Ashleigh McCulloch is a South African designer and founder of Monastery. Her fascination with the human need to reach sanctity is her impetus for creating quintessential pieces that exist in an imperfect world.
We reached out to her to find out about her journey and the inspiration behind her Monastery SS16 range.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Johannesburg.
How has your childhood inspired your decision to be a fashion designer?
I only learned how to sew in my first year of fashion school, but my gran was an interior designer and a very talented seamstress. She had an old Singer machine that came attached to a table that I loved to tinker with. When I was a child I was obsessed with Victorian dresses and the clothes in novels like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and my gran used to make me garments like that that I’d dress up with veils and lace. I was very melodramatic! I was always drawing women in long flowing dresses with heavy jewellery. But I really loved the idea of these strict garments; corsets and hoops, in hot dry landscapes, like my family’s farm. I loved the idea of a beautiful, extravagant garment looking totally out of place in this harsh outpost at the edge of an empire. Movies like The Piano and Picnic at Hanging Rock really illustrate that well with costumes.
I was inspired by a coming of age type experience, a person being cleansed of their innocence and ushered into adulthood.
What are the challenges you face in this industry?
South Africans are very hesitant to explore with their fashion choices. It’s a conservative country and it definitely reflects in people’s style. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find an audience for something more avantgarde.
What are the highlights of your career?
I think just starting this business is a highlight at this point! I decided to do it at a really challenging moment in my life and so far things are going well.
What inspired this (Monastery SS16) Particular range?
I was inspired by a coming of age type experience, a person being cleansed of their innocence and ushered into adulthood. I’m Catholic by heritage and I’m not religious but I’ve always been fascinated by the rituals of the church. I wanted to look at this as the first in a series of someone being ushered into a holy state. It’s the human need to become a better person, to constantly leave one aspect behind so as to acquire new knowledge and a greater meaning of one’s life. The pastel colours I chose were a deliberate look at naivety and youth. I’m currently working on where this concept will go next!
Where can people purchase your garments?
Hopefully the garments will be available online by early to mid-February. I’m also hoping to have a pop-up shop in Johannesburg around the same time.
Photography: Zele Angelides
Assistant: Obakeng Molepe
Turning Heads. A fashion film by Kgomotso Neto
Last night I waited with bated breath as Photographer Kgomotso Neto flung a carrot dead in front of our eyes and told us to wait. The “carrot” came in the form of captivating video snippets which featured models with rich brown skin draped in crisp pastel colours. The subjects all turned their heads to a nostalgic and at some parts eery mbaqanga song.
I scoured the web and stalked his social media pages in search of a stitch of clarity and finally clicked on a youtube link thinking I’d find a longer video or perhaps a better understanding of what I was experiencing. I was met by a black screen with a count down clock and at that point, I decided that I don’t like carrots.
Finally, the anticipation is over, the full video is out and it’s not about carrots but about a much more personal story that many black South Africans can relate to. The story of getting your hair done on the streets or a banged up salon so that you can turn heads in your hood, school or your fancy office block. Here’s what Kgomotso had to say about the story behind the beautifully captured “Turning Heads” fashion film.
“I’ve always had my hair cut in the streets or at a local barber in my neighbourhood. The experience is always similar and the process of getting my hair cut is almost always the same – paging through a fashion magazine while waiting for my turn, getting seated on a swivel chair or if I’m in the street, it’s most likely to be a small colourful plastic chair. Once it’s my turn, the barber would first throw a protective sheet over my shoulders before he proceeds to clean the clippers with mentholated spirit and a tooth brush. He would then begin to cut my hair, I usually go for a chiskop. When he is done, he would hand me a small mirror so I can look at myself and see if I’m satisfied with his work. This is just my experience with cutting hair.
A lot of people go through different experiences when grooming themselves in street salons. Some go to have their hair straightened with a relaxer cream such as Sofn’free, some to get braids/wigs, others to just wash their hair and the process is always different for what you’re getting treated for, but the result tends to always be the same – when you’re done, you leave feeling good about yourself and chances are you might Turn Heads along the way.” Neto explains.
This film is far from a one-man project and was pulled together by this powerhouse of a crew, check them out on IG:
Production : @ubuso.tv
Director : @Kgomotso_Neto
Music : @mvziou – Stimela SeGolide
Editor : @superfortyfour1331
Stylist : @didintlen
MUA : @mamello_mokhele
Model 1 : @dimpho.mashile
Model 2: @zoe_pluto
Producer : Chris Briggs
Grade : @nic_apostoli
Mix : @audiophilepost
Retrofontein apparel flagship store launch is a phoenix rising out of Daveyton’s ashes.
