Local designer, Sabelo Shabalala, is defying fashion’s rules and merging the worlds of high-end luxury with streetwear. The culmination is his boundary-pushing brand, Richmanskyf, which he describes as “a luxury streetwear brand, with revolutionary clothing”.
Originally from the Eastern Cape, but raised in Durban, Sabelo is used to merging worlds. He says, “I’m lucky enough to have experienced both city life and rural life. Richmanskyf is an outlet for my worldviews that have been shaped from living, and experiencing cultures, in two different places in the same country.”
We asked Sabelo a few questions to learn more.
Tell us about the brand name, Richmanskyf.
Richmanskyf is an old term that originated in South African townships and was used to refer to high-quality strains of narcotics. Over time, it evolved to refer to anything of high quality. So, the term resonated with what I am trying to do, which is to introduce high-end, quality streetwear in an over-saturated space. In South Africa, there are many people printing T-shirts and calling that a streetwear brand, but I am trying to create something entirely unique that speaks to the essence of streetwear.
What influences your design?
I pay very close attention to streetwear all over the world to stay informed as to what is going on globally and adjust that to fit our South African market. This means re-interpreting international styles, adding South African flair and infusing some of our culture into them.
Why is streetwear more than just fashion?
Streetwear is not just clothing – it’s a movement. It is a youth-powered movement that begins on the ground. People think that there are powerful fashion corporates dictating how the streetwear movement grows and moves, but actually, it is quite the opposite. It is streetwear that influences big corporations. Streetwear is more about freedom than anything else.
Why do you merge streetwear with high-end fashion?
I just love both worlds. I wanted the freedom to design a tailored suit while also designing a hoody and T-shirt. This freedom of expression feels liberating. So, that is why I have merged them.
You are on a mission to create sustainable ecosystems in local communities. What does this mean in practice?
Sustainability can be practiced in several different ways – it differs from person to person. I believe that reusing old materials to create new items is a very effective way to be sustainable. Another practice I believe in is creating quality clothing that lasts a lifetime and has the potential to be passed down through generations, rather than thrown away like fast fashion.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The Chivas collaboration has to be the highlight so far. Having the opportunity to work with the collaborators gave me invaluable knowledge and the experience that I needed to equip myself for my career. It was also the first time I collaborated with other creatives on that scale.
What is your favourite item in your wardrobe? And why?
Besides my own clothing, it would be my G-star Sherpa denim jacket. It’s a classic denim piece and feels as if it will last me a lifetime.
Who are your local fashion heroes?
My top inspiration is Thebe Magugu. It’s so amazing how far he has come by telling the South African story through his designs. He does this in his own way and has captivated the global consumer.
- To learn more about Richmanskyf, follow them on Instagram.
- Images supplied by Sabelo Shabalala