Ed's Note

An old friend shared a photograph* with me recently. It was a scene from my teenage years at an East London beach that was all too familiar. Well, it was in a parking lot, at the beach, with lots of cars and scores of excited young people. This is how we did beach parties in my world in 1990s Eastern Cape: we all drove to the beach, parked our cars (in this case, our parents’ cars), and the car with the biggest sound system would have its boot open, playing DJ to the entire space. It was uncomplicated: hanging around, bantering, laughing, braaiing, drinking, and flirting with the legendary beauties that were East London girls (while, naturally, a bit of a nuisance for some of the East London chaps, Gqeberha boys were very popular with the girls over Easter weekend and throughout December).

Many people at these marathon outdoor fests never saw the water, let alone dipped in a toe. There would be no swimsuits in sight, with everybody fully dressed in their freshest summer threads, which, if the photograph is any clue, could get confusing. When I assess our schizophrenic fashion posture (just the boys’, I couldn’t even begin to break down the girls’), we were caught somewhere between Florence and Harlem: an assortment of garish Italian mercerised shirts; jeans (probably Pepe), a mandatory two sizes too big and sagging heavily; with Carvela espadrilles on our feet. It’s a trainwreck now but, back then, this uniform “ate”.

I would, over many years, experiment with an assortment of styles and trends en route to finding my sartorial dialect. There was what I’d call my chubby Black Panther era (black leather, black polo neck, and dreads) at YMag/YFM and the suit-shark era at GQ. As I look at how I show up now, it’s clear that, when I leave a phase, I take a little bit of it on the road with me. I have gone back to suits; I still wear dark polo necks (albeit styled totally differently); and have retained at least one black biker jacket that will put in a lot of work this winter. I am not sure what my style conveys about me right now, but I see some of it in almost all the men’s fashion tribes we focus on in this issue — through the stories of six fascinating individuals — as we explore what relationship our style decisions have with who we are, holistically, and how we fit into the world.

Thando Made and Rodreck Mudzengerere share a brotherhood built amid piles of denim and vintage clothing. The two are synonymous with the Jozi cultural scene, representing, respectively, the denim event and heritage platform Blue Canvas Life and Ifuku, the Milpark store that has rapidly become an institution, attracting denim and vintage shopping pilgrimages from as far afield as Japan.

I was drawn to Katlego Makube’s Instagram feed (@jazzaudiophile) by his record collection and stayed for the clothes. A marketer, businessman, and foodie, Makube’s fashion tribe has been the Ivy League as far back as he could put together a decent fit, and this is a family affair. His dapper father, a sartorial and musical mentor, is a regular, preppy feature on his gram. David Harris’s passion for suiting and tailoring is infectious, especially at a time when the most recognisable global men’s uniform continues to undergo changes as the world adjusts to its growing pains.

Predicted naively by some as a post-Covid casualty, suits are back with more variety than we’ve seen in a long time and its tribe is as vast as ever. As I write this, Manchester City have been crowned the English Premier League champions, annoyingly, for the fourth year in a row. Real Madrid have just won their 15th Champions League title and the next two months will see plenty of footie on the international stage, before the league’s rinse and repeat in spring.

You will continue to see a lot of football jerseys on the streets and in malls, and those that are not quite team-replica jerseys may just be from Kabelo Kungwane’s Kasi Flavour 10 collection. Blokecore is the trend but, as Kungwane will tell you this is just an old style with a new flavour.

Finally, there was no doubt in our fashion director Sharon Armstrong’s mind on who should represent the punk tribe. At once visible and intangible, punk is as much about appearance as it is about disposition and attitude, and that attitude usually goes against the grain, challenging every freely held notion of society and self. Yuri Pailman — the punk-goth model and talent agent — is a natural disruptor, having turned what could have been a career-ending condition into a superpower. Enjoy.


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