Articles,  Fashion

South Africa’s Fashion Scenery

South Africa much like the rest of Africa is more than beads, prints, and animal textiles when it comes to fashion. 

Together with Switchkottin we look into these fresh styles

A person that has never been to Africa may think we are still walking around in cow skin outfits and straw hats, despite the many years post being colonized and exposed to western culture. We as South African fashion consumers and designers still have some work to do when it comes to educating the world about the fashion style that South Africans boast and bring to life.

Influenced by European fashion and various subcultures, South Africans have most definitely come up with their own very identifiable fashion styles and stories that the world has to see. Of course, there is still lots of pride taken in cultural/ traditional wear to embrace each one’s heritage, but we have fast become identifiable with style specified by the cities we’re from or inspired by.

Personally, what I pack in my bag does depend on which city I am visiting within SA because certain styles are understood mostly in the city that style originates from.


The melting pot of cultural diversity and vibrant fashion flairs spotted in their aesthetically pleasing streets and social spots. Jozi has got to be SA’s most misestimated cities, like an acquired taste, some people need to give it a try to recognize its beauty and influence. 

Take for example Kwaito music, a genre that emerged in Johannesburg that gave birth to a very unique streetwear style mostly worn by the pantsula dancers. These dancers took American workwear and created a whole culture and fashion style that SA can fully take ownership of.  A look easily comprising Dickies formal pants, a checkered collared shirt, converse sneakers, and a bucket hat, and pantsula groups would give this base look a twist as per the region they are representing.  The pantsula look has proven to be timeless and keeps on emerging with different styles as the years go by. 

Then we have the “Braam Kids” fashion, one of the underdogs of bold style in our country, are often first misunderstood and then embraced when their style is worn by popular people. The fashion style here is constructed with specific thrift items, colourful short-sleeved shirts tucked into loose vintage and lightly tailored trousers belted and folded into 3 quarter lengths, daddy sneakers, and a pair of small lensed vintage shades. You probably thought we were done, hair is the fashion here too, a “fade haircut” isn’t left at its simplicity, the twist is in growing messy locks and dying one purple if not braiding it down with a colourful piece of wool and locking it with a bead. 

High-end fashion also has dominance in Johannesburg, the ladies and gents of class definitely hold it down when it comes to elegant glam. In certain sophisticated areas of Joburg, there is a need to dress this particular way, it’s no pressure but the ambiance just calls for very specifically tailored looks. 

While we are here, check out 3 of some of Jozi’s brands we are watching out for: 

Bathini Designs

Instagram: @bathinidesigns

Moraka Interiors

Instagram: @morakainteriors


Instagram: @ezokhetho

Cape Town

Our Mother City, which is full of class, a bouquet of brands that are extraordinary and unique expressionists, has given birth to outstanding fashion styles seen in and around their streets. Cultural diversity makes the style in the Cape very distinct and unique. With trendy beachfront cafés, classy bars, beautiful beaches, and a subtropical climate, Cape Town does call for extensive fashion styles. 

The street fashion landscape there is inspired by subcultures that can be linked to hip-hop and skateboarding traditions. Some of the best t-shirt brands are birthed in Cape Town and have a lot of influence on streetwear, not just in Cape Town, but South Africa as a whole. There is a most definitely a “Thing” when it comes to conveying messages through t-shirts in SA and it works. Whether to unite, to teach, or just boast we find a lot of looks featuring t-shirts emblazoned with big words that command one’s attention.

Cape Town gets very cold and even when the weather is 0 degrees the style stays on 100. Layering clothing may sound simple, but making it a statement is an art that Capetonians keep mastering. Take the brand “Focus Raincoats” that produces trendy bold-colored raincoats that are wearable as statement staple pieces that allow one to be warm, dry, and still look fashionable. 

While we are here, check out 3 of some of Cape Town brands we are watching out for: 

By Ele Apparel & Interiors

Instagram: @byele_lifestyle


Instagram: @imprint-za


Instagram: @shweshwekini


Durban fashion is very hard to box it into one category simply due to how lively and laid back the city itself is. Durban is better known as a leisure destination, less serious, warm in character, and in ambiance and climate – even their winters are warm.

Various styles co-exist in Durban and each style has its own stance and boldness, the style in Durban is culture-based and boasts a lot of trendsetting and individuality – Think ‘Versatility’.

The first is the Glamor Clan; the name is by no means malicious however if you take a closer look you will see that this gender-neutral dress style expresses a timeless vibe of perfectly tailored garments. Their style is classic, luxurious, and in some cases “blingy”, they are mostly socialites and when it comes to live events like the Durban July, they show up and show off.

Next, we have the Vintage Clan, the cool kids that make you think of shows like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, and if you have in the past attended events like ‘Coolout Vintage’ or ‘GoodSundae’, you will have an idea of why we call them “Vintage Clan”. This style comprises fashion dated as far back as the 60s all the way to the 90s, consisting of thrift items (which is a big thing in Durban) or occasional raiding of their parent’s closets. They wear heavily printed shirts with bold pops of colour, old fashion tapered denim, and hippie shades.

Last but not least we have the Streetwise Clan this would be the rule-breakers if you may call them that, anything and everything goes as long as they feel confident about it. This group is made of fashion that is grouped by dance culture, which is a big thing in Durban. We have “Crumpers” with their baggy jeans, high-top sneakers, and graphic tees, then we have kids from the location that wear tailored sets that feature pocket details and a combination of rather unique colours, sealing their look always and without a fail, a pair of Carvellas. Their style is edgy, daring and an explosion of color much similar to Babes Wodumo, it’s absolutely a beautiful sight to see.

While we are here, check out 3 of some of Durban’s we are watching out for:

Flair91 .Studios

Instagram: @flair.91

Jane Sews

Instagram: @jane_sews

House of St Luke

Instagram: @mxolisiluke 


Thandazo is a digital content creator with a focus on fashion and lifestyle. She recently completed a Content Creators Cohort Programme with Digify Africa and LiveMagSA. She has experience in the media industry and is currently working as a Digital & Content Marketing assistant at Adclick Africa. You can follow her at @mehloe on Twitter and Instagram.

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