Cape Town’s street culture mecca Corner Store hosted the first Summer Camp for the next generation of creatives

The streetwear scene in Cape Town is small. The kind of small where fierce competition is expected. But its centrifugal force, Corner Store in Woodstock, defies that expectation. The flagship store for three local brands - Twobop, Sol-Sol Menswear and Young and Lazy - was started by the founders of each brand, Anthony Smith, Mathew Kieser and Anees Petersen, respectively. Upstairs is where the clothing is designed and manufactured and where friends - illustrators, graphic designers and photographers - are busy at work, or just hanging out. Meanwhile downstairs, Corner Store’s spirit of collaboration and raising those around you has made it a place of congregation.

Marketing manager and designer Luke Doman wanted to reach a new generation of creatives, some still in high school, who had been drawn to the store. Likewise, Quaid Heneke, also known as performance artist Queezy, had been thinking about practical ways he could help the next wave of young artists. The two connected through DJ Kalo Canterbury and put out a call about Summer Camp, a day of talks and workshops hosted at Corner Store focusing on career opportunities in fashion, art and music. “The starting point for Summer Camp came from the idea that the powers that be aren't nurturing our emerging creatives,” explains Heneke. In school there’s no foundations laid for how to become a stylist or a DJ because such endeavours are seen as hobbies by the older generation. In the South African context, where many young people are the first in their families to have access to tertiary education and similar opportunities, their dreams can be at odds with parental obligations to study medicine, business or law: careers with security and financial freedom. Summer Camp is hoping to show kids that it’s possible to have a sustainable creative career.

Doman speaks of this from personal experience. “As a youngin my dream of becoming a fashion designer was beaten out of me in a traditional boys school environment,” he recalls. “Even the most supportive and open parents couldn't prevent that from happening. I say fuck that, it’s a narrative I want to flip.” He and Heneke see the Summer Camp programme as a way to fill the gaps.

“My aim is to provide kids with tools that help them to overcome the fear of not being perfect, of what other people think and even of what they think of themselves”

To attend the first Summer Camp, potential students had to write a 140 character motivation to apply. “The replies were incredible and [we saw that] these kids are exceptionally smart and know what they want out of life,” says Heneke. The kids who showed up for the first event were from all walks of life, from private school backgrounds to low income areas, and also ranged in ability and experience, with some having already started to build their own portfolios. The line-up of mentors they came to see are all young creatives themselves - burgeoning success stories only just on their way to realising their visions for their futures, which made them relatable. Like Lukhanyo Mdingi, whose eponymous fashion label has garnered international attention and been showcased at London Fashion Week. He spoke to a full house about what it takes to maintain an independent brand.

Angelo Valerio, also known as musician and performer Angel-Ho, shared his journey into music and how it’s allowed him to travel the world to perform. After this was a practical session where the attendees took turns on the decks and the most promising went on to DJ at local party RNBWITHME at The Waiting Room in Long Street. Artist Alessandré Pret hosted a tour of the surrounding galleries, which explored different ways art can be experienced beyond painting. And Heneke arrived for his session as Queezy, bringing a different energy to the usually male-influenced streetwear space. Queezy gave a lesson in styling and how to deconstruct garments to create something new. The resulting outfits were modelled by the young stylists themselves and photographed for a lookbook.

Getting hands on and trying things out is a big part of Summer Camp. “Ultimately my aim is to provide kids with tools that help them to overcome the fear that has been programmed into them, the fear of not being perfect, of what other people think and even of what they think of themselves,” says Doman, who is planning the second event for the forth quarter of the year. “We are working on making Summer Camp more focused on the relationship between the mentor and the youngsters. The direction is to make Summer Camp a luxury organisation giving back to talented kids in underserved communities and providing them with a platform with all the necessary tools and networks.”

As such, Summer Camp isn’t about spoon-feeding. The lessons come with a strong emphasis on doing it for yourself, but together. They want to provide young people with encouragement to channel that antsy energy and urge to create into collaborating with each other. “We need them to understand that discovering their own ways of doing is just as important as learning the ways of white men before them,” adds Doman, who like Heneke, believes that you don’t necessarily need money to actualise your dreams, you just need each other. It brings to mind a proverb from this part of the world: if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

See a shoot featuring Corner Store brands here
Read a story on Young and Lazy here

Photography Luke Doman, Sarah Hugo-Hamman and Dune Tilley
Words Alix-Rose Cowie

Visit Corner Store

Published on 02/08/2017