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How this style star made taxi rank fashion go viral

Combining the traditional with the modern, marketing maestro Bafana Mthembu has created an enviable look

28 June 2022 - 13:00
Viral sensation Bafana Mthembu.
Viral sensation Bafana Mthembu.
Image: Tshepo Rancho

The style of Amabhinca might sound foreign to many but it is a look you would have no doubt come across. From the sandals, to the Brentwood apparel, lovers of the style can be found in corporate spaces, night clubs or in the case of DNA Brand Architects' senior creative strategist Bafana Mthembu, it can be found at taxi ranks.

The young Soweto-born marketing maestro grew up commuting to and from a number of taxi ranks where he would fall in love with a style that promotes a sense of relaxed sophistication. With many style items being pricey, it took Mthembu years before he could sink his teeth into the subculture he held in high regard.

“I had a couple of Brentwood's in my closet and I always loved how the Amabhinca guys showcased their clothing,” Mthembu said on what sparked the idea to make the videos. “I wanted to celebrate the subculture of Amabhinca and show people that you can have many different styles.”

Mthembu's unique approach to the style is also reflected in his views of being a “top notch inkabi”, a term that refers to hitmen. Mthembu's definition becomes an acronym Noth Kings and Bree Icons.

Not only does he reimagine the name but he also makes changes to symbolic pieces such as the guns of other men who are fans of the Amabhinca style. In his earlier videos, he showcased the style by replacing a gun with a remote control but personalised it by replacing it with his favourite colognes.

I was trying to change the perception that people who dress like this all own guns but for me my gun is how I smell.”

With a number of his videos existing on multiple social media platforms, Mthembu has experienced backlash. He landed in hot water at how he pronounced certain words which opened his eyes to the existing tribalism between Zulu people in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg. He was also criticised for including imphepho (incense) in one of his videos. 

However, Mthembu took it as a learning curve that reconnected him to his culture.

It has been a way for me to learn more about my culture. There are certain things I thought I was informed about but I was not and it’s not just me but other people. There’s a huge barrier in language where people say they are from a certain region and that’s how Zulu sounds and this tribalism divides people instead of being one community. It’s not fair because we are all here to learn and no-one stops learning.”

Mthembu advises other content creators to feel free to explore different ways to express themselves as he would never have guessed people on TikTok, Instagram or Twitter would appreciate his styling videos. While he is shy about being in the spotlight, Mthembu is looking forward to working with other brands that align with the style.

THREE MUST-HAVE ITEMS TO ROCK AMABHINCA STYLE:

1. BRENTWOOD TROUSERS

You don't start small with this style, you have to kick it off big. So you will need to have Brentwood pants. They are a must when it comes to dressing in this style. It's your statement piece.

2. T-SHIRTS

Mix it up with different brand names such as Johnathan D and Lacoste, not that the subculture has started enjoying dressing them. Some of them are not my style so I go for ones I can wear with other things.

3. SHOES

You will be fine with Omega Sandals and for closed shoes look at Carvella.


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