Boogy Maboi gives us a taste of her playful style she shares across the continent
Words: Serisha Letchmiah-Venter | Photography: Chisanga Mubanga
Boogy Maboi spent her early years in front of the camera. As a child on K-TV, the South African kids magazine show à la Micky Mouse Club, style and presence were learned earlier than most. With each presenter being cast to tick the boxes, she was the dynamite that came in a small but vibrant package.
“I developed my personal style back then... Even though we were a family, we had to stand out from each other, and I was the baby of the group.”
“I was playing young on TV and I looked young and dressed younger for a lot longer.”
Influenced by American TV and music she was into both the preppy style and East Coast hip-hop. It was all “nineties fashion, very Puff Daddy, Mase, everything was baggy…into early high school I was dressed in Calvin Klein, Karl Kani and big brands…” and it was all from the thrifting she did with her mum.
Weekends were spent searching for the next brand, or going to new store openings. Hey, it was the nineties; Timberland opening up was a big thing!
It’s this that has formed, what she calls, her Kid-Adult aesthetic.
Borrowed from icons like, Pharrell and Erykah Badu, it’s “that kind of Peter Pan syndrome” where your style grows with you – you don’t grow out if it. It’s always going to be playful and colourful and androgynous.
Platforms of the sneaker variety were not always as welcomed as they are now, but back in the late 90s early 00s there was always one Bravestar who’d rock them regardless of what the peanut gallery had to say. That was Boogy.
“I knew they were out there, and they’re still my vibe”.
“I get bored vey quickly, so I switch my hair up a lot because I feel my hair will decide what type of clothes I’ll wear.” She’s referencing the time she got the Beiber cut – but the braided version. “At the time I was into more masculine clothes, or let’s say, more gender-free clothing.”
“I’m more confident now and my style is an extension of how I feel. Which is why I hate pre-packing or having to travel for long periods of time. I have to wake up and look through my clothes every single day”.
There’s also a little streak of vintage in her look. Give her a double-breasted suit, the slit in the back, or buttons on the side and she’ll be happy.
On the cusp of her thirtieth birthday, nothing has changed. Her playful yet edgy aesthetic has not gone unnoticed, resulting in almost a decade of styling musicians and celebrities from around Africa, under Styled By Boogy.
Boogy had envisaged a career as a brand manager for one of the labels she worshipped but it was a favour, to her rapper boyfriend at the time that set her career path in an unplanned yet likely direction.
“Around 2007/2008 I was styling a boyfriend at the time. I styled his video, which turned out really nice. It was shot at the Night Gallery in Melville, it was kind of the hip spot at the time. And just from the success of that his friends were like: Yo your girl is dope. Could she style me?”
He first official clients were Durban group, Skyrock. You may recognize one of their members as Aewon Wolf who’s having a moment right now. From then she picked up clients like Kuli Chana and JR.
While her styling career was just getting started, she worked at an all-African online radio station called Rhythm 100. Researching music from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and various other countries plunged her into the world of Pan-African pop and street culture.
Dot after dot was connected, exposing more and more of Boogy’s world. She was then head-hunted by Planet Radio TV (now Planet TV), a lifestyle show focusing on East and West African culture, where she hosted her own show.
“This just started making more sense to me. It was more connected with everything else that I did.”
Through her work with a range of artists she’s learned invaluable insights into so-called African fashion.
“It was a learning curve for me. Because the artists that I style, in like East and West Africa, their traditional garment is their day-today swag."
The fashion world has been taken by storm by this one-dimensional African look. So, what advice can she offer?
“Firstly, don’t trust the internet. If you search for African Fashion, the most documented cultures like the Masai or those from South Africa will be the dominant results. What we call African print, may not be a print but rather the fabric itself.”
With that, let’s take a closer look at Boogy’s style, distilled into just four looks. And although at pains to name them, here we are.
LOOK 1 - $H€ (pronounced “She Money”)
“This is the famous Ghanain Kente wrap dress, it was gifted to me by a friend. I’ve never worn it before but the wrap element speaks to the vintage styling I like. The accessories are Ndebele. My mum is half Swati half Ndebele, so this makes me feel royal and like a queen. I’m African, but current and so now.”
LOOK 2 – Afro Samuri
“I’m wearing a custom made kimono by my friend and fine artist, Mandisi Lean. I’m obsessed with his work, and this is from his Wu collection where everything is hand painted.”
“My style is also very Asian-inspired, if I could I would be a Harajuku Girl but it’s too late for me.”
LOOK 3 – Power Ranger #6
“Made by Moon (Moonchild). I’ve been going through a one-piece phase for a while, and she let’s me go crazy when I request stuff. This is my playful side, wearing a raincoat with a onesie – it’s like my superhero suit! Just Boogy at play.”
On a side note: In the My Aesthetic feature on DJ Doowap, Kay also had a Power Ranger suit made by Moonchild. Boogy didn’t realize this, but then remembered this was actually made in her apartment. I guess if you’re looking to unleash the ranger in you, Moon is the one to make it happen.
LOOK 4 – Superstar 85
“I had to include this because I’ve never seen anyone else with this dress. So, for me it’s my ultimate street wear showstopper look, and I’m all about street wear. The adidas Superstar is my shoe, so every time I hear there’s a new one I buy it. The look is cool, it’s a vintage throwback.
As much as she loves those classic international brands she’s coveted since she developed her sense of style, she is serious about local designers. Her new project Style Lab offers her clients exclusive and private access to international and local brands.
What’s next for Boogy Maboi? Isn’t it obvious? She’s already been working on her clothing line called $H€, the namesake of her first look.
If you’re someone who still calls rap, hip-hop and R&B “urban music” you’ve most likely missed a lot of her work. So, for your reference she’s left her mark working with some of South Africa’s most successful and rising artists like: AKA, Reason, Nomuzi Mabena, Nonku Phiri, and also calls corporates like MTV Base and Sony Music Africa clients.
With no website to advertise her work, just her personal Instagram and Tumblr accounts going for her, it’s a referrals game for the Joburg native. Styling some of the continent’s biggest superstars, like Nigeria’s WizKid, Don Jazzy and Sarkodi. And again, if these names aren’t familiar, I suggest you make better use of YouTube and get to know these artists making serious waves on the global music scene.