Fashion and hip-hop co-exist in a beautiful relationship where the two worlds spill into each other. These are the hip-hop-affiliated South African brands that left their mark on 2022…
Written by Boitumelo Molamu
Hip-hop and fashion continue to influence each other. Artists are forever mentioning and flexing the latest textiles from their favourite designer brands.
Old-school rappers like Biggie, Camron, Jim Jones and many others are fashion and style icons of note. Today, it’s the likes of A$AP Rocky and Westside Gunn.
Designers and brands have also supported the culture. The late Virgil Abloh and his high-fashion-meets-streets brand Off-White co-signed and collaborated with a number of artists, while NIGO and Hiroshi Fujiwara are among those who pioneered the co-existence of hip-hop culture and fashion.
South Africa is no different. So many of our artists – such as the legendary Riky Rick, Champaign69, Moozlie and Stilo Magolide – have blurred the lines between music and fashion. This is not only based on their unique style, but also on their willingness to support and show love to local designers and brands. We still have a long way to go, as more artists need to take charge of their image, and hire stylists and art directors and collaborate with brands more often.
At the helm of that trajectory are certain brands that are shaping the future.
Our list of bands that shone in 2022 is curated based on the brand’s social activity, design and cultural presence. The list is in no particular order, and its main aim is to celebrate and showcase the brands that caught our attention in 2022.
The Johannesburg-based brand has been around, building its name in the culture, for years now, through moves such as pop-ups at Sneaker Exchange and collaborating with Levi’s Haus of Strauss on a 1 of 1 piece. Their collaboration with Cotton Fest – which led to it being worn by the likes of Uncle Vinny and Major League DJz – introduced the brand to a new audience and the team ran with it, continuously growing with their collaboration with Balcony Mix by the Major League DJz. There is a lot that Valhalla is yet to deliver, as it’s still in its early stages, but we have a feeling that more is yet to come to set the brand on a higher stage.
Cape Town has always delivered classics. Cape Town fashion offers a wide range of brands and Cultish Supply is by far one of the more exciting ones right now. From their graphic tees to their sweaters, the brand’s product offering has stood out from the rest of the competition due to its quality of material and print. In the past year, the brand has grown from having just one flagship store in Cape Town to now being offered at the EGG+YAWA store in Johannesburg. With co-signs from the likes of Blxckie and Costa Titch, there are a lot of eyes on Cultish, and so far, the brand has not disappointed.
What makes Artelier exciting is that their approach is different compared to what we’ve got used to. Internationally, there’s been a trend of tech-wear brands demanding their market share and expanding their reach, owing to the rise of gorpcore, a style defined by wearing utilitarian, functional, outdoors-inspired gear. Pushing the same movement in South Africa are brands such as Artelier, hailing from Pretoria, and quickly making its mark across the country. Artelier blends the design language of workwear and utility, and throughout late 2021 and 2022, the brand has shown potential, from presenting at SA Fashion Week to having pop-ups at the now-iconic 99 Juta Street, and also being a part of the brands curated at the 99 Design Store. We are yet to see more of Artelier and cannot wait to see it grow to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of A-Cold-Wall or even Acronym.
For the past year, it has been impossible to have a conversation about South African fashion without mentioning Wanda Lephoto. Although Wanda has been around and constantly dominating since 2017, unfortunately, from 2020 onwards, the brand was temporarily closed. However, 2022 has been the year the presence of Wanda Lephoto was felt. The designer solidified his domination of 2022 with his spring/summer collection, which he presented during Milan Fashion Week. He topped that with one of the best collaborations of the year – the High-Shine Mule with Dakota. To top the year off, Wanda Lephoto would later on have an exhibition at Kalashnikovv Gallery in partnership with Bulldog Gin, exhibiting editorials from the brand. Wanda Lephoto is loved by the masses, advocated by stylists such as Bee Diamondhead and forever cherished by hip-hop, thanks to the co-sign from the late Riky Rick.
For years now, Leaf Apparel has been one of Cape Town’s greatest exports. The brand’s product offering is in line with Cape Town’s take on fashion, and streetwear has remained in the brand’s DNA, throughout its growth. Between 2021 and 2022, Leaf Apparel was featured in GQ South Africa several times and was worn by Uncle Vinny and Sun-El Musician.
Furthermore, the brand conquered the year with the announcement that they will be having a pop-up at this year’s Sole DXB, an annual footwear, music, art and lifestyle festival that takes place in the Dubai Design District in the UAE. Leaf Apparel has been around for a few years, and it’s pleasant to see the brand continue to make major strides.
Long Season, based in Joburg, is one brand that serves as a bridge between high fashion and culture. The brand has been on an undeniable rise. In late 2021, it cemented its name with its collaboration with Rocking the Daises, producing a capsule collection of an assortment of products. Their growth streak continued throughout 2022, when they collaborated with the likes of Yoco and also presented their capsule collection. With co-signs from the likes of Uncle Partytime and African Ginger, Long Season is yet to see their height, but with all they’ve done within just a few years, we cannot wait to see how far they take their design language, and how far the brand goes.