The Monsieur knows all the right sorts, file that under fact not brag. I did promise that I would bring you some super to go with the duper that this space is. Don’t cringe, embrace, Super Duper – it’s not like its coming back. That turn of phrase encapsulates what most of us try to say about fashion, and can’t put into words. But we love how fashion makes us look – Super; and we love how it makes other people look at us – Duper. Cause and some sort of effect. Malibongwe Tyilo is only one out of many people that makes their nights about bringing us great moments that we would ordinarily miss, even if we were there. However as Skattie What Are You Wearing, name of his Blog not his Super Hero moniker, Mali sets the pace. It’s all gold everything in terms of being genuinely from South Africa, except when he goes to Hyères photography and fashion festival in the South of France. I am not selling, and you ain’t buying, I give you Skattie.
Skattie, what are you doing these days?
Last time you were here I think I was still in the retail game as a fashion buyer. Well, since then, last year (2012) Feb to be exact, I left retail to pursue freelance writing. Eventually I was offered a very cool position as Editor at Large for Visi magazine, which in my opinion is the best design, décor and architecture magazine in SA. They were also very understanding of my situation with Skattie, the evening events and the freelance work, so I pop into work around noon, leaving the morning open to explore freelance projects.
Back in the day you landed in Cape Town at fashion buyer school – what prompted that decision?
An empty stomach. When I first arrived in CT in 1999 after graduating from fashion college in Johannesburg I was all about design and I considered fashion buying to be some form of selling out to the corporations. Then after four years of dealing with the harsh realities of trying to make it into the SA fashion industry and doing a whole lot of waiting tables on Cape Town’s restaurant scene, I was like fuck that, I need a salary and some damn medical aid so I joined the Truworths buyer training program. I must say I actually ended up enjoying buying so much and it taught me a lot about how the marketplace really works, you know, instead of some of the fantasies that I’d learnt in fashion school.
What were your most amazing buys when travelling the world bringing hot things for Mzanzians?
To be honest I really don’t have particular favourites. The strange thing about fashion buying, that specific part of fashion buying, that one week when you travel, is that it really isn’t as fabulous as it sounds, this idea of shopping as work, it is so exhausting, walking up and down foreign streets, bags weighing you down, shopping sometimes for twelve hours straight, and things just start to look the same. In the interest of full disclosure I should also mention that I absolutely hate shopping, especially for clothes, strange but true.
And then you left that side of the fashion world, was it a good move?
Definitely, I am now focusing on work I am passionate about, chasing projects that are personally meaningful to me, and I am able to direct my creativity where I want it to go. There are things I miss I won’t lie. The thing about this semi-freelance life is that you have to do all your own personal admin. The medical aid, the policies, the provident funds, etc. Whereas when you are a full time employee as a buyer for a retailer, you walk into a situation that is sorted for you, you just sign on the dotted line and voila; medical aid, shares, retirement plans and all of that falls into place.
From fresh eyed buying apprentice to buyer to stylish blogger come tastemaker to photographer/videographer, Skattie what can’t you do?
Hehehe… there’s still a lot to learn. Having dabbled in a few things and looking to dabble in a few more, I’m recognising the value of spending enough time in each of my interests in order to get better at them. My writing and photography have improved because I work on those the most. However, there is still so much more room for improvement. The video work if I am to be honest is actually quite shit, interesting content yes, but technically way inferior to the video work that kids are producing right now. I always think of Nollywood as my main inspiration, some of those movies are made in 2 weeks and the lighting is cringetastic, but you know what, they are pushing on and learning as they go, and they’ve managed to create an economy around themselves and their work because the audience loves the content and aren’t terribly stressed about the lighting, or the acting for that matter. Of course in an ideal world everything should be of a certain standard, but we can’t spend too much time thinking about our obstacles, sometimes we must just start and we’ll learn along the way.
Skattie What Are You Wearing, no really right now, what are you wearing?
A David West deconstructed blazer, a drapey vest from the ladies wear section, a drapey black cotton scarf. Black jeans from some random Chinese import shop, and grey Zara men’s shoes.
Let’s do personal stuff, the Artist currently known as Athi, when did the fairy tale start?
Hehehehe @ fairytale. We met in 2007 when we both moved into a commune in a dodgy neighbourhood on the outskirts of innercity Johannesburg .
Two creatives and some cats, one home – this is your daily reality show, how do you keep it real at home with Athi?
What really helps with Athi and I is that we have a very similar set of insecurities and dreams. So home kind of has to be a safe space, a sanctuary if you will, a place where we can heal, a retreat and refuge from all the judgement and expectations out there. We have this phrase we live by, “I come home to kindness”. Not to say it’s all airy fairy and wonderful, we have our challenges, but because we are both fucked up in similar ways we also get how we need each other and we appreciate the lessons we are teaching each other.
Back to the killer pictures and what you say through them… what do you generally say through your photography?
I love the idea of documenting the space I exist in the way I see it, of course there is the obvious fashion slant, a lot of my pics are about documenting the fashion set. I also have very pop sensibilities and that affects how my work looks. I’m sure you’ve seen Kelis’s old-ish video, Bossy. I love the way that video is shot. So much fashion, superficial society vibes, excess. That video and the work of Jessica Craig Martin (if you haven’t you really must google her) are both huge inspirations for me. I suppose I don’t think I have one great message that I’m trying to put forth with my photography, other than inviting people to look at this world and have an opinion about it. I know it’s a world I love.
The rich, the famous, the talented, the stylish, the gifted, idiots and other mofos have all crossed in front of your lens, which peeps were your highlights?
I must say generally my highlights are always my friends, the ones I photograph again and again, like Bee Diamondhead and Fumi May. I love their style, maybe it’s because we’re friends and somehow on the same wavelength, but I really love their style. Another highlight are the people who attend the Hyères photography and fashion festival in the south of France. I’ve been attending now for two years and each year I am blown away by the style. Understandably it’s a gathering of people who are very passionate about fashion so great style is to be expected, but still it amazes me
The Mayanas appear to have lied to us, or we misunderstood them, but since we will live longer, what have you got up your sleeve for 2013?
Currently I am working on a print project for Skattie, I first dabbled in that back in 2010, I’m revisiting it on a much larger scale. I am also working on an online market that links back to Skattie. I’m very excited about that project.
You find yourself sitting next to Botswana’s President at a dinner… how do you break the ice?
So..uhmmm…about the cheetah…
Photos: Max Mogale, Diary of Ward