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Photography by Chris Saunders

South Africa Special: The Smarteez

Dazed heads into downtown Jo’burg with four DIY designers from Soweto

For Dazed June’s South Africa special, I spent an afternoon in downtown Johannesburg with four young designers from Soweto, a DIY fashion “crew” called the Smarteez. Kepi, Sibu. Floyd and Thabo took me to some of the fabric shops and clothes stores where they source the raw materials they adapt and combine into their vibrant, outlandish creations. Walking through the city, they explained how they feel their generation differs from the preceding one. Too young to really remember the struggle for apartheid, they’re less politicised and claim that their “struggle” is now one against blandness and conformity – to them, it’s all about partying, self-expression and challenging stereotypes. As Sibu, the guy in the red cape, put it: “I was born into the free world. And some people accuse me of taking my freedom for granted. But to that I say fuck you! It’s my freedom to take for granted.” You can read the whole story in the new issue, but here are a few extra shots, some behind-the-scenes pictures, and a short film by photographer Chris Saunders and myself.
The June issue of Dazed with Crystal Castles and the South Africa special is on sale now. Track is “Ayobaness” by Pastor Mbhobo, from the Ayobaness compilation on Outthere Records