US News Obsession sneakers: the inventiveness of South African urban culture

11:25  09 march  2021
11:25  09 march  2021 Source:   pressfrom.com

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A real fashion show: young people lining up in front of this boutique in a wealthy district of Johannesburg to buy a preview of an exclusive model of basketball American style, have a daring and colorful array of models on their feet.

In the big cities of South Africa, young people compete in inventiveness and take care of their sneakers. They sign a singularity, they make you notice, they tell your social position.

"Your shoes tell your story," Rasik "Mr.ëksê" Green, tank top and cap, told AFP, putting the finishing touches to a mural in the trendy Maboneng district. This graffiti artist, gray saggy sneakers on his feet, also designs new pairs to offer them a unique design.

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In this multicultural country, with people of all colors and twelve official languages, sneakers are a way of expressing where you come from.

"We all know that the people of Cape Town (south) are connected + bubbles +", these big tennis shoes with thick soles. "In Soweto, it's more the American Converse, cut low or high. "It's kind of a code."

Young South Africans, heirs to a rich musical culture, are also immersed in that of American hip-hop.

The "sneaker hunters", in the most industrialized country in Africa, collect and trade models from all over the world propelled, even more in times of confinement, by online purchases.

In 2019, the American brand Reebok collaborates with a South African rap star, AKA: 800 pairs of this SneAFA model are sold in ten minutes on the site.

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- Gangsters and protesters -

Bright colors, worn with wear or in daring matte leather, these shoes are part of South Africa in a multi-faceted urban image.

Formerly linked to the township gangsters of the 1980s, the Chuck Taylor, Converse brand high tops reinforced with latex around the edges, stood out from their sulphurous image.

"My parents didn't want me to buy them, they were associated with a culture of crime," recalls Hector Mgiba, 28, a great collector in Soweto. As a teenager, he braved the parental ban and saved up to afford a second-hand pair.

These shoes also evoked the "pantsula", an urban protest dance born in the townships of Johannesburg, chic shirt-pants outfits with ultra-fast steps.

They were revived again by the emergence of kwaito, a musical style that has been widespread since the 1990s by post-apartheid youth, born with democracy.

In town, many trendy young and old alike still wear it today, associated with a suit, a well-cut jacket.

Recently, South African entrepreneurs have embarked on the adventure, offering creative models.

Kid, he couldn't afford the latest sneakers. So designer Lakau Sehoana made his first pair out of torn shoes, a piece of jeans and plastic. Today his brand, Drip, created in 2019 and identifiable by its brightly colored models, has five stores.

Another local brand, "Bathu", a Zulu slang term, is noted for its sophisticated meshwork and zebra soles.

One of its limited editions sold for the equivalent of over 20,000 euros a pair. “Unthinkable thirty years ago,” comments graffiti artist Green.

mgu / ger / jhd

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This is interesting!