Air Talks

Define yourself, define the future

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An essence engrained in its past, Thesis Lifestyle delimits the future’s possibilities

Perfectly capturing the essence and vibrancy of their community, Thesis Lifestyle co-founders, Wandile Zondo, and Galebowe Mahlatsi (also known as Wireless G), began their journey by selling stylish second-hand clothing, lighting the fire to what has now redefined street culture. 

“Based on no rules to express who you are,” Thesis was launched as a study to illustrate a new point of view of street culture. 

“The brand was a canvas for young people to express themselves.” 

Thesis Lifestyle takes cues from its forefathers and constantly creates spaces that empowers and grows its community. Always aiming to create the next best thing without the restrictions of rules, the brand’s arms stretch into community and social projects like the run and cycle club. Products like their bucket hats and graphic tees are their signature, with developing style allowing the apparel to keep its freshness and appeal.

What started out as a brand 15 year ago, right after Wandile concluded his tenure at Edgars, emerged into a movement. With 2 stores launched, they still face challenges of keeping the lights on and understand the risks of starting out a business, but the brand’s growth sees international recognition with tourists coming from all over the world to purchase merchandise. “We know the long-term game now,’ says G, with his sights for Thesis set on longevity. 

Thesis propels a legacy built on the backbone of its significant past.

Thesis co-founders, Wandile Zondo and Wireless G, are a force in leading the evolution of Johannesburg’s street culture. Celebrating the heritage of resting legends, along with the traditions and history of our country, he introduces a revised concept of the modern street aesthetic within the community. 

Wandi and G push the boundaries of conventional urban style and recreate a contemporary flavour for people who demand space to step into the future. Further than this, with the Thesis events, they create space for culture to burst beyond its borders, allowing them to truly redefine the future.

Air Talks

Classic inspiration for a future redefined

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With a futuristic take on the much loved and classic sound that is RnB, Elaine’s vocal focused sound defies bounds and sets a forward trajectory that reshapes the future of local soul music. 

With no surprise that she landed the title of “first independent woman to reach the number one on African Apple Music album charts”, Elaine did all of that within a month of releasing her debut EP to the world and did it all while studying a grueling university law degree. If that’s not game changing, you can’t help but beg the question, well, what is?

Steadfast and multi-disciplinarian, she has already gone against the grain of what it means to be a woman, redefining success and formulating her own rules along the way. Having a strong voice, her undeniable force continues to precede her as she continues on her phenomenal journey. The self-funded body of work released last year, created by what some would call an “inexperienced bunch”, obliterates the misconception that one needs extensive experience in a field in order to create magic. Looking to the future to create something with elements borrowed from the past is how this law student rose to fame and made sure the public doesn’t forget her. 

As long as music lives on, it exists in the minds of the youth who appreciate the groundwork laid by the greats that came before them, learning from their processes and applying it to their revolutionary work to carry them into the future. These are the makings of the new school winners like Elaine, who’s music not only transcends genres, but undoubtedly shifts into new spheres, those of which seemingly cannot be defined yet; that’s what defines a future everlasting. 

Redefining the face of success with a record breaking, fully-independent album, Elaine paves the way for her generation and those after her to define for themselves what it means to reference the past in order to create the future.

She has created a novel sound that pays homage to the throwbacks of 90s RnB, making them relevant and flawlessly fit for the future with her smooth, controlled and mature voice. Her limit smashing rise to success defies the traditional routes to success, she not only defies barriers, but meets them head on. 

Air Talks

Slicker than your average dancer

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A creator of groove wherever she moves, she exudes an infectious spirit with her care-free attitude, all while being a beacon of inspiration in her community.

Professional dancer, choreographer, and flyest girl on the block, Tarryn Alberts, otherwise known as Tarryn TNT, has been blazing the trails of dance since she could walk. 

With a career that began at age 17, the Eldorado Park native has been a firecracker with capabilities you’ve only seen on TV, while simultaneously setting an impeccable example for the youth in and around Eldorado Park.

Shaking up the local dance scene in music videos such as Yungsta CPT’s ‘Old Kaapie’, and dancing for Danny K on a worldwide stage, Tarryn’s tenacity has been the driving force behind her success. In her early dance years, she joined V.I.N.T.A.G.E. dance crew, and later danced for Die Antwoord and travelled the world with artist Manthe Ribane. 

Having recently visited New York City with DJ Doowap, where they both performed at AFROPUNK Brooklyn’s main stage, Tarryn’s flow keeps pushing international boundaries.

After founding So Dope Dance Academy, Tarryn has created a movement within her community that forges links between dance and real life. “My dance studio is a haven for the students who attend the classes. It’s a fun environment where they feel inspired to be anything they want to be,” says Tarryn. “

Tarryn hosts dance classes twice a week and invites those with an uncontrollable urge to move to join her. Conscious movement is what it’s all about, as Tarryn’s workshops aim to prove that not only is dance the refuge to those that move and shake, but also that local dancers inhabit the flavour of the society in which they reside. “Not only do they receive a dance instructor but a mentor as well – the space is where I teach creativity and life skills,” Tarryn adds. 

