Fri. Sep 18th, 2020

Sol Sol: A South African streetwear stalwart

Sol Sol is a formidable local streetwear brand. We spoke with Mathew Keiser to find out all about the brand.

sol sol a south african streetwear stalwart - Sol Sol: A South African streetwear stalwart

Sol Sol is a South African streetwear brand which has contributed to the South African fashion industry in a way that is lasting and responsible. In doing that, they’ve moved with the times. We spoke to Mathew Keiser to find out more about the brand.

Looking back at Sol Sol’s beginnings, what would you say the value of the blog is today?

The blog was my brothers and best friends that  they were doing while living in Seoul for around 6 years. They stopped it a couple of years ago and now both live in Cape Town.

When last did you visit Seoul and does it still play a role in inspiring your works today?

I actually haven’t been to Seoul for around 4 years. It’s such a great city and definitely inspired what we do but I wouldn’t say any more or any less so than any other city I’ve been to, both locally and abroad. 

I think you take a little bit from each place you visit, little memories that stick out whether it be fashion or  retail, food or drink. 

Where have you traveled to lately that moved you?

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Photo: Provided.

I was in Girona earlier this year and  that really  just  got me wanting to  retire into some old town somewhere just making coffee and sandwhiches all day.

The phrase “Destroy Today” has played an important role in your collections. When you put on a piece, those affirmations can translate into positivity and productivity. 

Yeah that’s exactly it, its supposed to be positive. A type of  modern-day Carpe Diem. There are obviously people who see it and immediately think its negative but that’s fine. There are so many slogans walking around nowadays. I’m not too phased – it’s cool though, we often have people message us or send us photos of them wearing a jacket or tee with the slogan in preparation for a big day ahead or a big task.

Is that the goal and does this still speak to the brand’s ethos?

Yeah it still means today what its always meant. People are still hyped on it and as above it really means a lot to some people which  is really cool and also quite unexpected.

Then when we did the Levi’s collab we knew we had to throw it in. They were also keen for us to have it in as it is such a big part of our identity.

You’ve mentioned your love for the manufacturing process. Not many share that sentiment, especially with the state of the CMT industry South Africa (like when you started and the production went wrong – it’s unfortunately a common occurrence). People are greatly appreciative though, of the fact that you locally produce, and that you invest so much time into, and love each part of the process of having a garment made. Can you expand on this?

I mean yeah you can spend so much effort and time in design and marketing but if your production and quality doesn’t live up to those standards then you’re going to have a problem, people won’t trust what you tell them. We do product about 90% of our goods locally in a family owned factory here in Cape Town. They are fantastic with a really keen eye for detail which makes our life so much easier. They have a cool operation and its always a pleasure getting to hang out there.

Can you share something you wish people knew about the process? 

In having everything locally made, I’m not too sure. Possibly just that whatever you are wearing passes through so many different peoples hands. That always blows my mind. People often take that for granted, they don’t know how many hands it took to create that piece of clothing. Its not something people who aren’t in the industry should know… It just always blows my mind a bit.

You once said you hope for Sol Sol to grow organically and for the technicality of the garments to increase. That has come to fruition, with your brand being referenced as ‘smart streetwear.’ Is the mohair and merino wool from your recent (absolutely fire) knitwear collection locally sourced too?

That is all completely sourced locally from a mill in the Eastern Cape and then weaved up here in Cape Town. This was a really cool and new area for us to get into. Unfortuantley from the wool to manufacturing its an extremely expensive process making for a very expensive garment. We ended up selling that collection exclusively overseas.

What are some of these details in your latest collections?

Our latest collection which we are showing this weekend is a combination of what we always have been which is easy-to-wear streetwear and then a mix of some new tailored pieces; it might even be a bit preppy. It’s always a fine line between staying true to yourself and your brand but then also always being able to offer something new…

Do you have new hopes for the growth and future of Sol Sol?

Yeah I want to keep doing what we are doing. Have bigger ranges with more products. Sell more pieces, do more collaborations and then also grow internationally more. We have a showroom in Milan from next year which we are excited about!

What advice would you give men who are looking to update their wardrobes?

I think best advice is to just wear what fits and what you feel comfortable in. Its easier to spot someone who looks uncomfortable than it is to spot someone with ‘bad style’. Secondly, if you are looking for inspiration online, find photos of someone who looks and possibly has the same body type as you. I’ve been trying for years to dress like an 80 year old Japanese designer and I’ve only now, finally, given up.

Your latest collection serves the best of the trends which we’ll likely see in the upcoming season, like the rugby jersey and the understated utility look. It’s very on point and also very true to Sol Sol’s roots in basics. In this way, you are evolving your offering in line with what Sol Sol is known for, but still having freedom to incorporate more colours and references to subcultures with your offering...

Yeah as mentioned previously its always difficult to try and stay true to what you do but then also offer something new and get out of our own comfort zone. It’s just about trying it and seeing if it feels right. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t!

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Photo: Provided.

Something we’re seeing in the fashion industry is the move towards more grown up streetwear, where tailoring, for instance, is becoming key. Sol Sol is known for its fit, fabric and design

Yeah there is a move to that which a lot of the OG guys don’t care for really. But yeah we are just doing what feels comfortable for us. We make what we want to and try not look to hard at what the current state of trends are as that is a really tricky road to try follow as it changes daily. I also find you cant really create you own brand if you are constantly following trends.

Is this a movement you are appreciative of? 

Yeah I mean it is what we’ve always done, our first collection had caps and hoodies, but also shirts and an overcoat. So we are happy. I think everyone is quite confused about the state of streetwear is right now, if it is actually anything or if everything has kind of just amalgamated into one look. I guess only time will tell, everything just happens so fast nowadays, it’s hard to keep up.

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