It’s a midweek afternoon and I meet up with an old friend in Dobsonville, Soweto. We used to go to hip-hop shows together. Now Trevor ‘Paranoia’ Macupe is a black man who pounds out white music. He’s a member of a black metal band, from Soweto, the urban township to the south of Johannesburg; his music is kicking down barriers.
Black metal is fast, with high-pitched piercing vocals and distorted guitars. It grabs you by the gut. The artists often appear on stage with painted faces, looking like corpses; a dark look for black metal.
The members of this metal band have taken the aggressive guitar music from the northern hemisphere and made it their own.
The five musicians met through skateboarding and hip-hop and now they spill black metal into the African night.
Macupe is the guitarist; Thapelo ‘Bellicose’ Mokoena, the bassist; Modiba ‘Belgaroth’ Rabothata, the drummer; Siyabonga ‘Thronum’ Mngadi is the other guitarist. Dreadlocked Sthembiso ‘Tyrant’ Kunene, the vocalist, lives up to his name on stage. They are known as Demogoroth Satanum and they are the first all-black, black metal band to come out of South Africa. They have been playing together since 2012.
The band’s technical skills have earned them fans in faraway places like Botswana and Germany. They didn’t have money, nor equipment, nor resources, to go to music school but they practised hard and taught themselves to rock hard.
“Upon discovering it, we didn’t understand it; we dived into it and upon exploring it we found the sound that we are known for today,” says Mngadi.
They acquired the taste while skateboarding and playing video games, with rock ‘n’ roll and punk music playing in the background.
The band usually meet at Mngadi’s room, in Zola, Soweto, sometimes to listen to what they have produced or to write songs before they head out to a community center to rehearse. Passers-by are stunned when they hear metal churning out in a place where township music is the beat of the streets.
“Not just our families, but the whole black community had a very negative view on what we’re doing because it’s not in the Sowetan comfort zone. They would say it’s witchcraft or Satanism with the corpse paint and the loud music and screaming,” says Kunene.
Kunene says that the younger generation accuse them of playing “white-boy music” and say they are trying to be white people. The older generation just say it’s witchcraft.
Mokoena had a bad experience while sitting on a train bound for Johannesburg. He was wearing a black metal t-shirt with dark imagery and there was a gentleman sitting in front of him and staring.
“He eventually had the courage to say something. The first thing he said was that I am ‘evil and Illuminati, you’re the one poisoning our children’. He attacked me and didn’t get to know my name. I let him vent because it was a scary situation because of mob justice. If half the train thinks he’s right, I would have got my ass kicked for wearing a metal t-shirt. I didn’t want to engage him in case I incite a violent situation,” he says.
On August 4, the band was in a safer place. The gig was in Pretoria, the capital city of South Africa, about a 91-kilometer drive from Soweto – in cultural terms, it could have been on Mars – at a pub called Arcade Empire peopled by whites. On the night, the only black people there were the members of the bands, the waiters and myself. Nothing unusual for Demogoroth Satanum.
Four bands are playing on the night; Demogoroth Satanum is the only one playing black metal. An ear splitting kerrang from the lead guitar announces them on stage with a swagger.
“This song is made out to two girls who tried to make it to hell but, unfortunately, they made it to heaven,” says Kunene before one of their numbers.
The audience cheers and the mosh pit – an area on the dancefloor where fans jump into each other as the aggressive music plays – comes to life more and more with every song. Before the song had finished I had to be careful with the camera; it was raining beer as the crowd jumped with bottles in their hands.
“As the mosh pit is happening and the crowd is going crazy, I know we’re doing the right thing,” says Kunene.
The last song ends and the lights go up. It was like the calm after the storm. The guys had just performed yet another show for free and didn’t mind because they love the music.
The band wants to play more international shows, especially in Europe, where metal is popular.
Demogoroth Satanum sustain themselves with day jobs. Mngadi works as a retention agent, Kunene trades online, Rabothatha recently left his job as call center agent to focus on the music, and Macupe freelances shooting and directing videos. When he is not playing the bass, Mokoena does street cleaning and sweeps bus stops.
“Metal is not one of those genres you’d get into for the money, because you going be sorely disappointed. Trust me, you’re not going to make money for free, not in this country,” says Macupe.
Just as well. With all the negative commentary from the township and stereotypes about the genre, the boys have turned their most unlikely fans; their families, into their greatest supporters. Their long-term aim is to get more black people into the mosh pit.
Conscious Fashion: ‘So Much More You Can Do With Discarded Clothes’
Fashion is about creating beauty, but its ugly side is the carbon emissions. Designers are now looking to play it safe, even if it means going to dangerous lengths for the sake of greener fashion.
