Making it big: Sartists and the new black

 Fashion infused with a post-apartheid mentality is attracting the attention of big international brands. Innovators of style – Kabelo Kungwane and Wanda Lephoto, collectively known as the Sartists – are heading to the UK to exhibit their work at the Brighton Museum in April. The duo will represent Johannesburg at the African Fashion Cities Exhibition, […]

 Fashion infused with a post-apartheid mentality is attracting the attention of big international brands.

SartistInnovators of style – Kabelo Kungwane and Wanda Lephoto, collectively known as the Sartists – are heading to the UK to exhibit their work at the Brighton Museum in April.

The duo will represent Johannesburg at the African Fashion Cities Exhibition, exhibiting the second part of their sports image series, Tennis, alongside an installation of the actual garments from the shoot.

Lephoto is a fashion designer residing in Berea, Johannesburg and Kungwane is a journalist from Alexandra. The two 22-year-olds met in high school.

Sartist3Both sought to redefine popular concepts of what it means to be black by documenting their own lives in South Africa – and their unique style choices.

“We aim to recreate and communicate untold authentic stories though fashion and photography. We offer art-creative direction, fashion design and styling services in addition to consulting on photography and trend analysis.”

In 2015, to promote their shell-toe sneaker, Adidas embarked on a global ”superstar” campaign to celebrate icons from various spheres, including David Beckham, Pusha T, Yoon Ambush and Pharrell Williams.

The Sartists supported the South African leg of the project and their #OriginalSuperstars were unveiled in a window installation at AREA3 in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

Lephoto and Kungwane also created their own piece of clothing, which they called the two piece ”Adidas suit”.

“We want to give a voice to urban South African culture while educating the world about the challenges experienced by people living in post-apartheid South Africa,” said the pair.

The Sartists wanted to have a local angle in their conceptualisation of the shoot. Photographed by Andile Buka, the brief was to make the campaign more South African.

Sartist2“We celebrated our own superstars, people we looked up to and listened to when we grew up, such as the kwaito stars of the ’90s – Trompies and Alaska.

“We customised garments that were inspired by their styles from coveralls to overalls and collaborated with artists like Isaac Zavala and Marc Sign who hand-painted barbershop art on the garments. and also did the mural in the shoot.

“We were going for the aesthetic of ’90s kwaito album covers for the look-book.

“We curated the supershell campaign by Pharrell Williams, doing everything from art direction to the look-book, to shooting it and styling it our own way. We were given a lot of creative freedom.”

Their work is strongly influenced by African cultural pioneers.

“Our idol is photographer Santu Mofokeng – he published a book titled The Black Photo Album. It changed our lives.”

The Sartists are still trying to understand and appreciate their identity, and are currently researching African textile manufacturing.

They have also worked with American men’s casual wear brand The Brooklyn Circus – a brand that claims to find inspiration in the pages of history books and plans to change the way Americans dress, one iconic silhouette at a time.

The Sartists collaborated with them on a collection called ”The Uniform” with the aim of creating a timeless design that will survive changing trends.

“The Brooklyn Circus is one of those brands we really love, it inspired us to do what we’ve been doing since we started out,” said the Sartists.

”We share the same vision on the overlap between style and culture.”

They also share a love of vintage and crafting clothes with pride.

“The Bkc is not a trendy brand. They do their own thing and, like us, they don’t like fast fashion.”

By: Rea Khoabane for www.timeslive.co.za

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