Soweto gets moving with
a little help from Fixin Diaries
and Thesis Lifestyle
South African photographer Rudi Geyser hitched a ride to Soweto with I See A Different You to visit Fixin Diaries and Thesis Lifestyle, two stores that have become not only cool hangouts but also centrifugal forces helping to grow the local biking and running scenes. Here, they share their feel-good vision, which is as much about getting fit as it is dressing well.
Brothers Mojalefa Masopha and Karabo Masopha opened their workshop in Pimville, Soweto in early 2014 and now have a store in Melville, Johannesburg too. They refurbish and build bespoke bicycles, offer riding lessons and host group rides with fellow fixie obsessives Ayanda Moholi and Hussain van Roos. They have perhaps the best slogan ever: “Three guys. One girl. No spandex.”
What is the Fixin Diaries ethos?
Unlike Cape Town, the commuter cycling scene is still in its infancy in Johannesburg. Although there’s a big community of mountain bike racers thanks to events such as Critical Mass, Momentum 94.7 and Jozi Hustle, these don’t speak to commuter riders. Our mission is to get every person in Soweto on a bicycle. Biking has health benefits, cuts down on the high transportation costs and promotes a sense of community. You’re generally a happier person when you ride a bike.
Who are your customers?
They range from people in the townships to large brands that recognise the cycling revolution and want be a part of it.
Tell us about your events?
Fishtail Rides is a PUMA-owned ride facilitated by Fixin Diaries that encourages people to live their city. We’ve taken it to Johannesburg and Pretoria so far. And Brunch & Ride is a monthly ride for ladies. Not enough women are riding bicycles so this is our way of encouraging them to take it up.
"You’re generally a happier person when you ride a bike"
On the first Sunday of the month The Locrate Market promotes local businesses and start ups. It’s conveniently located near the busiest tourist destination in Soweto, Vilakazi Street, so it gets the benefits of international visitors and performers.
What is the mood of young people in Soweto today?
Young people are trying to create their own paths and legacies. Gone are the days when they dreamed of working at specific companies and climbing up the corporate ladder. More than just money, the youth wants to be recognised for doing something innovative and inspiring. They are also very supportive of other youth doing the same.
What are your plans for the future?
Fixin Diaries hopes to expand beyond Soweto, which we’ve started to do with our Melville store. We want to sell more bikes, influence policy in the riding realm and get the Gautrain to accept bikes on the train.
Visit Fixin Diaries
Galebowe Mahlatsi and Wandile Zondo established Thesis Lifestyle as a men’s urbanwear brand in 2005. Ten years on, it has two stores, one in Soweto and one in Kagiso, and its music and running events promote positive street culture.
What is the Thesis ethos?
At first Thesis aimed to fill the gap for quality streetwear in South Africa. A group of frustrated youth took it upon themselves to illustrate a new point of view about Soweto and the townships. To this day this remains our driving force. This entails opening retail concepts and engaging the youth through events and talks. We’re now a team of nine and employ young and educated people who are full of energy and ideas.
What have been some major milestones?
We have worked with Nike on various projects including the Soweto Marathon in 2014 and launching the first Nike night marathon in 2012 and with Adidas on the mural project Art Soweto. We’ve also joined forces with other multi nationals such as Redbull and Coca Cola. But for us, being open is the biggest milestone. A decade in this game where many fall off is a blessing.
Tell us about your music events?
It started with our Sunday Jam Sessions, then the Thesis Live After Jam Sessions. Now we have a new monthly event called Good Vibe Hangout in Kagiso. We invite bands and DJs to perform who are willing to explore the good nature of music.
"We believe that a good mind is anchored on a good body"
Wandile has been running for 15 years and I have been running for five thanks to him, so it was natural for us to invite friends into this healthy way of living. Now we host runs every Saturday morning. We believe that a good mind is anchored on a good body.
Who else is bubbling up in Soweto right now?
Producer Thabo Monaheng’s Instagram account shows the good of Soweto. Tshepo Don Dada and King Mosha, a graphic designer and a dancer, have a good following and are moving in the correct direction. Bob The Stylist is transitioning from styling to making suits. And I Create, We Create is an endeavour that encourages creative culture through entrepreneurial development.
Who are the street style tastemakers?
I See A Different You influence a more mature crowd and the kids look up to Tshepo Don Dada because he is a progressive Skhotane. His life isn’t about just flashy things, he is also a graphic designer for other Skhotane crews.
Do young people in Soweto feel empowered today?
I think its up to individuals to empower themselves. Key challenges are education, drugs and unemployment coupled with pure laziness. While the government might be the biggest employer in South Africa, people need to equip themselves with the correct knowledge in order to seek a better life.
What are your plans for the future?
We aim to create more jobs through our online retail venture. We want to open up two or three more stores in other townships. And we have collaborations in the pipeline that will see us venturing into the luggage for the first time.