Punk and Ivy: African Sportswear Luxe

 

June 28, 2016


In early 2012, a husband and wife team comprised of Kaya and Bianca Sibiya were consumed by a wild idea: document and articulate life on the African continent through fashion. To create a conversation on urban
life in Africa wouldn’t be easy, but the pair were determined to make something happen. That something turned out to be sportswear brand Punk and Ivy.

At the time of the brand’s inception, Bianca was working as a digital marketing specialist. When she wasn’t at work, her and Kaya were throwing all of their time into mastering the art of bespoke tailoring and producing unique designs. The overtime work paid off and in a matter of months the duo were asked to lend their styling services to various TV commercials for brands as big as Coca-Cola, Standard Bank, and Sab Miller. For the ambitious pair, styling wasn’t meeting their need to create art and articulate the world around them in a creative way. By creating Punk and Ivy, Bianca and Kaya had a platform to showcase their art in a way that captured the attention of their African peers and the world at large.

Bianca and Kaya derived the name Punk and Ivy from a pair of terms that were widely used in Soweto in the late 1960s and 1970s. The slang was used to describe men who dressed in a particular manner. “Punks” were men who leaned toward a more garish and outlandish look. They often donned hard edge street gear and mismatched styles. “Ivys” were highly metrosexual visually. They were clean cut and well groomed, often wearing cleanly pressed stove pipe pants and fresh platform shoes. Punk and Ivy is a melding of those two lifestyles. One in which non-conformity is valued over basic normalcy and looking put together. Bianca and Kay found the name a good representation of their alternative approach to consumer fashion. With designs that capture the present day happenings of a youthful Africa, Punk and Ivy is aiming to be a brand that never feels stagnant or one dimensional.

Punk and Ivy designs are playful, a true marriage of urban street wear and traditional African patterns. Bianca and Kaya play with a variety of fabrics, textures, and leathers to produce designs that are fresh yet have timeless appeal. By incorporating traditional African prints into a sports luxe line of pieces feels refreshing. The designs are androgynous in nature, which the duo decided was an important cornerstone to their brands overall message of being who you want to be and not just what you are. Every item in the line can be worn by both genders in several ways. The goal was to provide an alternative to what one gender or the other is supposed to buy and where they are supposed to buy it. Youth culture has taken a liking to this concept.With original prints, unique cuts, and fabrics suited for every body type and size, Punk and Ivy is a brand that truly plays well with others.

Despite being relatively new, the brand has already been featured in magazines such as Glamour, Elle, Mail, and The Guardian. In addition to receiving a swell of press, the duo launched a one of a kind mobile boutique in 2015 as a way to sell their garments directly to consumers in their home country. The mobile boutique offers a full range of Punk and Ivy products. Known as the Motique (mobile boutique), this type of person to person sale is the first of its kind in Africa. The Motique was built from the skeleton of a 1974 motorhome that Bianca and Kaya spent much of 2013 and 2014 refurbishing into a primary retail space. The Motique boasts a changing room, back office, full merchandising space, leather topped point of sale table, storage, ample mirrors, and a chic urban appeal. Motique is responsible for most of the brands direct sales. Because of this success, the mobile boutique has been rented out for events, TV shoots, and has been making the rounds at various music festivals.

What Kaya and Bianca have done with Punk and Ivy is not only impressive, it’s a great model for other fledgling brands just getting started. Know your audience, tailor yourself to the needs of your country, and keep yourself rooted in the local culture. The label which started in Johannesburg only uses local fabrics and local tailors when developing their goods. They focus heavily on melding who they are and what they’re doing with the environment around them. It will never be easy to define the needs of a culture within a country, but making yourself a part of that culture could very well be even more important.

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