Yesterday was a good day for Daveyton as we saw Retrofontein apparel validate their dream of launching a walk-in store for their brand. Since 2012 this brand has been available for purchase through pop up stores and some e-commerce sites but mostly through word of mouth, cash in hand and the use of instant cash sending facilities, which demonstrated Kabelo Tsoka’s relentless desire to get his brand on the backs of many dreamers and believers alike.
We’ve seen this brand grow from an experimental clothing brand to a staple for people who have their stories deeply rooted inside the township’s core, with a dream to grow their branches beyond the invisible ceilings in the sky.
The store took a gruesome 6 months to accomplish and came with a lot of valuable lessons, but the important question here is why did Kabelo not stick to the e-commerce game and avoid the so-called dying industry of brick and mortar (In this case a recycled shipping container) outlets?
“As much as I’m also working on an e-commerce site, I opened a physical store because most people In the East (Ekurhuleni) are still not there yet, I feel my brand needed a space nyana to create a dope brand experience and to make the brand easily accessible to the people. I just want to create the trust first before I can make my online store live, most customers prefer to physically touch the gear before they buy it”
At first search, Daveyton comes off as a violent township filled with nothing but teenage pregnancies and ashes. Colloquially known as Vutha , meaning “to ignite”, this township was dubbed “the first black township with electricity”. Daveyton has a very rich history in politics, rebellious soccer stars, culture-shifting entertainers and has had its fair share of gangsterism, crime and all the social ills that plague communities that have been forced into a dark corner to stay separate from the affluent communities (Then, white people) during the apartheid era.
Decades later after South Africa became a democratic country and black people shared equal rights in this land, a ray of light and divine hope pierced through the darkness to give a new meaning/narrative to Daveyton. This light and narrative came in the form of a league of forward-thinking entrepreneurs such as Kabelo Tsoka the founder of Retrofontein Apparel, a premium streetwear brand that now has an iconic store which sticks out as a vibrant structure and business in this township’s architectural landscape. What can the youth learn from such a development?
“More than anything, this taught me, patience bro, so the youth needs to be patient, follow your dreams and try by all means to make it happen because, at the end of the day, it’s YOUR dream”
Kabelo admits that he faced many character defining moments and one of the biggest challenges was getting the funds to make it happen as well as staying clear of naysayers who didn’t believe that launching his flagship store was a good idea…after all, it’s his dream, why would he let anybody else dictate it?
The store is located at 5039 Mocke street, Daveyton and is open from Tuesday’s to Fridays between 10:00 – 18:00
Check them out on the socials below:
Chepa is the streetwear brand to know for A/W, if you are a true stan of African print.
The growing chill of the morning will soon have us digging deep into our winter storage and if you’re looking to add to your collection of warmers, Chepa might just have what you need.
Streetwear brand Chepa makes casual African print clothing and really cool jackets that can be worn as statement pieces. “Chepa” is a Sepedi word that literally means to swag out, and this brand maintains a South African theme in the naming of their pieces; namely the Mbali Bomber (with floral pattern), and their leopard print bomber which is fittingly
Their sleek designs celebrate African heritage through unique patterns, prints, and impeccable attention to detail which will make you boss up from your Friday meeting, all the way to the streets with no hassle.
Check out more of their threads below and purchase online via their website www.chepa.co.za. You can also get your Autumn/winter fix at The Box Shop in Midrand: 840 Lever road, Noordwyk.
Written By: Nokwazi Phangela
View this post on Instagram
When men crush Wednesday. Thanks you for all the support on BFCM. We are busy with orders and Will deliver soon. To shop this look log onto our #onlinestore _________________________ Available on our #onlinestore www.chepa.co.za or DM us. Click on the image for pricing. Our sales team is ready to take your orders.🛍 __________________________ 📷: @tiyani.kingraphy
The layers of #SAMW A/W19
The runway often offers a fresh perspective on what’s about to be trending on the streets, and for the avid trendsetter; staying ahead of the game is the key. It’s hard to ignore the influence that social media has on our fashion choices, and sometimes searching for the freshest swag can be tedious if you don’t know who to follow. We got you.
The #SAMW A/W19 took place this month, with designers such as Tokyo James, Atto Tetteh and ThrowAwayTwenty showcasing their interpretation of the season’s hottest looks.
