Dick­ies fa­nat­ics get their own store

Mail & Guardian - - Fashion & Film - Zaza Hlalethwa

There’s al­ways that one un­cle in black fam­i­lies. The malume who sports a gold chain, uses a pair of balled-up stock­ings to shine his two-tone Brent­wood shoes and only speaks tsot­si­taal.

He sits in a chair with his legs crossed and his arms rest­ing on his knees to show off his gold watch and four to six rings he bought from Sterns or Amer­i­can Swiss. None of us know what his hair looks like be­cause he only re­moves his trilby or spot­tie to pay his re­spects dur­ing a fu­neral.

He is the malume who, no mat­ter his age, prefers to be called Bra.

In my fam­ily this un­cle was Bra Make­tane, who lived in P Block in Temba, near Ham­man­skraal. Over the De­cem­ber hol­i­days, when I would visit Temba, I would see the old man sit­ting on his ve­randa, rolling a cig­a­rette, decked out in at least one Dick­ies work­wear item. He had the long-sleeved over­alls, sev­eral two-piece suits, T-shirts and a few pairs of can­vas shoes.

My mother still tells me tales about the lengths he and his clique went to, to make sure they looked the part. They would hop be­tween shops such John Craig, Web­bers, Mr Snob and John Orr’s look­ing for the lat­est pieces to make up their out­fits. If they didn’t find it in Pre­to­ria’s city cen­tre, a plan was made for them to travel to the Ori­en­tal Plaza in down­town Jo­han­nes­burg.

In the United States, peo­ple who col­lect cloth­ing, shoes and other items from a par­tic­u­lar shop or in a par­tic­u­lar style — in the way many Bra Malumes do with Dick­ies — have come to be known as Hype­beasts, af­ter the on­line life­style mag­a­zine of the same name.

In Kin­shasa and Braz­zav­ille, there are Les Sapeurs, the el­e­gant gen­tle­men of the Congo. In the 1980s, Polo Sport was the brand of choice for teens in Brook­lyn, who were known as the Lo-Lifes. And here at home we have dikhotane and mat­sat­santsa.

All groups are dif­fer­ent, but what ties them to­gether is their por­trayal of the re­la­tion­ship that peo­ple have had with the sar­to­rial over the years.

These ways of abo Bra Malume, whom we saw as we grew, have not died. The act of adorn­ing them­selves in cer­tain styles con­tin­ues to­day.

Dick­ies work­wear has a strong link with sep­a­ntsula for ex­am­ple. School­child­ren have merged it into their uni­forms by swap­ping their slacks for the more durable work pants and it is now trick­ling into the streetwear cup­boards of the fash­ion­istas of Braam­fontein, oth­er­wise known as Braam Lords.

Af­ter land­ing in South Africa more than 30 years ago, Dick­ies has opened its first flag­ship store at Jo­han­nes­burg’s South­gate Mall.

The store’s win­dows show off an in­dus­trial in­te­rior over­flow­ing with mer­chan­dise in mus­tards, yel­lows, reds, blues, greys and blacks that beckon passers-by to splurge.

On Fri­day night last week, Hype­beasts, New Age pantsu­las and the Bra Malumes came out in their num­bers in Dick­ies at­tire to chris­ten the store.

Bonolo Moleme, Dick­ies brand man­ager in South Africa, said: “Some man even had a Dick­ies tat­too on his arm. When I saw that, it re­ally talked to how deep the loy­alty and the af­fil­i­a­tion with the brand was for some­one to tat­too the Dick­ies logo and name on their arm.”

There was a tat­too artist at the open­ing of­fer­ing tat­toos for free and be­cause com­mu­nion be­tween the Dick­ies sup­port­ers was high, it didn’t seem strange when one of them fol­lowed suit and got the name Dick­ies tat­tooed on his calf.

Dick­ies was founded in 1922 by two Texan busi­ness­men. Moleme said the de­ci­sion to open the store was in hon­our of the loy­alty that South Africans have shown over the past 30 years and now the grow­ing num­ber of trend fol­low­ers.

“We want to give our cus­tomers a well-rounded, 360 ex­pe­ri­ence. We have been trad­ing in the coun­try for over 30 years and have done so through our re­tail part­ners that we distributed to. Right now, it’s time to tell the Dick­ies story in its en­tirety.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.