hipster attitude. He was brave enough to not want to live a mediocre lifestyle by conforming to the society around him. I think that’s the main reason I was completely intrigued by him as I read about him in books. I think there is a lot to be said about the quality of lives my generation is leading. Are we really living for ourselves if our actions are premeditated on the reaction of others? I think the pressure of being out casted because of the way we dress, should stop. The main stress of passing and getting ones degree successfully is already overwhelming. Dressing, to me, is considered trivial on the larger scale of our lives. I guess what I have been trying to say, is that I wish that everyone on West campus would just calm down.

29th Apr2013

Shop smart

by admin

Palesa Ramphore looks at the must have fashion items for the winter season

Many women always find themselves going crazy over shopping. Shopping is the one enemy of our pockets, ladies you know this. If in doubt, go without. I rate when you’re feeling great about yourself, you won’t buy unnecessary items, and you will purchase exactly what it is you need and what looks good. Most of the time we find ourselves feeling down about how we look, and then we tend to purchase things that we don’t really need, or already have, and so here are a few pointers on what is essentially budget friendly and what looks good to glam up your wardrobe without hurting your pocket.

Go back to the beginning

Instead of buying a whole new wardrobe every time a new season sets in, remember the basic classic items that are a must have. A white, grey or black vest is one such item. Along with this is a navy or black blazer and a gorgeous well-made pair of trousers are remotely essential. The trick to learn is how to mix and modernise. The smart thing to do is pick what is functional for all occasions.


Kim Kardashian and Khloe Kardashian Odom rocking the essential items of a basic outfit.



The power of darkness

If you love shopping, then you will know that it can really take its toll on your budget. So be smart about it and go for darks. Attention is always on colour so create a modern mix. Go dark for the bottom and tops. This allows you to play around with colours in your accessories. With this formula it thus becomes difficult for you to go wrong.



Accentuate what your momma gave you!

Why do women underestimate the waist? By not doing so, focus is created on the negative areas. If your shoulders are narrower than your hips, ladies go dark and plain for the bottom and light and detailed on top. Pattern, shine, detail, skin and bright or light colours all attract the eye, so use them to show off and show case your strong points.


Vintage, vintage, vintage! Be careful ladies

Vintage catches the eye but it can also reduce the look to “what the hell is she trying to do?” On a serious note though, age matters! Yes, your grandmother’s clothes can look fresh on you if you’re 16 to 25 but don’t hold on to items for too long. In wearing that really old piece of clothes we might just think you don’t want to move on. Vintage always comes back so learn to master the modern mix.

Get out of your comfort zone

Get out of your comfort zone but be smart about it. Determine what you do already have, and what you need and how much you can spend. Shop only when you feel damn good about yourself and dress comfortably. Grab your girls and head to the shops preferably they are less crowded. Give yourself time and try out the clothes in front of the mirrors. Buy for the body you’ve got, not for the one you want.

Glam up your wardrobe with essentials that are accommodating for all seasons. These items are trends that will be forever needed in case you want your outfit.

My list of must haves


definitely needed, it is an all season item



Choose just the right amount to suit the outfit. But remember, not too much!



Bags are always part of the package.



Hats are back in very big way. They are definitely a must have.


Simple or not, belts are big every season.


These are by far no question. They are a must have.


Stockings are essential because they transform an outfit for any season.


Stockings. bag and hat

Stockings. bag and hat


-Jackets/ jerseys

A good jacket goes with anything you want it to.




These are the very essential and a must have. They are not seasonal and yet they accommodate every season.




That beanie swagg is a must.



-Chuck Taylors

Chuck Taylor shoes are all the rage.




When it comes to shopping, one should purchase items that will rotate all year round, for all seasons. Winter is approaching, so go back in your wardrobe, start mixing and modernising, the smart way. Shop smart and save more.

15th Apr2013

The Artifice of South African Fashion Week.

by admin

Palesa Vuyolwethu Tshandu talks about the recent South African Fashion Week that took place in Johannesburg.