Being a performer at heart, she has been the go-to South African dancer and choreographer for music videos and touring artists. But it is her role in her community that is most admirable as she continues to focus is on building the youth and showing that one can really live off of dance. 
With the emancipation that comes with dance, sublimely paired with Tarryn’s carefree attitude, the force created within every space she opens is undeniable. There is something to be said about her persona and utter demand of respect in a space where she can move freely.

Air Talks

Taking the Vogue nation to the streets

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Fearlessly breaking boundaries and unapologetically claiming space in this modern world,  Ntsikelelo ‘Lelo’ Meslani is changing the landscape for creativity amongst the youth, and breaking every mould you thought existed. 

With accolades running a mile off a page, Joburg based Lelo Meslani, also known as ‘Lelowhatsgood’, is redefining what it means to be a young black creative in South Africa. A jack of all trades and master of them all,  Lelo is a DJ, content creator, writer, digital marketer and Senior Features Editor of digital-zine Faculty Press. The multi-talented visionary, whose work has been published by The New York Times, Mail and Guardian and Superbalist’s The Way Of Us, is also scheduled to set the 2019 AFROPUNK JHB stage alight.

Not only is he securing the bag, Lelo is a driver in the fight for social change. Having founded Vogue Nights in 2018, a safe nightlife playground for the queer community grounding itself in music, art and dance, he not only understood the need for a change in the way individuals socialise, but rose to pioneer status when he took the initiative and became a self-starter. The importance of having a space like this in today’s world has become more important than ever before, and with a young prodigy like him, who has his fingers on the pulse, his success comes at no wonder. 

 “I’ve chosen to use creativity to interpret the world I live in to give things more meaning.” In a growing conscious world, careers are being matched with one’s life purpose, and Lelo certainly has no difficulties when it comes to that. His life stands testament that one need not stick to a single career journey; if you’ve been blessed with multiple talents, let them all shine! 

It is fear that detracts one from becoming their best self, and Lelo seemingly has none of it. An undeniable front runner, he is not only building a legacy for himself, but inviting others to be a part of it too. Creating a space that can be owned by those that are a part of it are what make for grand movements, and with its members flying the flag for the generation to come, Lelo remains stationed at its helm.

Air Talks

Pantsula has a new force

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A game changer in every sense, Leballo Lee Lenela’s can-do attitude continues to keep her at the forefront of the pantsula stage with the spotlight fixed on her at every point.

Professional Pantsula dancer and athlete in her own right, Lee grew up in Soweto and was inspired by the culture of the streets. Pantsula bug bit her at a young age and she hasn’t stopped dancing since. Typically seen as a dance reserved for men, Lee is a daring hero for young girls in her community as she continues to lead her dance crew, Intellectual Pantsula. 

Unflinchingly, Leballo has always gone above and beyond to prove that limits are a mere figment of  the imagination. Growing up, she had to mask her passion as a hobby in order to be allowed to dance. She was chosen by the exuberant culture of the streets and learned about what truly makes her heart beat.  Her passion for dance led to her becoming a force for change amongst the young women who now look to her for inspiration. 

A natural born leader, it was not long before she started influencing people to open their minds and think differently, those who never saw women as pantsula dancers. “Being a woman disadvantages me even though I can dance better than some of the male dancers” she says. This is a sentiment her mother shared as well and it took some convincing to let her live out her dream. Since then, she has been fearlessly expressive of her freedom and in the process, opening doors for the generation that comes after her. 

What was movement, became a culture. What became a culture catapulted her into the light, from where she continues to take hold of her power and female energy . From a tumultuous time comes a beautiful heritage-filled narrative that accurately illustrates an authentic story. “Pantsulas were the cool guys – everyone wanted to be like them or be around them. It had this respect and I was so happy that I could celebrate that dance,” says Lee. 

As a celebration of her history, she chose this specific dance style because it meant more than just busting a move or winning dance battles. She is not only a part of a sub-culture that was completely homegrown but she is killing it and opening doors for young girls like her. Taking charge whenever she hits the dance floor, she lives out her dream every day. 

If there was ever a force for change, Lee is an inspiration. Living in a community that still believes pantsula dancers should be men, her drive to be the best has created a space where girls can see themselves in a new light, doing things they wouldn’t typically do. In the true sense of trailblazing, Lee stands strong in her dreams, saying that the sheer magnitude of her aspirations sometimes scare her. 

“We own it, so we must master it in every way,” she says. For as long as she creates paths for herself, she will continue to open up the circle for other young women, constantly lifting as she rises. 

Air Talks

5 MINUTES WITH AMY ZAMA

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Q: WHEN DID YOUR LOVE FOR FASHION AND CREATIVITY BEGIN?

A: My love for creativity has always been there, it was cultivated through many extra curriculum activities my mother got me involved in, in my younger days. From pottery, playing violin and art classes – but my relationship with fashion came along through my art. I have always had a nev- er-ending obsession with controlling fashion to educate me over it just being about putting good clothes on my back.

