Cream Cartel, Ama-kip-kip and the Smarteez are all very interesting youth subcultures that the Gen Y individual connects with. It is because these guys are carefree and allow themselves the freedom to express and be who they want to be.
We met up with some young designers at one of Johannesburg’s well-known restaurants, Primi Bazala, in Soweto. The appointment was set for 12:00 noon on Sunday but these guys are fashionably late. They arrive dressed in very extroverted outfits and outrageous hairstyles. The one guy reminds us of Kanye West and we make mention of this to him.
“No, you mean Kanye West looks like me. We set the trends that other personalities follow. We are the trend and not the other way around.”
This quickly sets the tone of the afternoon as this very outspoken group each interchange and exchange the views of the youth generation. The young men tell us that they are known as Smarteez and they are trendsetters that many magazines and reality shows are lining up to interview and pay for their originality and uniqueness.
These boys are the “God Fathers” of an urban youth movement – The Smarteez. Sibu, who you would easily notice from a mile off, speaks to us in his purple top, plastic purple chain, eccentric hairstyle and don’t forget, the cork protruding out of his Zulu pierced ear hole. Sibu is definitely the loudest – in all senses- of the four boys that we spoke to.
“We were the first guys to wear skinny jeans, floral shirts and bow ties. And now the world has followed suit. The world has become so boring and everyone copy cats and steals everything that is fresh and authentic. Nothing is original anymore. I am looking for fresh ideas and new ways of doing things.” says Sibu.
Like him the other guys in the group agree that in a world that is saturated with unoriginality and uncreativity there is so much room for imagination and freedom but everyone is trying to conform and blend in.
Maybe that’s why they have decided to dress funny and look weird, but they do not seem to care. They say they are not looking for social acceptance, but freedom of self-expression. It’s quite a simple answer, fashion is passion. They take their looks and styles from none other than the streets of Soweto where colour and vibrancy can be seen in every nook and cranny, but these guys have taken it to the next level, with an outcome of a new and interesting look.
‘We are not about the way we dress but we are about a different mindset. If people would just get out of their boxes then they would see that the conformity adds no originality and creativity to a world that needs solutions. We are not scared of taking the road less traveled so we can truly be original. When people call us abnormal, we love it because it means they are not seeing the bigger picture, our job is to translate the picture we see.”
These guys are not scared of their destiny. They are looking for originality, and like Richard Branson, they say that they understand that in order to be truly respected, you have to be called crazy first. Perhaps we would never dress like they do, but one can truly respect the way they think about the world and themselves.
They understand that they are born to create the world they live in; their hope is that everyone would think like they did, and then they would be free to be all they can be.
Having spent time with them, one would have to agree that these young minds are a new breed of intellect and aspiration. They are not scared to be all they can imagine to be. If anything, they are daring the rest of the world they operate in to follow suit. They are instilling a new sense of freedom and liberation.
The biggest question: is the world ready to be taken forward by these dreamers? Is the world ready to change the way they see things and willing to see the future through a new perspective? Are old systems ready to adapt and do things slightly differently in order to keep connecting and staying relevant to the world?
Opportunity: Show them you understand the birth of the new mind