Win yourself a pair of Vaya sneakers

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Visit Vaya and see if this local brand is worth rocking.
Photos: Supplied
Visit Vaya and see if this local brand is worth rocking. Photos: Supplied

TRENDING


Local sneaker culture welcome yet another home grown brand into the fold. Phumlani S Langa hollers at the owner of Vaya. 

Sneaker culture is far from the niche hobby it once was. It has become so abundant that some die-hard sneaker heads even avoid certain kicks such as the Nike Air Max 90 circa 2016 or the Air Jordans that came a few years after that, because everybody seems to have them. Rocking cuts that everybody has flies in the face of true sneaker culture.

The South African market has also adjusted and now boasts multiple home-grown brands such as Bathu and Drip Footwear. Another local brand looking to get you stepping right is Vaya.

Themba Makamo (38), from Katlehong, Gauteng, envisioned owning his own brand of sneakers and set out to do just that by using his passion for footwear as the driving energy for his brand.

Vaya sneakers
Sneaking in: Vaya owner Themba Makamo transformed his passion for kicks into a fully fledged business. Photos: Supplied

READ: Bathu-the kicks that took the sneaker game by storm 

Makamo says: “I’ve been a sneaker head my whole life. I grew up in the culture of collecting sneakers. Growing up in the township, you always wanted to belong in a group. This boosted your confidence and made you feel like someone. And sneakers are a huge deal of defining that identity. In my case, I was very comfortable in all the various sneaker subcultures – whether it pantsula, bujwa or hip-hop, I had my feet in all of them.”

Vaya sneakers
You down to Vaya? Photos: Supplied

Vaya has been his brainchild for a while now and was fully conceived last year in February. Beyond his proclivity for fly trainers, Makamo has a keen business acumen, as he also has several businesses, including one that manufactures tombstones.

He’s a man on the move, which might explain his choice of name for his product. The laid-back entrepreneur expounds: “All my life I’ve been someone who follows his heart. So, whichever dream or passion I’ve had at any given point, I’ve gone for it. I feel this is a gift. And, as a result, I wanted to transfer that energy into a product that, whenever someone sees or wears it, reminded them to go for their dreams. Hence the name ‘Vaya’, which literally translates to ‘go’ in township slang.”

Hot steps or are these best left on the shelf? Let us know if you’re feeling these local sneaks. Photos: Supplied

It is early days and new sneaker brands take time to get going as real heads buy into more than just crispy contours and colourways. The idea is to sell a sliver of history, to bestow wearable art that is more than just functional. For a brand to establish an ethos, it takes a while to reach the stature of joints such as Vans, which are synonymous with skateboarding, or even something like Kanye West’s wildly popular Adidas Yeezy line of shoes. Yeezys might look suspect, but they did hurdle over the jump man (the Air Jordan logo) in terms of all-time sales and in a shorter time of existence, simply because of what the shoe appears to embody – the abundant and eccentric energy of the genius that is West … although that could be debatable.

READ: We ranked South Africa's 5 best sneaker drops 

So, what is the culture of Vaya beyond providing a sheath for the foot?

“Our mission is to help people to go for their dreams. And, so far, with every milestone we reach, we’ve received positive feedback from people who have been inspired to also start or follow their dreams. We are all about confidence, and that is, ultimately, how we want people to feel when they wear Vaya.”

Makamo presently handles all the design elements himself, although he has tapped a designer for some of his newer releases, which should hit shelves sometime this year. He didn’t care to touch on where he sources his material or how he went about choosing the mould for his first release, as those are trade secrets.

Someone like the always opinionated Nota Baloyi would suggest that some of these local brands are not as indigenous as they seem, with entire products being created in China and then simply imported.

READ: We delve into the foot fetish files

Makamo may have skirted around that, but he does mention how he garners inspiration from everyday life.

“With our first sneaker, our goal was to introduce a product that was so good looking that it inspired confidence in the wearer.”

He is adamant that the future holds a few new drops as well as some collaborative efforts.

“There’s so much power in collaboration and we are in talks with creatives in other creative industries. So yes, there’s something in the pipeline. We are introducing new and exciting colourways. We are also launching a campaign to inspire rural and township children to go for their dreams.”

. Vaya can be purchased at one of two outlets: the online store, vaya4it.co.za, as well as a shop you can physically visit at the Newtown Junction Mall in Johannesburg

WIN WIN WIN

Vaya and #Trending have four pairs of Vaya for lucky readers to win. To enter, tell us when Vaya sneakers first became available for purchase.

SMS your answer as the keyword, along with your name, surname, shoe size, province and email address to 34217. SMSes cost R1.50. Free SMSes do not apply. Terms and conditions apply.


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Phumlani S Langa 

Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
Phumlani.Sithebe@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

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