The Sartists recall township culture


The 90’s child will fondly remember collecting patches illustrating their favourite cartoon characters or statement. Sewing them on made for hours of DIY fun customising and breathing renewed life into your favourite clothing item.

Top international designers like Gucci, Miu Miu and Marc Jacobs have included patches in their latest collections and they’re catching on.

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Pic: Supplied (The Sartists)Pic: SuppliedPic: Supplied

Here at home, Levi’s South Africa has collaborated with the progressive creative collective, The Sartists to explore distinctively South African identities and culture by creating seven unique patches.

The faces and storytellers behind the Jozi-based collective are Andile Buka, Kabelo Kungwane, Wanda Lephoto and Xzavier Zulu. All are like-minded youths on a mission to challenge ideas in society and take a documentary approach to style and identity.

Pic: Supplied

“Throughout the years, we’ve shared our own individual love of the Levi’s brand whether it was Xzavier customising denim on his bedroom floor years ago, or Kabelo and I thrifting our now 250 plus collection, in the streets of Johannesburg,” says Zulu.

“It was a dream come true to share our stories through a brand that has a growing voice in our communities and one that we love.”

The patches were inspired by South African township culture, signage and vernacular art, the Sartists explain.

“We’ve always acknowledged the exploitation of our history, cultures and traditions and this inspires us to represent our people and take our culture forward by addressing the issues that rid us of our individuality.”

In addition to the patches The Sartists created a localised Look book that was hugely inspired by the famous Spike Lee movie School Daze as well as famous 1990s sitcom couples such as Urkle and Laura from Family Matters.

“A story on love and young love was at the centre of this conversation,” says the Sartists.

Pic: Supplied

Q&A with the young creatives

What is the story behind who you guys are and what brought you all together? 

Xzavier Zulu: I’m a 25 year old art director by trade and visual communicator by love who’s from the Zulu tribe and currently residing in “Little Europe” – Cape Town. I’m really trying to continue the journey of those before me. Fulfill the dreams I had and worked towards when I was younger, tears running down my face, trying to customise denim on my bedroom floor while listening to the “Out My Mind” version of Pharrell’s You Can Do It To. That single song raised me to who I am today. That one song. Those are the times when I realised my purpose. Who I needed to be for my time. For people who looked like me and shared a passion beyond their immediate environment.

Wanda and I had been following each other on Tumblr for some time. Realising we shared similar interests in art, music and culture. We would direct message each other to meet up, meet the rest of the guys and we’ve been friends since. The guys really opened my eyes to thrifting.

Wanda Lephoto: I think we all grew up with different backgrounds but the need to reflect our times and to highlight often neglected stories of our country and even our continent is something that gives our creative edge. The need not to forget where we’re from but celebrate it. We’re born in an era where those who have paved the way are often neglected and under-celebrated and that is our main source of inspiration that informs who we are and what we’d like to do.

As a collective, what is the creative process when starting a new project?

Xzavier: I’ve never said this aloud but one of the key things I learnt in college is how to put together one fire cohesive presentation. That coupled with my vision and the odd premonition/dream of creative executions and talking in my sleep allows me to take all of that and discuss it with my brothers – who all know something I don’t, and we come together to get to a greater idea, narrative and execution. So basically, I lay the foundation, the structure where we could very well go with various ideas and we take it from there.

Kabelo and Wanda: Essentially our roles within the collective is to build and create alongside the foundations built by Xzavier to come up with ideas and to execute them by providing direction for them and collaborating in order to create an environment where we learn from each other and grow in order to ensure sustainability not only within the collective but for the culture and growth of our industry.

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