Local streetwear brands redefine coloured culture
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Local brands like Vannie Kaap, Kulrd Streetwear and Kim K Apparel have brought about a new wave of streetwear fashion that embraces coloured culture.
While the trend has encouraged people to be proud of and embracing their coloured identity, it has also grown into lucrative businesses and created jobs.
Chezlin Albrecht, 27, is a hydraulics engineer from Kensington who started customising sneakers and denim jackets as a side business in 2018. In late 2019, he also released his brand of merchandise called Kulrd Streetwear that celebrates and embraces coloured culture.
Albrecht, who is self-taught, said that he was inspired by the diversity of the coloured community to start his business.
“I named it that because I believe that I am adding our coloured attitude and coloured flavour to everything that I do.”
“We’ve got rich people and poor people, and regardless of that, everyone always wants to stand out. Creating items that stand out is what inspires me.”
Growing up, he remembers his mom not having money to buy him fancy clothes and shoes.
“We wore the same size shoe at a time, and I recall her giving me an old pair of Vince Carter Nike sneakers that she owned,” he said.
He added: “It was here that I realised that I wanted to be able to create something as unique as that shoe.”
Albrecht said he believed the surge in embracing coloured identity was rooted in coloured people realising just how unique they are.
“You won’t find people like us anywhere else in the world. Right now, we are realising that we can put ourselves out there, be acknowledged and get paid for it.”
Sharnick Khan is the co-founder of Kim K Apparel in Southfield and has been manufacturing clothing since 2015 with his fiancé, Kim Davidson.
Their brand celebrates coloured people. Additionally, Kim K apparel manufactures and supplies branded apparel for companies like Yoco.
Khan was influenced by his dressmaker mother, who had worked in clothing manufacturing her whole life.
“Growing up, clothing was a big part of my culture, and I loved dressing up, but I never thought I’d go into clothing as well.
He added: “When I decided to start Kim K apparel, I did my research, and I realised that we lack locally produced products that are of great quality and still affordable.”
Khan said he believed there was power in embracing coloured identity and making a livelihood out of it.
“We’ve got the skill. We’ve got what it takes to dominate. We are a different breed. Coloured people just bring something different to the table,” he said.
Kim K apparel started in a garage and now has a fully operational factory in Southfield, run by a team of nine people.
Vannie Kaap founder Bernie Fabing has built the brand over the last few years.
“As coloured people, we have constantly been fed the negative narrative of prisoners, gangsterism, drugs and poverty that brings about shame,” he said.
Fabing added: “There are so many things we can be proud of within our culture, that turns that shame into pride. Our history is our power, and nothing can take that away from us.”