The scene

A cold Johannesburg night with unforgiving windstorms and persistent rainfall blowing you into submission & taking with them the last bouts of your dignity. Winter was slowly rearing its ugly head and the fashion folk at Crowne Plaza in Rosebank were to be the victims of mother-natures worst atrocities. If the weather was to be any indication of the night’s events then one would be forgiven for thinking that dread & gloom would be the order of the day. This however was far from the truth as South African Fashion Week not only warmed the hearts of style curators but it also provided cathartic relief from the long week that was. To someone on the outside it might have looked like a run-off-the-mill-event. It wasn’t overtly spectacular like Paris, New York or Milan Fashion Week, but there was a like-ability & familiarity to it, something that shouted: “I am proudly South African Mchana, look at the label”. The hotel nestled the heterogeneous crowd of fashion bloggers, writers, editors, buyers, designers, art kids & wanna-be-cool kids from the 11th to the 15th of April, for the Spring/Summer 2013 collections. Each day offered a representation of disparate collections from individual or group shows (depending on where you are on the fashion hierarchy) which either become nostalgic reminders of former international fashion shows and a classic case of: “been-there-done-that-got-the-t-shirt” or induced an Oprah-esque “AHA” moment. Each day was an opportunity for the style curators to offer the audience their brains (well, at least the right hemisphere) on a silver-platter.


With the usual round of air-kisses and fake smiles, the artifice of fashion week begins with a collection by Sheer Glamour: an assortment of various designers all paying homage to South African Fashion Week sponsors, because what is a world without our beloved capitalists? Terrence Bray used inspired art nouveau and orientalism to capture glamour and feminine elegance with his collection, an exotic prettiness, even making Queen Nefertiti re-consider her title as “the most beautiful one in the land.” Subsequently, design house Stoned Cherrie sculpted a Jozi cityscape using prints, hues of ochre, coral and greens thus re-creating the urban jungle, with the modern day Tarzan adorned in a suit. In contrast, Rubicon unearthed one of the other prettier, less traditional uses of ox blood by combining it with hints of floral femininity to express an African mood in design, thus claiming her stake at the forefront of African fashion.

Stoned Cherry

Stoned Cherry



Stoned Cherry

Stoned Cherry














The second day of this three-day event was more of a media circus. With the ground floor of the hotel housing popular South African personalities, it comes as no surprise that the air was thick with pretence. The clothes however suggested otherwise. With Lana Del Rey’s song: National Anthem providing as musical accompaniment the KwaZulu-Natal Fashion Council provided much needed aesthetic relief from the pedantic collections of top South African designers. Haroun Hansrot’s collection was dominated by ostrich feathers, sequencing and intricate beading details, which reminded you of a Rio carnival minus the “peekaboo-I-see-you” aspect. Lunar, however dominated DAY 2 with their pure, authentic, weightless, collection, which made you want to sing lullaby to yourself. Blogger Milisuthando Bongela described the collection charmingly when she said: “The collection is for grown up women, who don’t swear, whose hair is always clean and always eats a healthy breakfast”, highlighting the refined nature of the collection.








The last day of South African Fashion Week was a spectacle of male oriented fashion labels, including: Skorzch, Luxion Kulca & Ephymol, each with a unique design aesthetic to welcome the age of sartorial enlightenment and to promote the feminine man. Storzch stayed true to his design aesthetic with the use of natural, warm & neutral hues in an attempt to reiterate his Xhosa heritage. Design house Loxion Kulca, however took the style curators down memory lane with 1990’s Kwatio group TKZee with Fela Kae. The military look overwhelmed the audience as the architects of style history re-introduced the cameo, pleather, studs and an all round hard look. If the clothes however, were not to your liking then the male models provided much anticipated (I’m assuming) eye-candy leaving the crowd *swooning & wooing* for more & proving that in the business of fashion, handsome is as handsome dresses.





Loxion Kulca

Loxion Kulca

Loxion Kulca

Loxion Kulca

Loxion Kulca

Loxion Kulca











25th Mar2013

A Fashion-Worthy cause

by admin

Palesa Vuyolwethu Tshandu discusses a recent fashion benefit held in Johannesburg.

