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Street fashion for the nation

For 43-year-old Abigail Sizani fashion is much more than a mundane act of getting dressed.

“Since I had a stroke recently, I find that fashion is a way of making myself feel better by looking better.

“It helps me lift my spirit when I feel down.”

Standing in line for a bus in Johannesburg’s CBD, the petite woman is adorned in a check jacket, floral printed pants, and white sneakers.

Her black shoulder-length hair, which gently waves in the morning breeze, frames her striking facial features and shy smile.

Sizani described her style as a “unique and simple take on street fashion”.

“I wouldn’t say that I am a street fashion enthusiast, I just wear what feels right for me. That is what street fashion means to me, style that people can create for themselves.”

In the week before Christmas, Sizani and many others were seen strolling the streets of Johannesburg in their distinctive, “street fashion” attire.

The trend has discretely been in the fashion background for years, but celebrities such as musicians Beyonce, Iggy Azalea, Nicki Minaj, as well as their male counterparts Kanye West and Chris Brown recently elevated the trend into the public domain.

This too is the case for South African celebrities such as rappers Cassper Nyovest and AKA, who have made the trend more acclaimed.

The trend refers to clothing which includes printed fabrics, slogan and pattern T-shirts, ripped jeans, and head gear.

According to Wikipedia, street fashion is described as “fashion that is considered to have emerged not from studios, but from the grassroots. Street fashion is generally associated with youth culture and is most often seen in major urban centres”.

This definition generally met the consensus of Johannesburg fashionastas’ definition of the trend.

“To me, street fashion is [a] personal, unique style,” says Aaron Mokena, 21.

“I don’t necessarily follow fashion trends; I want my clothes to be unique, to reflect myself.”

Although Xoli Mabuya, 25, says she uses fashion magazines as a source of style inspiration, she agrees that street fashion to her means a distinctive take on fashion.

“I might use magazines as a source of inspiration but I adapt it to match my own personal style.

“I believe in simplicity, in expressing myself, in being proudly Africa. Whether or not that is fashionable is beside the point.”

Dressed in turquoise skinny jeans, beige lace-up shoes and a chocolate brown sweater, Alpheus Wesi, 24, verifies why Joburgers find street style appealing.

“People have different styles and that is why street fashion is ideal. It allows for personal interpretation.”

These sentiments were echoed by Andreas Nare, 36, who attributed much of the trend to Joburg’s townships.

“People from the townships have been embracing street fashion for years, but now since celebrities are seen wearing the trend, all types of people now want to be part of it.”

Lerato Gumbi, 29, acknowledges the impact that townships have on street fashion but said the reason for its popularity was because the trend was so adaptable.

“We borrow elements from township fashion and adapt it in our own way, to create our own, unique style.”

Grazia magazine junior fashion editor Nonkuthalo Thithi praised the trend for its versatility and described it as a “world-wide phenomenon”.

“Street fashion is everyday wear that we find in the streets in many cities all around the world.

“From Cape Town to Paris, you can tell the differences between cities by looking at their street fashion.”

For those who might be sceptical about following the trend, Thithi advises to start with incorporating small elements of street fashion into their everyday outfits.

“For an edgier look, try wearing a work suit with sneakers or wearing a T-shirt instead of a shirt to work.”

“Also try adding accessories such as a chunky necklace to your everyday outfit.”

– Sapa


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