They’re cor­ner­ing lo­cal mar­ket on cool

Wood­stock space where cre­ations are clothed in ur­ban edgi­ness

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - MICHAEL MOR­RIS

SAVVY brand- build­ing has merged with loose-limbed street cul­ture at Wood­stock’s cor­ner store – an airy, light-filled and de­cep­tively unas­sum­ing lo­ca­tion on the city’s young ur­ban scene.

The en­ter­prise – in part a nos­tal­gic nod to the cor­ner shop hang­out, that quin­tes­sen­tial node of so­cial ex­change in most older cityfringe sub­urbs – is a nexus of home­grown streetwear design and man­u­fac­ture and the global ur­ban­ism of cool and con­nect­ed­ness.

The bus­tle and edgi­ness of its lo­cal ge­og­ra­phy is in­sep­a­ra­ble from the en­ergy and in­flu­ences of a so­cial me­dia cos­mos – the dig­i­tal street – that col­lapses bound­aries and ag­gre­gates the im­pulses of the like-minded from the minute they get up in the morn­ing.

Luke Do­man and Kalo Canterbury are the face of cor­ner store, for whom what they wear and how they talk about it ex­presses a com­plex iden­tity that has as much to do with their home-town world, lo­cal his­to­ries of cor­ner café video games, elec­tronic mu­sic and skate­board­ing, or in­deed the long, now em­bat­tled, tex­tile in­dus­tri­al­ism of Wood­stock and Salt River, as the world­li­ness of street style in Seoul, Man­hat­tan or Tokyo.

The ven­ture at 103 Sir Lowry Road – it’s on the cor­ner with Lewin Street – is an un­likely seem­ing tra­jec­tory for a pair whose univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion spans phi­los­o­phy and English (Do­man) and en­vi­ron­men­tal and ge­o­graph­i­cal sciences, and film and me­dia (Canterbury).

But, then, rein­ven­tion – over­turn­ing or­tho­dox­ies and test­ing con­ven­tions, or, in­deed, re­viv­ing on a mi­cro-scale the tex­tile crafts which, at an in­dus­try level, have been ham­mered by cut- price im­por­ta­tion – is part and par­cel of the street scene and a scale of val­ues which em­pha­sise youth­ful in­de­pen­dence, a touch of ir­rev­er­ence, a will­ing­ness to be dif­fer­ent or dis­tinc­tive and to rel­ish these things with­out hav­ing to of­fer high-minded jus­ti­fi­ca­tions.

And, in the case of cor­ner shop, the em­bod­i­ment of this ex­u­ber­ant spirit is the com­bined cre­ative ef­forts of three brands, 2BOP (a stylised form of “two bob”, the sec­ond – older, im­pe­rial – word pro­nounced with a dis­tinc­tive Afrikaner­ised elon­ga­tion as “borp”), Young and Lazy and Sol­Sol Menswear, which are ac­knowl­edged as South Africa’s lead­ing streetwear brands and are ev­i­dently poised for sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­na­tional brand col­lab­o­ra­tions.

Each of them has a his­tory whose de­tails re­flect el­e­ments of the street cul­ture.

2BOP draws its in­spi­ra­tion from the video game cul­ture of cafes, the name a play on the 20c kids would pay to play. It was founded a decade ago by An­thony Smith and Bradley Abra­hams, men now in their for­ties whom Do­man calls “OGs… orig­i­nal gang­sters”, de­sign­ers who “made it seem pos­si­ble to do a street brand in South Africa”. The pair started out sell­ing clothes from the boot of

The last, Sol-Sol Menswear, is driven by Dur­ban­ite Mathew Kieser (he and his wife have since moved to the Cape) and was in­spired by a street-style blog set up by his brother Jared in Seoul, Korea.

Canterbury notes that Kieser’s “well-con­structed, min­i­mal-style” range made the de­signer the first South Africa to be fea­tured in Hype­beast mag­a­zine… “which is re­ally big for any­one in­ter­ested in street fash­ion”.