Thuli Sitole on the runway

Thuli Sitole on the runway

On March 21st, fashion had one of its biggest-ever block parties. Stores in the affluent Melrose Arch stayed open late to celebrate: Night With The Stars in association with HospiceWits to raise much-needed funds for the hospice. What better way to do so than with fashion. The event organizer was Jan Malan, a production genius in the fashion industry. Malan, along with his production team had the stylish audience seated beneath a snazzy setting, that through the necessary lighting, allowed the design aesthetic of acclaimed South African designers to be greatly appreciated. A myriad of South African celebrities took to the ramp to showcase the design genius of top South African designers including design duo of Avant Apparel, KLuK CGDT, David Tlale, Rubicon and Dax Martin, just to name a few.

Some of the celebrities that participated in the event included Lindiwe Suttle who captured the audience and indeed stole the show with her umbrella dress, with lace detail, thus proclaiming the visionary genius of Avant Apparel. The ever-charismatic Kuli Roberts also pirouetted her way down the runway in a Gert Johan Coetzee creation, capturing the whimsical nature of his collection, substituting the crowds “Let-Them-Eat-Cake” attitude to a child-like state. While former Miss South Africa Thuli Sithole, received a standing ovation from the audience for braving the sky-high heels and looking as fierce as a matador in her highly pregnant state.

Drama for the evening was served on a silver platter when self-proclaimed King of the South African industry David Tlale took to the runway adorned with a black velvet cape with fur trimming (and for balance) bold black lipstick, leaving the fashion-worthy audience questioning their role in this futile and fickle industry.

Simphiwe Dana on the runway

Simphiwe Dana on the runway

The MC of the event, Harry Sideropoulos, had the style-curators of Johannesburg in stitches with various well thought out jokes and jabs. However, when a former Miss South Africa Melinda Bam lived up to her name and tripped and fell to the ground, Sideropoulos responsibly reminded the crowd that even supermodel Naomi Campbell tripped and fell at a variety of fashion shows noting that it happens and nobody should dwell on the incident.

High Street in Melrose was thus abuzz with the celebration of style created by style-curators and reminded us how exciting fashion can be, especially if it is for a good cause. Night With The Stars was a response to the notion that in these challenging times a certain kind of pleasure- such as shopping is impermissible. Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue and now creative director of CondeNast put it glowingly when she stated: “Fashion is so often presented in the culture as a thing of froth, which of course, it partly is: but the bubbles are blown with care and a sense of values” much like the Night With The Stars and HospiceWits initiative, because even frivolity must have its foundations.

25th Mar2013

My personal fashion style- Indian soul

by admin

Ntombifuthi Kubeka discusses style and fashion.

Fashion can be described as style or any form of clothing, accessories or any other trendy item. Style differs from person to person, however people conform and they would usually follow a trend set by a certain celebrity. This is not necessarily a bad thing because it is human nature to feel the need to belong and be part of a group. However there has been a growth of “personal fashion style” in recent times. This has become a crucial aspect in people’s lives, particularly the youth. Individuals are more inspired to create and represent their personal identities through fashion. It has been stated before that personal fashion style is about being connected to the very essence of who you are, knowing  the real you and embracing it. Clothes are used as a form of expression; people use personal style to send out certain statement to the world. It is when you dare to be different that you find more confidence and feel fabulous (speaking from my personal experience of course).

nk1Personal style can therefore be associated with different groups of people. Examples include Goths, Punks, rock stars, hippies, nerds, Rastafarians, soul sisters, rappers and so forth. It distinguishes one from the rest and tells a personal story about someone through clothing.

Different groups thus adopt different styles as a form of representing different identities. An example fo such would be the Izikhothanes. Buying branded cothes for them is not just about looking cool. It is part of a bigger picture, they are saying something, a message of empowerment through clothing.

nk3As stated before there are people who create their own trends, they do not follow a particular stream. I would like to think I fall under those people. I define my style as Indian soul. It’s an eclectic mixture of urban, soulful, flare and contemporary Indian culture. It incorporates various elements of style to create a modern way of dressing. I love Indian clothing, the fabric, the material, the colours and the unique designs. Harem pants are my ultimate favourite. They are long baggy pants, tapered at the ankle. I adore harem pants because they are very spacious and comfortable and different in my context.