In South Africa, the fashion industry is now starting to do its bit to negate the effects of climate change, with some designers going green, in interesting, creative and even lucrative ways.
Ayanda Nhlapo, a stylist and entrepreneur, is one of them.
She hosted and co-produced her own TV fashion show, Ayanda’s Fashion House, where she explored the work of some of South Africa’s most prolific designers and creatives in the fashion industry. The fashion aesthete says the influence of the industry is far-reaching, and therefore, must be more responsible about the environment and preservation of resources.
“I’ve always had a knack for creating, whether I’m creating from scratch or recreating something that already exists,” says Nhlapo. So, upcycling, or repurposing, is what she is into.
“However, recreating or upcycling has always given me much more excitement and a deeper sense of purpose.
“Upcycling can be challenging but rewarding in the sense that it’s not just about the creativity but it’s more so about contributing to solving the effects of fast fashion on the environment and the economy. It is very important that we preserve our culture, identity and resources,” she says.
Fascinated about culture as well as traditional wear, some of her design ideas are fairly unconventional, such as Zulu sandals made of tyres. Besides clothes, she also designs accessories, such as earrings and key-holders. One of her designs is earrings shaped like water droplets to highlight the importance of saving water, whilst also bringing forth the beauty and importance of recycling and upcycling.
Her market is largely young women, but the brand is also for those who love and consume fashion consciously. Nhlapo uses fashion as a tool to influence people and encourage them to think carefully about how they use it.
“Fortunately, through traditional media and social media, I am able to reach thousands and thousands of people, not just in South Africa but across the world. If we consume fashion correctly and consciously, we have the power to reverse certain cycles and change the direction of our future,” says Nhlapo.
She goes on to say that the fashion industry is among the highest polluters in the world, however, thankfully, it is gradually moving towards a more responsible way of operating.
“In fact, green fashion is the next big thing. Designers and consumers are finally becoming more and more aware of the damages and negative, rippling effects of fashion and are now beginning to take such issues seriously. We are starting to see more sustainable fabrics on the runway and more eco-friendly brands launching into the market, while well-established brands are also moving in the direction of going green. Before we know it, green fashion will be the only thing we know.”
South African designer JJ Schoeman elaborates on ‘fast fashion’ and ‘green fashion’.
“I think we need to still go on a robust campaign on the implications of fast fashion, where we create more awareness around its consumption, as I feel that most consumers are still a little blasé about their purchase.
“There was a call for green fashion, because of the wasteful nature of production lines within our industry. This call was made to encourage designers like myself to use environmentally-friendly fabrics and methods in the production line.”
One of the ways he implements this in his production line is to cut material in a way there is less wastage.
“Over and above this, I also found ways in which to ‘get rid’ of the waste we accumulated over a season – these included donating to the trade, for reuse. I also try my absolute best to use fabrics that are more environment-friendly, but of course, I always need to take into consideration what the client wants.”
Schoeman opines the green fashion trend is growing.
“Absolutely, if we just take into consideration the amount of international names that have agreed to not using real fur in their collections. Recently, I read about the #G7Biarritz movement, which saw the Prada Group, Ralph Lauren and 30 other fashion industry brands sign the pact. The Fashion Pact is going to change the game in sustainable fashion all over the world.”
Yet another trend is ‘thrifting fashion’ that has become the cornerstone of shopping trends popular among the youth.
Vathiswa Yiba is an employee at a vintage thrift store in the lively Braamfontein area of Johannesburg. She has immersed herself in the culture of thrifting.
The store is one of several thrift stores in the city, and among the popular ones at the thrift market not far from Africa’s largest railway station, the Johannesburg Park Station.
“Thrifting is buying clothes that people think are not good enough anymore and those that they have discarded,” says 22-year-old Yiba.
“It’s interesting with thrifting because the most dangerous places are where you find the nicer things”– Vathiswa Yiba
The lower prices also offer financial reprieve and more options for the buyer.
Yiba has been thrifting since her high school days when she started with her own clothes.
“I don’t step into retail stores unless I am buying shoes,” she says.
“My first thrift was buying from people who sold from their bags, then from their car boots, then I leveled up and started going to the biggest market in the Johannesburg Central Business District; MTN Taxi Rank, known for its pavement crimes, despite the danger in that part of town, they have the best clothes.”
The street-savvy Yiba offers advice to those who are novices in the industry.
“It’s interesting with thrifting because the most dangerous places are where you find the nicer things, and here is a tip when you are going thrifting – make sure you have loose change and put it in safe pockets, away from pick-pocketers. That way you will be able to shop safely. However, you can find good-looking items but it’s not in your size; which is where the community comes in.