In just two years, Sol- Sol clothes are sell­ing over­seas, too – from Hong Kong to the US – and, Do­man said, have reached a mar­ket in Cape Town that ranges from “young kids to older peo­ple”, skaters to young pro­fes­sion­als.

Kieser, Petersen and Smith are co-di­rec­tors of cor­ner store.

Do­man and Canterbury – both serve as op­er­a­tions and mar­ket­ing man­agers at the store and so­cial me­dia man­agers at 2BOP, while, in ad­di­tion, Do­man is pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant and mar­ket­ing man­ager for Young and Lazy – came into the pic­ture as young­sters with new ideas about putting the three brands on the on­line map in a big­ger way, and turn­ing the store into a streetwear flag­ship.

Hav­ing met at UCT – and bonded on the strength of a shared in­ter­est in street cul­ture and the dress- con­scious­ness that went with it – they both worked at the shop that used to oc­cupy 103 Sir Lowry Road. Smith and Abra­hams Gen­eral Deal­ers and Out­fit­ters was it­self an ear­lier project of 2BOP’s founder An­thony Smith – to­day a co-di­rec­tor of cor­ner store – and his 2BOP cre­ative di­rec­tor Bradley Abra­hams.

When the busi­ness changed and the space be­came avail­able for a new ven­ture, Canterbury and Do­man were able to of­fer their so­cial me­dia and mar­ket­ing skills to gen­er­ate a buzz fo­cused solely on 2BOP, Young and Lazy and Sol­Sol. (Their mer­chan­dise had been on the rails at Smith and Abra­hams, but with a range of other brands.)

There isn’t the pedes­trian traf­fic typ­i­cal of a Long or Loop street out­let, but Wood­stock blends its old, edgy self with a hip el­e­ment that comes with its re­gen­er­a­tion, and new ten­ants, from art gal­leries and cof­fee shops to de­signer of­fices and ad agen­cies.

And cor­ner store – show­room down­stairs, war­ren of ac­tiv­ity up­stairs – com­bines the shop it­self on the street level, de­lib­er­ately mod­elled as a gallery space echo­ing, for in­stance, the Michael Steven­son gallery across the road, and the cut, make and trim work­shop above, as well as stu­dio spa­ces for a range of other “cre­atives”.

The store brands’ rep­u­ta­tion has made them a first choice for rap­pers and other mu­si­cians who rou­tinely put in or­ders for spe­cially de­signed caps or other kit.

Do­man points out that more than 80 per­cent of the cloth­ing on sale is made up­stairs, all fab­rics are sourced lo­cally, and print­ing and la­belling are done in the neigh­bour­hood. “With a lot of pieces, ev­ery­thing from the ini­tial idea to ac­tual pro­duc­tion and mar­ket­ing is done right here.”

The lim­ited – col­lectable – runs add ca­chet to the clothes among those who covet an as­so­ci­a­tion with au­then­tic street style rather than the mass-pro­duced knock-offs of larger firms. There’s the added thrill for shop­pers of walk­ing in and hav­ing a chat with the de­sign­ers them­selves.

“That’s a big value-add,” Do­man says. “Peo­ple, kids es­pe­cially, want to meet them and be like them.”

The iden­tity as­pect is a core value, Canterbury says.

“Get­ting dressed, putting to­gether an out­fit, ex­presses how you feel, or is a way of try­ing to em­u­late some­thing. It makes you feel in­vin­ci­ble. And you share that with oth­ers who fol­low the brands… it’s an as­so­ci­a­tion, you can have a con­ver­sa­tion.

“And what’s be­gin­ning to hap­pen is that where cer­tain peo­ple are 2BOP or Young and Lazy or Sol­Sol peo­ple… ev­ery­body who comes is a cor­ner store per­son. We’re an orig­i­nal place, it’s got a story, it’s got in­flu­ence.”

PIC­TURES: LEON LESTRADE

STREET CRED: Kalo Canterbury and Luke Do­man are help­ing to put Wood­stock’s cor­ner store on the map.

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