Pantsula meets Savile Row

2013-09-29 14:00

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A special thing happens when the language and style of Vogue acquires a Soweto street-savvy accent. Its aesthetic appeal echoes the spirit of the sapeurs and swenkas with a youthful thrust. It’s at once pantsula and Savile Row without feeling contrived.

This new thing is seen through an upsurge in the number of social media accounts dedicated to it.

As menswear starts to grow in South African fashion – among designers and stylists if not yet outlets – its creators are tuning in to the power of the internet to spread their look books.

SA Fashion Week may have seen early forays into this first with upmarket designers like Naked Ape becoming all the rage on the ramp.

But there’s a new vintage-inspired scene carving its way into the popular imagination.

Purveyors of this scene include collectives such as Boys of Soweto and I See A Different You.

A notable new fashion short film by Boys of Soweto, a group of designers from South Africa’s most famous township, is exemplary here. They have collaborated with Mela L Shoba, who divides herself between Joburg and California. Shoba produces narrative films and documentaries. She also applies her talents in advertising and fashion.

In 2011, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship through which she produced various films in South Africa.

The film she did with Boys of Soweto, which goes by the same title, works with a simple yet effective storyline. It features a group of dapper young men who vie for the attention of a young lady.

One of them, dressed in a crimson suit, wins her affection by helping her pick up a dropped handkerchief.

Most importantly, they may have found that if you add a simple narrative to your fashion product, you can win new power for your brand.

The film has been the talk of the internet the past few weeks.

The photo blog by I See a Different Youhas been getting fashionistas worked up for months already.

The trio – comprising Justice and Innocent Mukheli and Vuyo Mpantsha – has an aesthetic that mirrors a young man’s discovery of his father’s sense of style. It is as vintage as it is modern.

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