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Been there, said that, bought the T-shirt

Fashion
No matter your cultural background, there are certain sayings that South Africans relate to. South Africans are also fortunate to interact with different cultures every day. 
When you see a T-shirt with the slogan “RELEKS”, most of us know what it means. It doesn’t matter what your mother tongue is, you know the word means relax, chill or “Don’t worry be happy”. Catherine Raphaely and Mary-Anne Grobler are the women behind the Mevrou & Co brand.

OUT OF IT: The 'Deurmekaar' T-shirt is from the Die Basie range.
Even though Raphaely is English speaking she has a connection with Afrikaners.
“I think it’s because I am Jewish as there is always some sort of connection between these two tribes. Probably, their shared love of family, food and dark humour,” says Raphaely.
“I always thought that the words ‘Sê Dankie Vir Die Tannie’ would make such a perfect T-shirt as it’s the foundation of all things mental and emotional where Afrikaners are concerned”.
“The people in Vermaaklikheid (on the Garden Route) where I go for holidays always call me Mevrou, which my friends found hilarious.
"One night, after a glass of red wine, I came up with the idea to start a company called Mevrou & Co that would make slogans with Afrikaans sayings on them.”
Which is exactly what she did. Now her “Sê Dankie Vir Die Tannie” T-shirt has become one of its most popular. 

Luke Antoni, sweetheart and future girl crush, wears SÊ DANKIE VIR DIE TANNIE. #mevrouandco

A post shared by M E V R O U & C O . (@mevrouandco) on

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NICE: The 'Lekker by die See' tee is popular. Pictures: AFI GalleryYES YOU CAN: 'Can’t Even' is part of the Jew Crew collection. Pictures AFI GalleryOUT OF IT: The 'Deurmekaar' T-shirt is from the Die Basie range.OMG: 'Oi-vey' is a popular Jewish saying.

How does she come up with the words? “The ideas just seem to land on my head like crazy butterflies. But for them to work they have to be funny, witty, clever and resonant.
“The idea is for everyone in South Africa to enjoy each other’s otherness so even they have to translate for people who don’t speak that particular language or come from that tribe.
“The company started before the whole cultural appropriation issue unfolded.

"However, I feel that the rage with regard to cultural appropriation stems from lack of respect whereas we are celebrating South African culture so we, thankfully, don’t seem to have encountered any negativity on that front,” says Raphaely.
“Afrikaans is almost unbeatable when it comes to expressing any state of mind.”

The slogans are specifically chosen because there is a good chance South Africans will understand and relate to them. There has been a positive response, even with foreigners.
“The response has been surprising – it seems they really want and enjoy something local.
"‘The Lekker By Die See’ tee works well for Germans and Dutch as it’s got words from both of those country’s languages.
“Also, the Dutch think it’s hilarious and fitting that ‘Moeilikheid’ is spelt wrong in their language,” she says.

Each collection relates to a specific cultural group. The “Jew Crew” range is a collection of tees with popular Jewish expressions such as “Oi-vey”, “Have you ever” and “Mazeltov”, whereas the “Die Basie” collection relates to Afrikaners with slogans such as “Deurmekaar”, “Moeilikheid” and “Luuks”.

Besides the clever one-liners and expressive words, the design, typography and white T-shirt adds to the appeal of the tees.
Placing words on a T-shirt sounds easy, but choosing the the right font andlayout can easily ruin a good idea.
Thankfully, Grobler is a graphic designer. Which means a professional is in charge and that’s evident in the designs.
Each collection has its own font.
Their latest, and soon to be launched, collection uses a font designed by Vukile Batayi as it’s an IsiZulu/IsiXhosa series.
The Jew Crew ones are deep navy velvet flock transfer and the IsiZulu/IsiXhosa ones will be embroidered.
“The single cotton jersey fabric is made in Bellville and the tees are made in Maitland,” says Raphaely.

They tees were recently spotted on the runway at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Cape Town as part of the “Fashion Revolution” show.
“We collaborated with several designers including 2Bop (Clothing), Sealand (Upcycle sails and other plastics into bags), Ballo (Sunglasses), Espadril (Shoes), Maria McCloy (Shoes) and Matter of Fakt (Jewellery). Most of us have stores within a store at the Bo-Op collective but, in the case of 2Bop, Espadril and Maria McCloy – we love their products and style so we approached them as we needed to pair our tees with relaxed, stylish, South African street fashion brands. Being part of the Fashion Revolution Show, it was also important that the people with whom we collaborated uphold the good and fair business values that The Fashion Revolution is seeking to encourage and develop” says Raphaely about their show.

Mevrou & Co t-shirst can be purchased from their shop at The Bo-Op Collective, 102 Wale Street,  Bokaap as well as online www.mevrouandco.com. Or find them at The Biscuit Mill every Saturday or, at various markets such as Kamers Vol Geskenke.

OMG: 'Oi-vey' is a popular Jewish saying.

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