“We have tailors to alter the garments for you and it will be exclusive because it’s thrifted, no one has the same clothes. There is so much more you can do with discarded clothes. With the littlest things, you can make an amazing thing and you’ll be the only one who has it.”
Of course, there is a tinge of stigma associated with thrifting. Yiba says people think the clothes could also have belonged to those who have passed away, but she’s of the view that thrifting creates other opportunities.
“The [thrift clothing] may look messy and seem dusty, but once cleaned or altered, they will look retail. So it’s not just the connotations, it can be something perfect and the next person wouldn’t even know.”
These are sentiments also echoed by Leago Nhlapo, a content creator for fashion brands like Adidas, Sportscene and Skechers, who began his journey as thrifter.
“It started with thrifting because it makes you unique; there is no similar garment, every single garment is different from the next. So, I jumped from really cheap clothes [recycled clothes] to really expensive clothes,” he says.
However, Leago encourages green fashion because he says the fast fashion industry is the second-highest contributor to carbon emissions.
“The more people buy clothes, the more we contribute to global warming and we all know the global crisis, so if we recycle clothes, there will not be a need to make clothes, there are enough clothes for everyone existing. I am proof that second-hand clothes are cool and look better than people paying tons of cash.”
Seventy kilometers south of Johannesburg’s Central Business District is Nokwakha Qobo, who was born in the squatter camps of Phuma Zibethane in Sharpeville. And in the garbage dumps of these camps, the fashion designer in her emerged.
Qobo currently has a clothing line with an international reach. She fashions garments out of wastepaper she collects from rubbish dumps.
“I’m a self-taught designer from a dump in Vanderbijlpark, that’s where I learned everything– Nokwakha Qobo
As a young girl, Qobo had to walk to school, and through the course of her journey home, she would pass a garbage site where old fashion magazines and newspapers were discarded.
It is often said that ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. This adage was not lost on her because she took inspiration from the articles in those magazines and now creates pieces that are sought after.
“That’s where I learned about fashion trends, that’s where I learned about different colors for different seasons, that’s where I learned about the body structure of a woman, actually, I’m a self-taught designer from a dump in Vanderbijlpark, that’s where I learned everything,” she says.
Inadvertently, she too is contributing towards a shift in culture based on conscious consumption.
Perhaps, with the benefit of time, green fashion will be the norm as many believe we already have all we need.
– Motlabana Monnakgotla
HUGO BOSS Partners With Porsche To Bring Action-Packed Racing Experience Through Formula E
Brought to you by Hugo Boss
HUGO BOSS and Porsche have partnered to bring an action-packed racing experience to the streets of the world’s major cities through Formula E.
Formula E is known for its fascinating races globally. The partnership will have a strong focus on the future of motorsport. In doing so the races will host a unique series for the development of electric vehicle technology, refining the design, functionality and sustainability of electric cars while creating an exciting global entertainment brand.
HUGO BOSS which boasts a long tradition of motorsports sponsorship – has been successfully engaged in the electric-powered racing series since the end of 2017.
In this collaboration, HUGO BOSS brings its 35 years of experience and expertise in the motorsport arena to Formula E, as well as the dynamic style the fashion brand is renowned for.
Mark Langer HUGO BOSS, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) says that though they have been working successfully with motorsports over the years, he is exceptionally pleased that as a fashion brand they are taking the cooperation to new heights.
“As a fashion brand, we are always looking at innovative approaches to design and sustainability. When we first encountered Formula E, we immediately saw its potential and we are pleased to be the first apparel partner to support this exciting new motorsport series,” he says.
The fashion group is also the official outfitter to the entire Porsche motorsports team worldwide.
The fascination with perfect design and innovation, along with the Porshe and Hugo Boss shared passion for racing, inspired Hugo Boss to produce the Porsche x Boss capsule collection.
Its standout features include premium leather and wool materials presented in the Porsche and HUGO BOSS colors of silver, black and red.
Since March, a range of menswear styles from the debut capsule collection is available online and at selected BOSS stores. In South Africa the first pieces of the capsule will come as a part of the FW 19 collection.
Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Formula E says he is confident that the racers will put their best foot forward on the racecourse.
“This new partnership will see the team on the ground at each race dressed with a winning mindset and ready to deliver a spectacular event in cities across the world. As the first Official Apparel Partner of the series, we look forward to seeing the dynamic style and innovation on show that BOSS is renowned for,” says Agag.
Oliver Blume CEO of Porsche AG says Formula E is an exceptionally attractive racing series for motorsport vehicles to develop.
“It offers us the perfect environment to strategically evolve our vehicles in terms of efficiency and sustainability. We’re looking forward to being on board in the 2019/2020 season. In this context, the renowned fashion group HUGO BOSS represents the perfect partner to outfit our team.”
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