South Africa "Mzansi Style Guide" Episode 2 - Cape Town Sneakers

A look at how sneaker culture infiltrated the South African city.

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The second most populous city after Johannesburg, Cape Town’s sneaker scene goes head-to-head with that of The City of Gold. The trend began in the ’90s after apartheid was abolished and the city started receiving an influx of foreign media. Sporting giants from Portland and Herzogenaurach flocked to the Cape, establishing themselves in the new market via the introduction of Torsions, ZXs, Air Maxes and Air Jordans. Seen as status symbols amongst the youth in the notorious Cape Flats neighborhood, these models were endorsed by a different hero from the West, as drug dealers strut through the strip in expensive foreign footwear which painted a picture of success.

While gangs and violence still run rampant, the sneaker (and legislative) capital of the country now plays host to exchange conventions and reselling events, garnering attention from across the Western Cape. The movement is rife in part thanks to a number of stores which ensure the locals are kitted with the hottest kicks. In this segment of Mzansi Style Guide, we visit Shelflife, a mainstay frequented by writers and sneakerheads. Launched by Nick Herbert, the store opened its doors originally to sell spraypaint and has since gone on to be a Tier 0 stockist, putting SA on the map with releases such as its patriotic New Balance 574 collaboration which pulls colors from the city’s trains, alongside motifs from traditional tribal artwork and the indestructible Parktown prawn cricket. We also venture to CBD, PUMA Select’s concept store where the brand’s slew of collaborations with the likes of A Bathing Ape, SWASH and Rihanna are shelved in a boutique setting. Lastly, we check out Lost Property, a sneaker den tucked away in Rheede Street Mall where a young reseller turned his pastime into a full-fledged business quenching the appetite of restless sneaker addicts. “The same kids who are spending money on the latest Yeezys are eating a $2 Gatsby sandwich on the street corner,” said founder Zaid Osman.

Enjoy episode 2 above and stay tuned as we round out our three-part series with one final destination.

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