The use of contrasting shapes and colours is striking and captivating. Bold prints in autumn hues, such as the ones displayed by Atto Tetteh who’s look is inspired by Seafearers and embodies a “sense of freedom even in constriction.”
Bending The rules one layer at a time
Bend the rules in terms of what goes with what. Yes, a bomber jacket/blanket can be worn with formal pants as well as unconventional prints and tie dye. Tokyo James did it and I am sure you can take it to the next level by bringing your twist into it.
Dipped in neon
ThrowawayTwenty dipped their wand in neon and layered themselves with luxurious hues of blues and pinks topped of with oversized knitted scarves which complete the look with a practical, sexy and confident touch.
Mashup fabrics and pattern blocking
With attention to detail and the correct pairing of different textures, even a monochrome look will pop. Outfits by Roseyandvittori showcase the layering of prints and fabrics all in one. Some of the items display pattern blocking mastery and we can already imagine how the streets will interpret the art of combining intricate fabric patterns such as the revived snake print with meticulous cuts and eye-catching colors.
A/W is all about being fearless and bold with your style. Confidence is always trending, so go on and pick some ideas from #SAMW and rock them with character this Autumn/winter.
Words by: Nokwazi Phangela
Photography by: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo
Riky Rick’s Cotton Club Pop Up store does it for the kids
Kaffein Magazine went to check out Riky Rick’s Cotton Club Records pop up in Braamfontein, Johannesburg and cover the beauty in its apparent spontaneity, we came packed with good energy, curiosity and a whole lot of Oreos and refreshments for what looked to be an interesting afternoon.
I first came across Riky Rick’s music when he dropped his Love and marriage beat tape, (I could write a whole review on this gem but you can download it here), it was then that I opened my eyes to his worldview on music and his unique form of artistry, never would I have imagined seeing his creativity grow and overflow through our screens, radios, phones and into the hearts of so many types of people on so many levels.
Riky dropped the artwork for the event a day before – in classic pop up fashion – and the kids did what they had to do, to show love and support for their hero; and of course to get in line with the hope of getting their hands on the limited merchandise.
The streets were flooded with people watching the day’s entertainment, socializing and showing off their brown paper bags and threads. Every now and then people would come out of the store in their new hoodies and beaming smiles, while the anxious were systematically allowed to enter the store.
A hand full of die-hard supporters had already lined-up outside the shop as early as 08:00 am on a sunny winter’s morning and Boss Zonke showed his genuine appreciation and love by buying them some coffee to keep them warm and in good spirits. He was dressed in his Cotton Club Records Super Distressed hoodie which he mentioned on Instagram as his pick of the litter, blue jeans and classic gold Tims. In sharing the spirit he let his true fans tag his Tims, another solid gesture that displayed his character…to those of us who are usually a screen away from any of his representations. The producer/artist also spent quite a bit of time having fun outside with the fans, taking pictures and touching base with people he knows.
At the end of it all he let as many people as possible into the store and celebrated with them. He sold out his new merch in a few hours but left no one excluded with his presence.
- The store had fresh cropped gender neutral hoodies with bleached hues of soft blues and a pink “Cotton Club Records” logo. Bringing out a free spirited air about this piece.
- Another option was a hoodie with bleached shades of browns mainly Raw Umber and hints of Tan. This item gives off a militant feel to the range as it is reminiscent of a desert storm trooper’s uniform.
- The SUPER DISTRESSED is similar to the above and has a heavily worn out, rugged edge to it, with splashes of dark greens and browns, the logo is in black and appears to be wearing out.
The downfall of the day was the clashing music and entertainment from next door which made the experience a bit jarring for me and made such an awesome day seem like a clash of hip-hop egos, although there’s videos of the man of day hanging out next door and supporting their work too.
All in all It was a refreshing pop up store that disrupted the way day to day business gets handled in Braamfontein and gave power to the streets. A strong message of self belief and community was shared with the audience…reminding us that we can all make our dreams come true if we put our minds to it. Check out the speech below:
Check out the gallery below:
- Turning Heads. A fashion film by Kgomotso Neto
- Retrofontein apparel flagship store launch is a phoenix rising out of Daveyton’s ashes.
- Off The Meds cure a hangover with Belter (Video)
- Untangling the mystique behind braids.
- South African Illustrator imnk talks about empathy, improvision and the imagination behind his art.