South African Streetwear 2017

5 brands to keep your eyes and ears on

Words: Ndu Donsa | Images: Supplied

Gone are the days when you could call yourself a streetwear brand by simply having a trill logo, a dope blog and few followers here and there. Nah fam, we're in 2017 and things are very different. The tide has turned and there's a new wave of streetwear brands innovating and disregarding everything you thought you knew.

With that being said...

Welcome to our list of streetwear brands that will rock us in 2017. I chose these brands using the following formula. One: I looked at what makes them unique because imitation within the culture doesn't set you apart. Two: I looked at the building blocks that these brands laid out in 2016 and how this will affect their success in the coming year. My list has purposefully left out the well-known label because I wanted to talk to the future of streetwear and the come-up kids who will be breaking new ground in 2017.

So here's my list of the brands to know. Some of them have buzz, some have had a dope 2016, and some just need to take their rightful place in the culture.

Here we go.


Go to 8 Morrison, a place I like to call the urban culture hub of Durban, and you are bound to see an image of a monkey with a huge smile and blinged-out teeth. In case you were wondering, this is the SMB logo. SMB is the fastest growing brand in Durban based on its output and the support it gets from the people who live there. Sophisticated Monkey Brand will rock us in 2017 for two reasons: it's bringing back the iconic BAPS bucket hat, a hard-to-find style that dominated urban culture in 2014 when every rapper and celebrity had one. Secondly, this brand is calling 2017 the year of the collab, and will be working with other well-known streetwear brands in Mzansi.

“We decided to go back to the one thing that got our name out there as street scientists. The BAPS bucket will be dropping soon and will be doper than ever before. We will also be collaborating with up-and-coming streetwear brands such as Styla Gang.” – SMB


Styla Gang has been on the streets for a minute now. The dudes have always managed to hit the right note with their approach to apparel, and the brand really began to take off in 2016. This was largely due to the GANG GANG range. Playing on Wiz Khalifa’s 'Gang Gang' track, the guys have done well to make it their own and align with people that fit the lifestyle they are portraying. For those that don't know, they've teamed up with artists like Tshego from Family Tree and Emtee from Ambitious Records. Even AKA has been seen rocking merch from the GANG GANG range. You should look out for these guys because the buzz is up there and now it’s time to flood the streets.

"Our GANG GANG range is doing really well. For 2017 we aim to build on this and align with more rappers in SA hip-hop. Watch out, cos we're coming for everyone in the game.” - Styla Gang


Occupying the number three spot is GalxBoy. This brand has made major moves in 2016 with a dope campaign inviting consumers to get to know the label. Ambition, smart decisions and serious risks have contributed to their success, and we'll be watching as the team furthers this in 2017. Their current summer range is refreshing and seriously dope. GalxBoy has already established its reputation and in 2017 we will see the guys owning their story and doing even more. I added them to my list because they have thas the potential to be the leading streetwear brand in the country. They are the OGs of this round-up.

“In 2017 we will focus on diversifying the brand and the product.” – GalxBoy

Youth 95

Youth 95 is a Cape Town streetwear brand that was launched in 2014. The brand is influenced by 90s clothing and what I like about it is how it aims to inspire the youth to follow their dreams. You should look out for this brand because the streets of Cape Town are quietly buzzing about it. The plan for 2017? To push a youthful message in an authentic and 90s-inspired way.

“We have been in the industry for two years and will be in our third year in 2017. We are working on our brand's management and focusing on our potential. Our brand's image needs recognition and that's what we are pushing.” – Youth 95

Upper Echelon

Upper Echelon is well known for their dedication to technical streetwear. You can’t mention technical wear and not think of them. Their 2016 was very impressive – they released an AW 16 range and named A Store as their Cape Town stockist and Dip Street as their retail outlet in JHB. This brand also has the potential to be the streetwear label to know as they have had some nice exposure and it’s time for them to shine.

"We have begun working with a big reputable production house, so in 2017 our aim is to work with more complex and interesting materials and increase our offering of cut and sew products whilst staying true to our outerwear roots. Our focus is geared towards developing wearable and interesting outerwear products, and to push the notion of a balance between form and function. We are announcing an exciting collaboration for 2017 soon as well." – Upper Echelon

So that's my streetwear list for 2017. It’s amazing how the game is growing in South Africa, and I'm excited about the journey these brands are undertaking to win our hearts, minds and, um, wallets. Trust me, 2017 will be their breakthrough year, and if you disagree then hit me up in the comment section to let me know where I'm wrong.

Yours in culture, Skinnygenes_TV