Friday, August 6, 2010

Fingers in every cookie jar

In the past two weeks the Smarteez had visitors from Sweden by the name of Teddy and Benjamin are urban street lifestyle followers from Sweden and were in South Africa for the duration of the Fifa 2010 soccer world cup and a few weeks after to document contemporary urban lifestyle. On their trip here they documented Gazelle the originator of Limpop, Ree-birth which is a rock and roll band from the Soweto, the Smarteez and many other more cool urban movements happening in the streets of South Africa.

They got to know about Smarteez through a photo exhibition which was held in Stockholm and had featured Chris Saunders representing Johannesburg and South African fashion street culture by the form of Smarteez. What they have told us is that if I were to gallivant a few photo and youth culture exhibitions in Europe and other places I would probably spot myself more than once. Which actually makes me very proud because these images and more that were taken by Nontsikelelo Veleko before actually not only represent the movement which is Smarteez but is a representation of South Africa and where we are at as a country.
Fashion is not selfish platform were people are forced by default to show off their status, it is not an aesthetic replacement of self inferiority and nor is it a breeding house for weight obsessed sale junkies as the world perceives it and the media as a catalyst to these ideas. In a bigger more universal picture beyond the cloth fashion represents what is happening in the world at that time. What people are doing and living at a particular place and how they express these vibes and what they actually mean because as we all know that world fashion comes from and actually lives in the streets.

What this means holistically is that from about five or six years ago till present The Smarteez street culture has been representing South Africa where it comes from and where its going, its youth based and the youth is inevitably the future. So apart from Mr Mandela's and 2010 soccer world cups South Africa has been talking to the world through music and fashion and once again I'll have to say that I am proud to be part of this representation and a part of South African history, Yes i do want my fingers in every cookie jar

De ja vous, or dream come true?

Ever since my first encounters with fashion, first flirts, flings and eventually going full on I have experienced the sad times, good times and heartbreaks. I already knew as a scholar that it was fashion that I wanted to go into and thanks to the net(which was a bit slower then) I used to follow up on fashion news and updates globally and locally, but mostly locally since it was more in my face resulting from of the local designer emporium boom along with other chain retails shops.

I used to subscribe to online fashion newsletters and google a lot of local designers and brands that were big at that time like Strange love, Darkie, Ephymol etc. aspiring to be at the stage that they were at and just to be part of those circles within fashion. Years have past and I have paid some of my dues and still am, been to fashion school did my internships and so on. Yesterday to my suprise when I received the S.A. Fashion week newsletter my clothing was actually featured and was a bit startled and thought, "could I have made it?"
Even though not many people know of my clothes and brand I could somehow safely say I have in a bit of a way have made it and it occured to me that I might be those designers I used to google and admire to some aspiring fashionista some where out there, well it's my pleasure.

A dream come true it is for my side, it shows that so progress is definite so step by step eventually I will reach my peak and continue being a soldier of expression.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Shooting people doesn't kill them, exposure does...

As everyone one knows I'm part and forefront of not only the crew but the Smarteez generation. About twelve months ago we had an idea stolen from us buy white collar corporates which hurt us deeply because it felt like our baby had been snatched from our hands. It does not only qualify as plagiarism but also as exploitation. Sad thing is we were not the only victims to this exploitation, fellow 'peers' if I can call them that fell victim to this because of a desire for fame, status and belonging which we all go through as young creatives.
In the previous two odd years when blowing up and getting popular in industry we have been warned by many who have in the past gone through what we were as aspiring creatives about how too much exposure and do more good than harm. I believe the amount I've recieved does me good in a sense that me wanting to break my brand and self into an international audience would be somehow easier because we(Smarteez and I) have been made into rock stars by good friends and colleages, the likes of freelance and Colors magazine photographer Chris Saunders, freelance award winning journalist Milisuthando Bongela and acclaimed photographer Lolo Veleko.

Fame comes at a price which in our case is too much to handle for others, with ideas so big they can result in the exploitation of many. The Smarteez aesthetic has spread country wide leaving room for more of this exploitation to happen and so much so that it blindfolds the victims into them not seeing or believing that they're part of the generation as too. We have been bad mouthed, copied and tarnished for being an original South African street youth culture which In my mind should be celebrated and supported, I know I'd do that even if I wasn't any part of it.

The moral is that as much as we might be hungry to express our individual identity and creativity which is mostly supported by the lenses we love so much, they can kill us too. The trick is to find yourself within your space and use it wisely by taking your time and not succumbing into the pressure to deliver. Living and riding on peoples ideas, creativity and fame will never be in fashion and I can bet the bit of my fame I have on it. The exposure can kill you, so do not forget your sun blocks.

Reference Quote:

"Nale especially hates it when people believe she is aligned with the Smarteez. The Smarteez's dogmatic allegiance to a particular dress sense doesn't sit well with Nale's reverence for individualism. "
"The Smarteez thing is a trend. But it is even worse because there is no room for individual style: they are all the same. It's like a uniform. If two or three of them get tired of dressing the same way then what happens to the group? If I get tired of sneakers and decide to invest in heels it wouldn't affect my friendship with Guy," says Nale.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Brand innovation

Last night I attended the brand innovation information session at Vega school of branding and communication in Johannesburg where i'll be furthering my studies after graduating in fashion. I was privelaged enough to get a bursury as remuneration for being the 'face' of the instition during the 2010 period. It only took a phone call for everything to happen so yes I do believe in miracles.

I'm just excited by the possiblilties of the merger between my fashion knowledge and soon to be aquired branding forward thinking skills, it could possibly land me as an innovater in fashion branding in South Africa and possibly the world. I'd be able to help fashion brands and friends of industry because the world is constantly changing and evolving and so does the mindset of the consumer, which is why this is such a good platform to stay ahead on trends fashion and otherwise.

First time for everything

From my heart to yours I'd like to invite you to share with me my experiences through my journey as a creative and self brand embassador.

By following this blog you will be updated on happenings of the Kepi Mngomezulu clothing line and progress on other levels, new stockists, photo shoots, exibitions, sales and fashion shows. It will be a platform where you can get involved in my creative happenings and get invloved with my journey through it.

The following photographs are from my debut range started in 2010 shot by London college of fashion honors photography student Jonty van Zeller for his dissertation. The theme was 'everyday is Sunday' reflecting on the Sunday culture of dressing up and looking good in the township. The range had a few sales for a debut range but the rest of it will be available for less at the LISOF fashion sale at the end of July 2010 in Johannesburg, I'll keep you updated on that.

Hope you enjoy the blog and please do not forget to spread the word about it as it aims to inspire from is once once again from my heart to yours.