Previously HYPE dropped an article on the Chronicles of Styla Gang and conducted an interview with the Adidas best original crew winners, which included discussions on how they started out to discussions on how they stand-out. This time HYPE exclusively follows up with Styla Gang on talks about their recent Vmswenko Pop-Up Market which took place earlier this year, their progression since our last interview and their opinions & views on our local street culture. If you’re a follower of street culture this one is for you…
The last time we had an interview with Styla Gang, you mentioned that “Setting Trends & Making Friends” was your motto, fast-forward to today, how have Styla Gang, progressed since the last time we spoke?
Since we last spoke the brand (Styla Gang) has had the opportunity to exhibit its work and clothing products from their street wear label @SGOD_ZA at STRCRD 2013 last September, introducing it to the global culture and having our famous creation, the Dashiki T-shirt, signed by most influential creatives around the world as Authority of the Authentic creation. Names include: Brooklyn Circus, Art Comes First, Street Etiquette, King Adz, Anthea Knows Best, Lufuno Love, Mkay Fresh, BMK Team (b*tches must know),the list goes on and on. We also had a 4 city tour called Vmswenko Tour which saw us travel to Cape Town, Durban, Rustenburg and Mafikeng during the first week of December. The tour hosted @SGOD_ZA products through a pop-up stall, to promote our clothing line in new markets where we have been receiving inquiries for products and also meet up with friends that appreciate the trends in other parts of South Africa that have also shown interest in our work as Styla Gang.
The Vmswenko Pop-Up Market is your latest venture, what is this event all about?
Vmswenko Pop-Up Market (@VmswenkoZA) is a hang-out spot for young street wear and fashion enthusiasts, where like-minded people can “kick it”, share ideas & create friendships which can influence growing the local street culture. The event is a pop-up market which consists of popular locally produced South African Street Wear brands hand picked by Styla Gang, offering customers a unique shopping experience. The event includes activities such as raffle competitions, game arcades, music entertainment from our close network of best upcoming artists & DJ’s and fresh food stalls that offer different exciting dishes from local suppliers.
We are influenced by people who have successfully turned run-down building areas into spaces that accommodate large numbers of people that come from different places and create a platform for other entrepreneurs to grow their businesses & contribute to building cultures that influence a generation to change. The internet also has an influence through finding information to help us move forward, but totally we drive inspiration from people around us who have used limited resources to achieve their big dreams, as well as our apprentice masters who guide us in making better decisions.
Although J-Sec is famous for its street fashion scene, is it a struggle to keep up with the trends & competition in such a constant-evolving fashion community? Or has Styla Gang mastered the formula to stand out?
Yes it is a struggle to keep up as there are many talented designers and strong brands in J-Sec, but our formula as a brand to keep ahead is to design innovative and unique products that are not available on the market yet, using different marketing and advertising strategies that will meet the demand or standards of consumers that we cater for currently.
What have been your biggest challenges as young fashion designers?
As a creative collective generally, juggling school and a growing business limits our time to work on the brand.
The growth of street fashion over the years has really been praised amongst the “high fashion industry”. What are your opinions on street fashions growth, considering the fact that there are so many street brands out there? You think there’s still some sort of lack in the progress of our local street fashion and do people really support the culture?
Well honestly, street fashion has grown to be interesting as compared to the time before we came out to the world. We have seen a lot of interaction around street fashion in South Africa, with opportunities such as STRCRD which create a platform for local creatives to engage with international creatives and this has seen the culture grow as both worlds come together through street culture. This interaction increases or exposes local creatives to easy ways of getting things done. Well according to our world and how we view things, there is a fair increase of quality driven brands which have an impact in growing the local culture and more are still coming. With the pace that we are at now, we believe SA will produce good quality brands as years go by which will further grow the local culture. We see a lot of young people showing much interest in the culture which is good as they are viewed as the future generation, but we also have those that have a negative perspective on local brands; people need to understand the opportunities that supporting local production will have on employment and growing and developing the country.
The build-up to the Vmswenko Pop-up Market revealed details on how the involvement of popular street brands such as BUTAN, GALXBOY, SHOT by W.A.T.E.R & 2BOP (just to mention a few) would be present for sale purposes. Do you think there’s enough teamwork in our local street fashion game? When comparing how international street brands execute collaborations so trendy…Are we there yet?
Local brands believe they will once collaborate with other brands soon as they are established as they are currently in their developing phase. What needs to be understood is that collaborations also play a vital role in developing brands through combining abilities & building a bigger audience for brands collaborating. That’s why @VmswenkoZA was formed, to create the influence for brands to work together as it is trying to install how local brands are viewed, as one country with different parts/provinces which work together to better the countries GDP, rather than different countries fighting for the same resources which in this case is consumers and being seen better than the other. We believe South Africa is actually halfway there as we only have about 5/6 quality locally produced brands which can unite to create exciting apparel, we just need to approach the right brand to work with. International street wear brands collaborate more because of them wanting to fuse their brand’s aesthetics to tap into a certain market or feed off a trend that is executed better by a certain brand. So its more about business decisions rather than relational matters which we need to learn from.
It’s been a minute since you dropped a new collection of threads. You planning on dropping new stuff anytime soon & if so what can we expect?
The reason why we have been on the down low is that we have been working to improve all sectors of the brand such as quality of brands products, clarity of different services offered, packaging of offered products and services offered, marketing and advertising strategies before we come out to the world as young fashion entrepreneurs. For now people can expect new improved quality long sleeve dashiki t-shirts with new added designs which will be made available in selected stores across the country. People can expect more work from our new service offering @VmswenkoZA, a soup kitchen and clothing donations in Soweto because we feel we are socially responsible participants and actors of our communities. We are working on the @SGOD_ZA Spring/Summer 14/15 collection which is due to drop at STRCRD14.
Any advice you could dish out to emerging fashion designers looking to set-up their own street brands?
If people are looking at starting their own brands they should be patient and take some time in finding out or knowing what kind of brand they want to develop. Create a business plan, secure funds for production and develop a unique culture that will make their brand stand out in the industry. More detailed information in starting a brand can be found in Jermain Charles book @ZA_XL “How to Start a Street Wear Brand” and retails at R40 and could be found via us in J-Sec. This book will take you through the necessary steps you need to follow in starting a street wear brand and could work as your first source of information.
*Here’s a link to a video of the Vmswenko sale: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=i7ErsJYoN9U&sns=em
Written by: Rudzani “@Roo_AT” Netshiheni