My love for Indian clothing is associated with different aspects; my style mostly depends on my mood but at other times I just happen to mix things together and it happens to look really good. I love wearing clothes that are different from the mainstream, I feel poised and more ‘me’ when I look different. My personal style can be seen as extreme or ‘weird’ but it represents the fun person that I am and I love it!

09th Mar2012

Topics in Media and Cultural Studies Roundtable: 14 March 2012

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The Department of Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand invites you to its second roundtable this semester in the Topics in Media and Cultural Studies series. Please join us Wednesday 14 March 2012 from 2-4pm in the Committee Room, Faculty of Humanities, South-West Engineering Building, Wits East Campus. Full details on the speakers are below.


21st Sep2010

The semiotics of fashion: identity and subcultures in South Africa

by admin

Lethabo Dibetso

If you were to define identity, would it be your sense of style, the people you hang out with, the way you talk or more? What do you think….? Drawing upon his current research on Ama Kip Kip and Smarteez, Lethabo Dibetso offers an analysis.

The cultural settings in which we are born and come to maturity influence our behaviour but that does not mean that humans are robbed of individuality or free will (Giddens; 2001: 29). The latter two concepts are central to my research on the Smarteez and Ama Kip Kip ‘fanatics’. Style is a powerful statement of self-identity/individuality. According to Widdicombe and Wooftitt (1995: 17), style enables the young working-class person to achieve an image that they cannot achieve in reality.

Through style, individuals are able to live outside, what Giddens (2000: 30) calls, our ‘traditional signposts’. This refers to spaces that confine individuals from creating and recreating their identities. Brake (1985: 11) notes in his book that the symbolic use of style allows subcultural groups to distinguish themselves from other spaces and other groups. He states that through style several indicators are raised. It expresses a degree of commitment to the subculture, and it indicates membership of a specific subculture which by its very appearance disregards or attacks dominant values). Subcultural styles, then, can be seen as symbolic resources in the young person’s resistances against for example societal inequalities. Widdicombe and Wooffitt (1995: 17) give an example of the ‘teddy boys’ appropriation of an upper-class style, in the form of Edwardian dress coats, they ‘covered the gap’ between the implicated lifestyle and their largely manual, unskilled, low-status real careers and life chances.

For the Smarteez, nerdy sunglasses and unconventional hairstyles are signature, hereby subverting all conventional notions of what constitutes appropriate dress. Style is usually a principal defining feature of youthful subcultures (Brake 1985: 12). It is crucial to note, however, that it is not the specific clothes and possessions of objects in themselves that make style. Instead, it is through the process of stylisation that style is conceived. The concept stylisation refers to “the active organisation of objects with activities and outlooks, which produce an organised group-identity in the form and shape of coherent and distinctive way of being-in –the-world” (Widdicombe and Wooftitt 1995: 17). In her work, Sarah Nuttall (2003: 234-240) explores the notion of ‘self-stylisation’ in the context of Y culture in Rosebank, Johannesburg, increasingly also known as ‘loxion kulcha’ (‘loxion’ being a rescripting of the word ‘location’). This term helps us analyse Y culture, even though the location as well as the class vectors of the latter are poles apart. Because Y culture is embraced by urban black youths – a post apartheid generation of black teenagers who have attended multiracial (model C) schools – as well as many who have been to exclusively township schools. The kinds of self-stylisation that Y culture gives rise to mark important shifts in the making of subjectivities in the public sphere.

Whereas until the early 1990s, the relationship between self and ‘community’ and the broader political and economic conditions tended to frame public conception of self, post-apartheid youth culture has increasingly revealed along with global youth culture a greater attention to, and articulation of, processes of self-fashioning as artful, aesthetic, and deeply embedded in practices of imagination and in the elaboration of ‘lifestyles’ (Nuttall 2003: 238). Dress is the starting point of an exploration of self in society (Musangi 2009: 49). People have always needed a sense of who they are and a place to ground that sense of their identity in one or more of those institutions or activities of their lives: the church, their families and increasingly in the twentieth century their leisure and consumption (Grossberg et al 2006: 220).

