I have always asked myself why should I care about street fashion? Here’s the thing. I’m not a typical fashion guy. I am not fashionable. My fashion sense is simple and more classic, rather than trend-led. But I do find street fashion endlessly, academically fascinating. It’s hard to disregard the trend, it is everywhere you go from Townships to Urban Center’s like Braamfontein and Maboneng Precinct.
courtesy of Donna Fanyana Mathole, IG: @donnalidinho
It is evident that street fashion has taken over and evolved over time. I reached out to the Co-founder of Thesis Lifestyle Wandile Zondo to help me understand more about the phenomenon, having popularized street fashion and street culture in Soweto.
Located in the heart of Soweto, Mofolo Village. Thesis Lifestyle initially started as a streetwear brand however, it has evolved over the years branching out into four pillars namely, Clothing, Retail, Events and Social impact. The brand has maintained its MOTTO, which is “Define Yourself”
Image from https://www.facebook.com/ThesisLifestyle
Muzi: What is Street style? And how is it linked to Street Culture?
Wandile: Street style is ready to wear fashion (plain t-shirt, denim etc). It’s not your normal runway fashion but, you can mix it up with high fashion to make it relevant. It is a comprehensive approach to fashion and produces styles which intersect and differ from mainstream fashion considerations. Street fashion is an important part of society and culture, and it has the potential to bring different people together to celebrate their own individuality. The best way to enjoy fashion is to wear what you love and be yourself.
Muzi: What’s the current state of SA Street Culture? And is there a future for street style/culture?
Wandile: In terms of street culture and fashion we are still young as a country but we’re slowly growing. There’s been a giant leap with the internet, the younger generation is constantly on the net trying to catch up with international trends. Personally, I believe street culture should be an expression of a place and time, Instead of emulating western trends we need to start embracing local trends. In addition, I would like the SA street style to be defined by local brands, as we need to tell our own narrative. Street culture has evolved in the past ten years, 2010 to 2012 was just the beginning of street-culture in SA and since from then, we’ve seen the phenomenon grow e.g. the Sneak-er culture is the current trend. There’s definitely room for street style/culture. I foresee more and more young people putting out their brands and creating their own stuff, so the spike in growth is on another level.
Muzi: How important is a subculture in street style/culture?
Wandile: Every culture is basically a subculture to one another and no culture exists on its own. In essence, subcultures, are values and norms distinct from those of the majority and are held by a group within wider society. For example, these groups might include hippies, fans of hip hop or bikers to mention a few. Subculture is important in keeping the culture interlinked and to inspire each other for one common goal. We launched “Thesis Run Cru” in 2014 with the aim of promoting an urban running culture in the hope of getting the youth and people of Soweto doing something for their health in a fun and supportive way.
Muzi: We’ve seen Thesis Lifestyle grow and evolve over the years. Where are you right now as a brand?
Wandile: Thesis Lifestyle has been around for 15 years and that’s a huge milestone if you can ask me. We have managed to build a successful brand. Now, the focus is to build a successful business and it may take another 15 years to do that. You know what they say! “A business has to survive before it starts making money”. Celebrations for our 15-year milestone will commence on the 16th of June 2020. We’re also pleased to have inspired a lot of young people around Soweto to define themselves and their brands.
Muzi: Where to from here as a brand?
Wandile: Upwards, the sky is not the limit. We’ll be doing more stuff and having fun doing it. When the current pandemic ends, we will then start with our lined up projects as well as collaborations to celebrate our 15-year milestone.