Average reading time: 5 minutes.
Andile Dlamini, infamously known as Ace or @Originalkaapstaadpantsula on Instagram, is the creative director and head of design of local brand, BROKE. Clothing has been described as his love language and the medium through which he builds community, exemplifying the world in which he and his entourage wish to live. What started as a tight-knit crew has extended to the many people across South Africa that make up the whole BROKE collective. BROKE is about taking negative concepts and turning them into positive ones, while combining elements from the past and the present – giving the youth its own definition of the current. And if you’ve been anywhere near the creative scene in Cape Town for the last few years, you’ll know that @wear_broke has been dominating – from launching their fully-fledged streetwear label to music and events alongside incredible campaigns and editorials.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? What made you decide to start BROKE?
In 2016, during my second year in varsity, my friends and I used to go out to parties. Most of us stayed a bit far from the city and we would take trains and/or buses to get to town just so we can be in/around the creative scene. This was always something that was looked down upon where we came from. We would always be moving around on a tight, shoe-string budget – I’m talking about R1 shots at BOB’s bar – and would catch the first train out of the city back home at 6:15 am as we couldn’t afford to take an Uber at that time.
Based on our experiences, and our constant effort to make the most out of the little we had, we thought what better than to name ourselves and our movement the “Broke Boys.” We always tried to enjoy our life and make the most from the little that we had. We started moving under this name, and printed tees and hoodies using it. Our first offering was the famous bootleg tees “The amazing world of Broke Boys” and from there, we started hosting our own parties for our tribe and we started growing.
What has been the biggest positive influence on your work? How has it impacted you?
The biggest influence on my work is my friends, and the life that we live. I always say that what we do is based on real-life experiences and the challenges that we face. The ups and downs make me who I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way – just being in a position where I am able to watch and experience my brothers go after what they want is what keeps me going.
What has been the highlight of your creative career so far? What made it the highlight for you?
Relaunching BROKE at the end of 2020 has been the highlight of my life. When we decided to discontinue the brand in 2017, I thought that was it. As much as we still had the dream to someday get it to where we are at now, so much had to happen before we could relaunch. Being able to stand in front of everyone who came to celebrate with us on the 4th of December at our relaunch was surreal. That moment was the highlight of my creative career – so far.
What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced so far? How did you make it through?
I think the biggest challenge for most black creatives, including myself, will always be financial support. Most of us come from backgrounds where our parents wanted us to pursue careers in which we would become accountants, engineers, doctors, etc. and so they never considered financially investing in our creative careers.
We have faced this challenge by spending most of our time during lockdown trying to come up with ways to build up a powerhouse that can sustain itself – I’m talking fashion, music, events, and other ways that can generate money into our business.
The time has come for you to launch BROKE’s official collection. You’ve created an entire sold-out BROKE experience around it — including a runway show, a pop-up store for people to buy pieces, and of course an after party, all in the same building. What do you hope people take from this experience?
More than anything, we have always aimed at creating an entire experience. We have always wanted to give people more than just a launch or a party. We believe that if you give people an experience, they will not forget you.
We’ve put a lot of effort into this day. In doing so, we wish to create a solid path for those who will come after us. We want this to be a solid reference point for anyone who might want to follow in our footsteps. We want people to walk away from this night knowing that the future is BROKE.
What does the future look like for BROKE?
All I can say about the future is that there is more coming. We are going to need a bigger pipeline. There’s more we still plan to do, not just for the city but for the world.