3 Wise Men in Sneaker Culture
- SA is a vibe
- Rolo Rozay
- Vatos Kayde
- Hayden Manuel
.Sneaker Culture in South Africa is unlike anywhere else in the world. We bring to it our own sense of swag, desire and recognition and, frankly, SA is a vibe. From being a barometer of “cool” to wearable signifiers and sometime misnomers of wealth and status, sneakers or takkies are all wrapped up in hip hop, spray can art and cross-Atlantic lifestyle aspiration. Few can call themselves sneaker heads. Some even dislike the term, preferring “purveyors of street culture”. We do, however, know that sneaker culture goes hard on trends and harder on the iconoclast classics, and there is a special obsession reserved for the rare. The Wire introduces you to SA’s proponents of the culture.
Rolo Rozay has commanded the forefront of the sneaker game for decades. Part custodian, part respected figurehead of the local street scene, Rolo is the founder of the Cape Town sneaker shop/event venue/creative space, “Sneaker Cartel”. Here Rolo uses the space as a 3d mood board, showcasing his knowledge and insight in an ever-evolving lifestyle.
For Rolo, born and bred in Bishop Lavis, sneakers are status symbols in the community and one’s choice is something to be taken seriously, almost as a rite of passage. “Growing up, we used to get one pair a year so you had to make sure you were getting the right ones that you could rock all year,” Rolo has noted in interviews before. Despite having a passion for sneakers, Rolo insists that he never considered he could make a reputable career out of it until the arrival of social media and the digital gathering of those who share love for sneakers and streetwear. But Rolo still loves the hustle – find him a secret drop near you.
Kayde’s appearance is an intimidating, ostentatious aesthetic of the West Coast Cholo look, (hence his nom de plume: “Vato”) but this iteration is super-luxe, cast in a curation of luxury street brands. It belies the somewhat serious if reserved demeanor of a sneaker head.
Kayde’s sneaker boutique, La Familia, has soared from humble beginnings and even setbacks (like a robbery that wiped out his stock), to become an iconic location. Since 2014, “La Familia” has collected and consigned the most sought-after street culture grails and luxury goods, providing clientele with the most exclusive and coveted brands. The store sells goods that you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else in the country, from Balenciaga to Off-White, Supreme, Palace, Vetements and Louis Vuitton. La Familia is where rappers go when they need to be drenched in drip for their music videos and it’s also the location for monthly parties when it becomes an intersection for street culture, fashion, music and art.
Hayden Manuel’s life is filled with shoes, music, famous people and travel. This is at least according to his hardcore inspo-lifestyle content. Although he has always loved hip-hop, art and fashion Hayden couldn’t sing, write or draw so he had to find another way to find his creative purpose. Moving along swiftly, Manuel would go on to become a Senior Content Strategist for a leading, Cape Town-based eMarketing agency, and subsequently be regarded as one of South Africa’s leading experts on indigenous street culture. Explaining his current role, Manuel says he is creative director for the PUMA brand which involves driving brand heat, supporting youth culture, identifying key moments and landing key products in the market. This includes adapting the global strategy to fit South Africa without copy-pasting while showing sensitivity to the country’s current cultural tone. All the while growing an enviable sneaker selection.
C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.
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