Streetwear is a style that is said to have emerged from neighbourhoods rather than fashion designers and was often associated with hip hop and skateboarding culture. An unconventional aesthetic of dressing that seems to be currently dominating the fashion trade. Streetwear is generally a way to describe comfortable clothing. Today, it has become synonymous with being fashionably cool clothing.
The popularity of the streetwear aesthetic propelled Candice Mahlangu and her husband Dumisani to leverage from this cool trend and creatively take it a step further. They are co-owners of Chepa African-print Streetwear, a clothing company for men and women based in Midrand – south of Johannesburg. The name “Chepa” is pronounced t/shepa – a Pretoria township slang word meaning stylish or well dressed.
Although new in the fashion game, the name Chepa will soon become a name on everyone’s lips and a retail force to be reckoned with. They design and manufacture up-to-the-minute streetwear clothing using very bright coloured African-African print fabric.
“Our dream is to be the leading online African-print streetwear brand in the world. Everyone, whether you live in Cape Town, Cairo or Australia, would know the name Chepa Streetwear. We dream that our brand would grow to such an extent that everyone would at least own one Chepa garment in their wardrobe. Our dream is for people to be able to recognise our logo and associate it with quality and trendy fashion. Wearing Chepa will not only be a matter of wearing a piece of clothing, but it will be about making a statement, says Candice.
She says their love for African print is one of the reasons they started the business. “Dumisani and I love African print and have African print garments as a standard in our wardrobe. When we wore our African print apparel, people would comment and want us to sell them what we were wearing or ask where we had bought the items. We identified a gap in the market and saw an opportunity for us to provide African print streetwear that could be worn every day, at every occasion, or for no occasion at all, whether to work or going to buy bread at the shop or chilling at the local hangout spot,” she says.
They then decided to explore the market and make clothes that are practical, easy to wear and eye-catching. Candice also says that they are mindful of the fact that they have to keep up with the trends to keep their customers excited and to remain relevant. “We are always on the look-out for trending styles and what seems to be attracting the attention of the market and our clients. These days, designers seem to be pushing the boundaries more and more. Previously, one would never wear polka dots with stripes or print on print, but these previous parities no longer exist,” she says.
“Our aim is to promote a post-modern, Afrocentric culture within people to foster an appreciation for casual, modern, African-print and character-like clothing, thereby making it equally relevant to the times in its practicality and simplicity.”
Their signature items are bomber jackets, which is a must have in any wardrobe for any occasion. Candice says what sets Chepa apart from other clothing brands is the fact that they are not your typical African-print clothing company. “The quality of our garments and the personal touch is what sets us apart from other brands. We have also used technology to our advantage. We intend to influence the online shopping culture in South Africa to create a brand which people can trust and shop from easily, without any worry. We interact a lot with our clients at our pop-up shops or when we do personal deliveries. We also engage with our customers in all our social media platforms. This is where our clients share ideas and what they want to see us add to the brand,” she says.
Chepa pride themselves as a high-tech driven business and they attribute their success and growth to this. They are working on exploring more digital marketing techniques and improving their online store design and layout. They will also be launching an App which will give their clients a much more personalised shopping and content driven experience.