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Discover how Sabelo Shabalala is pioneering a new, modern aesthetic for luxury streetwear in South Africa.

Sabelo Shabalala’s brand Richmanskyf, is inspired by the city of its origin, Durban, and its people, amplifying its identity while pioneering a new, modern aesthetic that walks the thin line between runway chic and luxury streetwear. For Sabelo, streetwear is about more than just fashion; it is a culture and a movement, something he wants nothing more than to be part of.

How have your heritage and your up bringing in the Eastern Cape influenced your design?

I come from two different places and the cultures are much different, but we’re all in SA so obviously there’s similarities too. But I feel they’re different in terms of the culture and the ways of thinking. In terms of clothing lines, I get to draw inspiration and source from different cultures which gives me that advantage in a way.

The Eastern Cape is more of a rural area, so you’re not exposed to a lot of things at all. The place I come from in the Eastern Cape is a small town, whereas Durban is a big city. By seeing things differently, and opportunities that things that wouldn’t work there e.g., starting up a clothing line and getting it at the level it is now isn’t a possibility where I come from; so, coming from there to here broadens everything, I saw different opportunities rather than going a more conventional route like doing a corporate job. So, the chances, the possibilities.

How is your brand inspired by Durban and its people?

I feel a lot of SA street culture, a lot of pioneers are from here and that alone is a big inspiration to venture into this thing. A lot of pioneers in the industry are from Durban. A lot of inspiration started off in Durban in the black community so the attitude is very proud & unapologetic. Artists here are very unapologetic so that’s where I draw most of my inspiration from. People here dress very different. You can tell a Durban person even in another city like Johannesburg just from their dress code.

What’s your vision for RICHMANSKYF?

In the long run, I really would like to see it be established on a global scale. Being the first SA streetwear brand, being on the same level and being able to be in the same conversation as brands like CASABLANCA, Off-White, Wales Bonner.

Your brand uses sustainable materials; all RICHMANSKYF fabrics are sourced locally from wholesalers. Local is a focal point of importance – why is this?

For obvious reasons: supporting other businesses. But it’s much, much easier for us to operate that way rather than importing fabrics. For example, at times like now with COVID it’s hard to control stuff if you’re importing it, that’ll be very hard. We like supporting our own fabric stores, fabric stores we’ve been using for years order stuff specifically for us and work with us and build with us.

It is very important to give support to your local community. At the same time, we support other businesses but we expect the same community to support us. We use materials from big or small wholesalers in Durban and we sell back to the same community so it works hand in hand.

What distinct challenges do South African designers face?

There are a number of challenges. There’s a lot of great artists but it’s difficult to know how to market and get your work out there. Starting off is also usually easier than actually maintaining it.

What are your goals with the Chivas collaboration? And what has been your biggest highlight with Chivas and your career?

The art of collaboration & getting out of my shell. Broadening the way I approach a few things for example, and collaborating with people from Joburg and Cape Town; there’s a lot to learn.

What has been your favourite part of this process?

While building the collection I’ve enjoyed sharing ideas with the team, seeing everyone’s perspective on things and blending everything together.

What has stood out for you so far throughout Chivas Venture?

What stood out for me the most during this whole campaign so far is getting the chance to connect with other creatives that I genuinely admire and look up to.

What does the capsule collection mean to you?

It feels the beginning to much greater things to come in the future.

Sabelo’s devotion to streetwear and the culture earned him a seat at the table with 3 other apprentices for Chivas Venture’s A-Grade capsule collection and with such a rich, authentic brand, there’s no doubt that his contribution to the collection will be a distinct one.


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