SA’s pair’s custom shoes are redefining sneaker culture and killing conformity

12 September 2018 - 07:00 By Thango Ntwasa
Gent Sibuyi (left) and Thabiso Hadebe (right) at an activation for Black Faff.
Gent Sibuyi (left) and Thabiso Hadebe (right) at an activation for Black Faff.
Image: Supplied.

Earlier this year, Complex magazine noted that sneaker culture had changed considerably. Having grown from an exciting sub-culture into a mundane mainstream activity, sneaker culture has become just another fast fashion trend.

Enter Thabiso Hadebe and Gent Sibuyi, who are killing conformity and redefining sneaker culture through their joint venture, Black Faff. They have been creating customised shoes and apparel since 2011, collaborated with Converse, and designed for local musicians such as Kahn Morbee and international superstars like rap trio Migos.

“The biggest role we play as customising artists is that we are able to give people something unique that allows their sneakers to reflect their personality or their brand,” said Hadebe.

While they have been around for seven years, the duo work hard to get their customers’ attention through activations in stores such as Shesha and by using social media. By eliminating conformity, they are on a mission to promote individuality and normalise wearable art.

“So, combine the two [and] I think you cannot fail when it comes to relevance,” said Sibuyi.

Hadebe and Sibuyi have made Black Faff’s success their full-time hustle – and, as art fans, they implore more young artists to become involved.

“There are so many talented young artists in South Africa who could and should be making a living off their talents,” said Hadebe, adding: “There is no perfect way to go about it, nor is there a system to follow – the journey is always unique to you and your craft, so stick to it.

“And make the most of social media. There are great opportunities online. You just have to find them; sometimes they find you.”

Black Faff custom shoes, shirts and assortments are available at its store in Tembisa or by request on social media – @blackfaff10 on Twitter or Black Faff on Facebook and Instagram, along with information on upcoming exhibitions and other news.