Subverting cultural appropriation, one slogan t-shirt at a time

30 November 2017 - 12:50 By Marcia Elizabeth
'No justice, no peace' long sleeve t-shirt by Jungli.
'No justice, no peace' long sleeve t-shirt by Jungli.
Image: Supplied

Officially launched on Instagram in September, Jungli is run by Leila Khan and La'eeqa Mosamin in Cape Town.

With hand-made products from tassel earrings to coin chokers, T-shirts and bright yellow sweatshirts bearing slogans such as "No to apartheid", the brand has a powerful message.

The launch of Jungli required almost a year of planning and design experimentation. It began as a side hustle to earn money. They'd witnessed multiple white-owned businesses profiting off culturally appropriated jewellery and T-shirts printed with white feminist slogans as well as slogans appropriated from black women.

"We thought we might as well be the ones to make money from designs and fabrics derived from our own cultures and give people the option to buy less problematic T-shirts with strong political statements," they say.

Before joining forces the duo designed and created jewellery in their private capacities as hobbyists.

Currently studying law, they've expanded their craft with their Jungli collaboration. Khan expresses her creativity in drawing, painting and print making - skills she's built on since school and later at the Peter Clarke Art Centre, and continues to teach herself.

Jungli is an Urdu/Hindi word containing multiple meanings.

"We got the idea from La'eeqa's grandmother, who used to tease her as a child by calling her 'jungli', meaning 'wild'," says Mosamin. "This word was also used in colonial rhetoric to refer to people from the subcontinent as 'barbarians' or 'savages'.

For example, the Oxford Dictionary illustrates the definition of jungli using the quote: 'The East India Company decided that it could not allow its employees to go jungli, native.'

It also lists 'primitive, uncivilised, uncultured, uncultivated, uneducated, ignorant' as synonyms. We are attempting to subvert this meaning by calling ourselves Jungli."

They have received a lot of support for their joint venture. There's been quite some interest in their ''No justice, no peace" T-shirt. "It's great because it shows that people rally behind and identify with this message," they say.

Coin chokers by Jungli.
Coin chokers by Jungli.
Image: Supplied

Jungli's eye-catching Instagram profile contains striking, well-curated film and digital camera images. Their messages spread far wider than youth culture captured in an intimate frame.

Khan and Mosamin look forward to creating more T-shirt designs aimed at challenging complacency within the wearer's relationship to fashion. They want to emphasise mental health in the brand's upcoming designs.

"Generally, we want to keep making nice things for people to wear at more affordable prices," they say.

Keep a look out for what they have in store for you. -

This article was originally published in The Times.