Makhosonke “Castro” Nkosi styles himself in three looks that define him
Words: Dylan Muhlenberg | Photographs: Andile Phewa
Makhosonke Nkosi is a clothing designer, stylist and founder of Straatmate who was born in Nelspruit, grew up in the East Rand of Johannesburg and is known as Castro in the downtown Johannesburg streets.
29-years-old and he's still teaching himself new tricks; at the time of interview Castro is busy learning to screen-print in order to incorporate this craft into his future designs.
A fan of streetwear who prefers functionality to swag, Castro grew up inspired by European and American style, but now feels that as a country we are in a better place and he’s excited to see our fashion grow into itself.
“I would say our style game has matured. I reckon we are all owning our expression and coming into ourselves stylistically. I say this based on my observations of what our local brands and designers are producing and how some of my style icons are dressing. We don’t seem to be looking outward anymore for inspiration. There is a burgeoning desire to create and present ourselves with originality and authenticity on an international scale.”
Asked to name the people who he thinks are killing it in the local scene, Castro lists Johannesburg’s king of sourcing Carlo Gambino, Beautiful Boys director Lazi Greiispaces, curator and art director Manthe Ribane, co-owner of Poolside in Maboneng and house DJ Warren Bokwe, producer at Lampost, travel enthusiast and Johannesburg sweetheart Kitsi Sebati and one of Johannesburg's official street cats, the store assistant at ShelfLife in Johannesburg, Spike Jones.
And while that's a good list to steal some style from, what about the brands who are pushing things on the fashion front up north?
“Punk & Ivy, Beautiful Boys, BAP$, Dead, Straatmate, DopestoreJHB, Bushkoppies, Missshape, Unicornz and Simon Deporres. The brands I support are all local brands owned by people I know and have inspired me over the years to create beautiful works of my own. I need to maintain a certain standard to stay relevant amongst these peers. So I look forward to seeing what they'll be producing in the years to come, as these brands influence major pockets of the scene in terms of streetwear, fashion, art, lifestyle and creative entrepreneurs in the country.”
The Way of Us asked Castro to show and then tell, and he styled himself in three everyday looks, which he's unpacked here:
"I feel like this look works better for a relaxed day and not too much running around (hence the adidas Originals sliders). It could also work for a chilled night at a pub or dinner with mates. I enjoy the simplicity of the outfit and how it seamlessly transitions from day to night."
"So this is a multifunctional look that is, most importantly, comfortable. I'd most likely rock this going out with the homies or chilling around the block at our local cafes. It's a look that screams that I need to do laundry, and I'm wearing a Champion sweater I’ve had since high school."
MMM: Money Making Mitch
"This is what I sport when I have a day filled with running errands. Whether I'm sourcing clothes for my styling gigs or hunting down materials in hidden corners of the city, the idea is to be comfortable."
Castro is a man who likes to keep life simple and learn from his personal experiences, which is why he's looking to quit the bad habit he’s had in the past of putting more time into other people’s projects, while neglecting his own.
“Getting out of bed and promising myself to be the best I can be, for myself, and to follow through on all my ideas and aspirations, that's the best decision I've ever made. And shout-out to all the difficult people I've met who have helped me realize the person I do not want to be.”
Currently working on a new capsule collection for Straatmate, Castro has promised himself that this will be the year that he finally travels the world.
“I have to work harder and create more opportunities and be disciplined in order for me to achieve my goals.”
Sounds good to us, but we still have one more question: how do you keep your beard looking so fresh?
“Steaming once or twice a week really helps prevent and relieve any ingrown hairs. Then after having a shower I treat it with some beard oil or beard wax and comb. With more folks getting into beards the products aren’t hard to find.”