Afro Punk

Check out Phendu Kuta’s rebellious rendition of a riff we’ve heard before

Stylist: Phendu KutaPhotography: Obakeng Molepe

Forget flower crowns – this particular festival look calls for afros, dreadlocks and turbans. But more than simply dressing beautifully, the afro punk aesthetic is about an energy, confidence, and a sense of self that refuses to be whitewashed. After all, punk has always been an attitude. This interpretation is louder, bolder and goes in harder than ever before.

“It’s about incorporating an Afrocentric look in an edgy way,” explains Phendu Kuta, the artist responsible for this feature. “I wanted to celebrate African culture in an alternative way. Locally I was inspired by artists like Moonchild and Okmalumkoolkat, musicians whose music correlates with a much more future-forward outlook. Internationally? I suppose Solange was pushing it in her earlier days. Now she’s more high fashion. But starting out she was a lot more street and pushed this afro-futurism thing.”

A bulletproof festival outfit should double up as something of a survival kit. Especially if you’re actually going to be wearing it to a festival. With that in mind, piece together items that have endurance – the last thing you want is to have to worry about your shoes getting muddy or having something precious ruined in the pit. It’s simple, once you put something on, it’s on, and if you’re thinking about it while you’re wearing it then it means you’re not having enough fun.

“There definitely has to be an element of comfort,” adds Phendu. “When I put together these outfits I wanted to create looks that were fresh and edgy. Something new. Something modern. So I used silhouettes that are in. Skinny jeans just aren’t relevant right now. But boyfriend jeans, little shorts and dungarees are such an obvious choice.”

Okay, so denim goes without saying – after all, you need a fabric that can stand up to anything. And if your outer layer comes ready-ripped it then allows you to approach any obstacle that stands in your way. Because ain't nobody got time to worry about scuffed knees. Scarves are crucial, and keep the sun off, the cold out... and you can even tie it around your head before you go Rambo. Then sunglasses hide your eyes, along with your intentions, because you don’t ever want to give too much away. Prints are a huge part of this style and Phendu’s done well to pull the freshest. The accessory of choice is the fringed bag, which is crucial for keeping all of your supplies without succumbing to bulging pockets and overly-occupied hands.

Punk has always had a DIY approach, so what tips does Phendu have for those of us with small budgets but some time and creativity to spare?

“Well firstly there’s the face paint,” says Phendu. “Those dots and stripes and things are really easy to create. If you have a bit more time, then there’s so much you can do with denim. Bleaching, adding badges, patches, rips and tears… It’s really up to the individual and how far you’d like to take it. Whether you want to turn a pair of jeans into shorts or a jacket into a skirt. It’s all possible.”

Ultimately the afro punk look is about having fun and expressing yourself. Denim is a staple, a basic, and Phendu’s afro punk look is a much more individualistic approach that’s all about standing out, being different and rebelling against the norm. Hey, ho, let’s go!

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