Brake (1985: 12-13) further draws parallels between the use of style and fashion in subcultures by considering certain forms of analysis in linguistic theory. As much as we can draw meaning from a semiotic analysis of language, we can also see that the subcultural use of fashion is a rhetorical usage of formalised styles. Semiotics is central to understanding the process of meaning making (Grossberg et al 2006: 143). Through semiotics, we can understand the semiotic worth of clothing, how the appropriation of fashion by individuals can translate into meanings and express a form of resistance. To uncover the dimensions of signs, we must first attempt to unravel the codes through which meaning is organised, ‘connotative codes’ are particularly important (Hebdige 1979: 14). This is what I will continue to unmask in my current research on the self-styling of Ama Kip Kip and Smarteez. Watch this space!


Hebdige, D. (1979). Subculture. The meaning of style. London: Methuen & Co.

Grossberg, L., Wartella, E. and D.C. Whitney (2006). Media making: mass media in a popular culture. Producing identities. London: Sage, 219-252

Giddens, A. (2001). Sociology. Culture and society. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Musangi, J. (2009). Ayoba Ama Kip Kip, Ayoba. The t-shirt cult in the forging of a black urban youth identity in Johannesburg. In Scrutiny2: Issues in English Studies in Southern Africa 14(1), 49-55.

Nuttall, S. 2003. Self and text in Y magazine. In African Identities, 1(2), 235–251.

Widdicombe, S. and R. Wooffitt (1995). The language of youth subculture: social identity in action. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf

21st Sep2010

Fashion conscious: Ama Kip Kip, Amaskoppers, Smarteez

by admin

Kgalalelo Morwe discusses the revolutionary appeal of Johannesburg’s emerging and colourful fashion trends.

These are many of the personalized t-shirts, fashion styles and local, bright and colourful clothing designs that have become a common style of many youths in and around Johannesburg.  They go by the names of Smarteez, Ama Kip Kip, Amaskoppers and the list goes on. At the mention of these names, one would immediately think of food: Ama Kip Kip is a multi-coloured popcorn snack and Smarteez of course refers to colourful, sugar-coated chocolate confectionery. However, these tersm represent names given to the rapidly emerging trends of street fashion and make reference to an emerging youth identity, often associated with Soweto. Reminiscent of all generations that preceded them, the Smarteez and

Smarteez as photographed in Dazed magazine

Ama Kip Kip generations have been influenced by experiences and developments around them.

According to the South African fashion blog, SaFashInt:

“ama kip kip generation of SA says that their new struggle is not to fight against social injustice, but rather a fight against conforming to society’s stereotypes about black people, and young black men in particular”.

Rod Stanley, editor of the British style magazine Dazed and Confused, who recently travelled out with the Smarteez group, quite succinctly put I as follow:

“Too young to really remember the struggle for apartheid, they’re less politicized and claim that their ‘struggle’ is now one against blandness and conformity – to them, it’s all about partying, self-expression and challenging stereotypes”.

I personally love how the emerging street styles of Ama Kip kip, Smarteez and other local brands out there recognize the power of dressing uniquely. Also I find these street styles interesting and very appealing because they do not embrace the global fashion names such as Louis Vuitton, Versace, Nike and the list goes on. Instead this is revolutionary street fashion that resists issues of cultural imperialism, global culture, labour exploitation, conformation, and homogenization. And what better way of doing this than by creating your own account of what fashion is and not a Western-influenced and dictated sense of fashion. Fashion is in this regard seen as an epitome for expression of freedom, identity and personality. Some call it an a-political movement, youth culture, a cult…but I call it revolutionary street couture.

If the Ama Kip Kip, Smarteez brands are anything to go by, Louis Vuitton and his designer friends better watch out, T.I.A.

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