Q: TELL US ABOUT HOW YOUR JOURNEY WITH STYLING STARTED?

A: Funny, I actually fell into styling. I was a photographic assistant whilst still studying, and from working with my mentor Aart Verrips, I met my two other mentors ,Rich Mnisi and Bee Diamond who took me under their wing and I started exploring fashion not just through shoots but also engaging heavily in the manufacturing and production side of what it means to be a designer and encumbered myself into styling by means of being given independent opportunities to explore my skill sets in styling and creative direction.

Q: YOU HAVE STYLED FOR VOGUE ITALY, WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH SUCH A RENOWNED MAGAZINE?

A: Haha, my work for Faculty Press was featured on Vogue, it was creative directed and styled by me which was a pretty dope thing, but what blew me away is the reaction many of the fashion pro- fessionals had about the shoot in Europe – (as that’s where Faculty Press launched officially at Somerset House). Then being able to get the opportunity to actually contribute work for Vogue Italia, I guess was a dream come true, as any creative would feel. But moreover, humbling cause I got to also understand how fast and ahead of time the team worked and the fact that I got to have free reign on such a platform was nothing but a gift.

Q: YOU ARE COLLABORATING WITH NIKE FOR THE HOUSE OF AIR ZONE IN SPORTSCENE, WHAT IS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR THE LOOKS YOU WILL BE CREATING IN THE SPACE?

A: My inspiration for the House of Air Zone is living in the city of Johannesburg, where the kids reign supreme. From all walks of tradition, race and culture – coming up to the street culture in- fused blocks of the Magnus opus of all upcoming, emerged and emerging artists, creatives and kids who just embrace sneaker culture and street style to its epitome. The House Of Air style in- spiration is a homage to the kids who have been doing it before the gram, before the hype and before the fame , the kids who travel far and wide to come and spend the day chilling on the benches at Father Coffee to rocking their everyday best at Great Dane and Kitcheners cause Sunday does not give them enough chance to show off their fashion sense. HOUSE OF AIRS is for those who FLOAT never with the times, and don’t conform to GRAVITY.

Q: AS A CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND CONTRIBUTOR EDITOR AT FACULTY PRESS, WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THIS CREATIVE INDUSTRY AND THE PROJECTS YOU WORK ON?

A: What I enjoy most about being a creative director is having the power to educate through crea- tivity be it fashion or art. The power in knowing that whatever creative outlet you produce will have somewhat of an impact be it small or big, is what I enjoy most about creative direction. As a contributing editor at Faculty Press, I enjoy the exploration of being able to dabble into different genres of creativity, being able to do a shoot for a brand through societal influence or learning about the different artists and their work through collaborating with poets, fine artists etc., in the name of exploring to learn and exploring to grow is the best thing.

Q: THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL LOCAL SOUTH AFRICAN ARTISTS THAT YOU HAVE COLLABORATED WITH, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE COLLABORATION SO FAR AND WHY?

A: The shoot I did for Faculty Press’s first issue titled “ Izithyilelo Zika Ndzimani” ( The Revela- tion Of The Children Of God) ,has to be one of my favourites, just because I got the opportunity to not only create a shoot that was based off a dream that constantly kept coming up able to but I also got to execute it with a fellow creative Anthony Bila, who immediately understood my vision and executed the photography beautifully and get to work with underground creatives both emerging and new to the industry, who were able to further exude and push the narrative seam- lessly – is all I could’ve asked for as a creative.

Q: WHAT IS YOUR TOP 3 STYLE TRENDS FOR THE UPCOMING SPRING SEASON?

A: 1. Cruise/ Resort inspired by sailor aesthetic has to be number one just because Prada, Lanvin and Kenzo made it applicable for everyone to have a chance at rocking the aesthetic. Cropped shorts, nautical stripes and sailor tops in summer just add more emphasis to dressing for season.

2. Soft suiting in sorbet shades. Suits have always been timeless and they’re not going anywhere, but the sorbet palettes and light weight fabrication that designers such as Dior and Officine Générale are bringing to the frontier, is leaving me excited to see people’s interpretations of the trend.

3. And lastly the Tie Die take off, is also a favourite of mine, just because it being so reminiscent of joy, peace and happiness. Tie Die overkill via street brand like Stüssy to a high end one like Dries Van Noten, goes to show how versatile and adaptable this trend can be.

Q: WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE OTHER ASPIR ING CREATIVES AND STYLISTS?

A: As a creative the only advice I can give is never doubt your process or your journey, always keep in mind that what you put into the world as a creative is always about you but always be cog- nisant at the fact that it will still reach public opinion good or bad, embrace it. As a stylist, the advice would be, learn the etiquette and practice behind being a stylist and mould your yourself to get to what it takes to be one.

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Air Talks

Pantsula has a new force

A game changer in every sense, Leballo Lee Lenela’s can-do attitude continues to keep her at the forefront…

Air Talks

Classic inspiration for a future redefined

With a futuristic take on the much loved and classic sound that is RnB, Elaine’s vocal focused sound defies bounds and sets a forward trajectory that reshapes the future of local soul music.