Nataal exclusive: Cape Town’s
high end, laid back street brand Young and Lazy walks on the wild
side with its SS17 lookbook

The corner store family stole not a little limelight at South African Menswear Week SS16/17. Housing three brands with strong clout among Cape Town’s streetwear community, the collective made up of 2BOP, Sol-Sol Menswear and Young and Lazy has helped to broaden the reach of the event among the city’s youth. And no Cape Town brand speaks the language of said youth quite like Young and Lazy. Coming out of the show, one kid I spoke to described it as “the greatest moment of my life… the best thing I’ve ever seen.” The brand’s creative director Anees Petersen presented a striped back collection that was equal parts wild and wearable. Bootleg track pants and shorts mixed and matched with deliberately inauthentic African prints and long sleeve t-shirts featuring minimalist branding imposed onto local imagery.

The show hailed South Africa’s little-celebrated style icons. Those who blend influences from any of the vast and complex African and Eastern backgrounds from which they were birthed with aspects of current sneaker culture, and in so doing,  elevate street fashion. This is an act that I perceive as a hallmark of a new African identity, the story of which is being unraveled skillfully by so many of my peers. These characters are those that enter into the consciousness of anyone who frequents South Africa’s urban areas on a daily basis. The guy who comes up to you on Long Street pushing ‘some good shit’ or the dudes who sell Bob Marley merch on Adderley Street. The uncle walking from Walmer estate to work at the docks everyday or the vast array of humans you might find at a taxi rank. All people whose rich cultural energy imposes itself over oppressive urban architecture, playing such an important role in creating life in the cities we claim to love so much. Don’t liken the uncle in overalls and All Stars to trends prevailing in streetwear. He is the site of that story, not the WTAPS Insta page. Think hype beasts in #tripleblack Salaah tops acting as though they are #UrbanNinjas while giving no credit to the rich and relevant stories contained within the immaculately considered silhouettes they have adopted.

"My aim for this collection was to glorify
the everyday South African that you wouldn't associate with high fashion. To me, taxi drivers
in both Cape Town and Johannesburg have
the most amazing style"

“I’ve been looking at where I came from and my culture and history and what I experience on a daily basis as a South African,” says Petersen of his inspirations. “My aim for this collection was to glorify the everyday South African that you wouldn't associate with high fashion. To me, taxi drivers in both Cape Town and Johannesburg have the most amazing style. Then I mixed it up with cheesy animal print that the rest of the world associates Africa with.”

The SS17 lookbook, a collaboration between Young and Lazy and frequent collaborator, photographer Ricardo Simal, juxtaposes the seemingly fake aspects of these nuanced identities with recognisable African iconography to present inclusive, unpretentious local personas that are deserving of praise. It’s about what we can learn from uniform, proportion, silhouette and heritage, as well as showcasing pride in our appearance every single day, no matter the circumstances.

Since it launched in 2009, I have built up quite an archive of Young and Lazy pieces so I can say with confidence that the brand has grown from strength to strength. It has evolved from its street and skate beginnings rooted in well constructed t-shirts, crews, track pants and hoodies to this latest collection showcasing Petersen's approach to high fashion. His experimentation with jackets and shirts, as well as material and colour, take Young and Lazy into new realms. Meanwhile the corner store , recently voted among the Superbalist 100 list of South African movers and shakers, continues to build as a Woodstock mecca for Cape Town’s skate scene. As much a shop as a social space, you’ll often find post-graduate student and DJ Kalo Canterbury behind the counter. “This collection is forward-thinking yet still true to Young and Lazy's definitively effortless style. I like to think of it as offering luxurious leisure pieces with the stunt-ability that exceeds the rarest item you've ever purchased,” Canterbury says. “If summer looks anything like this lookbook we're in for a total heatwave.”

Photography Ricardo Simal
Art direction Xzavier Kunene
Words Luke Doman