Lace Your Kicks Up and March Forward : #DurbanisOurs

Sneakers remain our preferred combat boots as we march onward for individual freedom, expression and to make a statement for the culture – a #DurbanisOurs submission by Sihle Makalima.



I came across a bio on twitter not so long ago that said something along the lines of, “People judge you by the clothes you wear.” No lie detected here, I thought. I got tempted to copy the line and paste it into the Google search box, as I always do with words I find interesting and shit. Actually, I didn’t find this line interesting, I was just secretly hoping that it was taken from a longer, more in-depth quote or something, that I could find interesting. I didn’t find an original quote, however, I found a shitload of quotes about how ridiculous and nonsensical the idea of judging people by their apparel is. So it is true… People do judge you by the clothes you wear, otherwise, there wouldn’t be so much noise about it.


“Reebok baby you need to try some new things/Have you ever had shoes without shoe strings?”


In our everyday life, the significance of your outfit varies with the occasion you are dressing for. There are times and spaces where you can’t just wear whatever you feel like, due to rules or perceptions or the fear of being judged or you name it. It’s a social construct that goes back ages and it’s annoyingly uncomfortable – the fact that what you wear has to be determined by people who don’t know a single thing about you! Yet it still happens every day. Even with all these reasons, the youth will always find new, creative and maybe eccentrically cool ways of being comfortable in their own skin while maintaining an appeasing image. For as long as I’ve been alive, hip-hop has been playing more than a major role in fashion influences synonymous with young people.


The fashion industry is run by fads, especially pop culture fads, that’s safe to say I think. Meaning that a certain someone from somewhere, who is considered cool, likes something and finds it cool, tells the world about it and boom! You get the picture. Now some of us are not as engrossed into the pop scene as much as most of our counterparts, but even so, it is impossible to ignore the influence it has on the way we view fashion. As a hip-hop head (if anyone still uses the term), I often transpose and compare pop culture trends with hip-hop culture trends whenever something new comes up, it just happens automatically. Sure we do fall victim to popular trends every now and then, but one thing can be said about the hip-hop culture: we know our footwear.


Footwear sounds wrong, no, too formal and general. What I mean to say is that we own the kick game, or sneaker game, for familiarity. I remember when I was growing up, if you saw someone rocking high tops in the streets, or anywhere for that matter, the first thing that came to mind was, if he’s not a rapper he’s a krumper or a b-boy. If you are from more urbanized areas, you could make a sound argument about basketball as well, but to most of us, basketball was introduced through hip-hop. The point is, for a long time, teens and young adults alike looked at sneakers and saw a cultural reference that stemmed from different branches of the same tree: hip-hop.


Hip-hop is seen as a home to a plethora of complex identities and personalities that define our generation. It is within these spaces that cries for individual expression arise, giving onlookers something to talk about. Seeing someone walk down the streets sporting intricate and colourfully designed footwear will often surely give you an impression of a kid who does not give a fuck. An attitude (wrongfully) judged as negative by some party poopers, but within the realm, it’s merely an act of expression.


“And just for kicks make ’em gel like ASICS”


Today, what was merely a fitness shoe five decades ago has risen to the status of a cult fashion item. More than the nods and daps of respekk you receive for rocking the freshest kicks, there are real, real advantages of wearing sneakers within the culture. Aside from lightweight properties, there is comfort, which you need a lot of if you are a performer, they provide the support for your feet protecting you from injuries that may come from the spectacular but strenuous moves you pull on stage. You can crawl, walk, run, twist, bend and jump without worrying about anything but the art you’re performing while wearing sneakers, because THEY ARE STABLE AND FLEXIBLE! I wrote that in Samuel L Jackson’s voice, sorry.


That’s right ladies and gentlemen, they allow you to breathe. Yes, breathe. Especially if you are not performing, but just enjoying the party. Some sneakers are made with breathable materials, such as mesh. The properties of these materials allow air to pass through and share a breath with your feet. You know what happens when you are at an event or clubbing somewhere for long hours enjoying the vibe, the pressure from your body descends down to your and they get hot as hell, and they can’t breathe. When they can’t breathe, they sweat and your shoes end up with a nasty smell and ugh.


“Shoes on the coupe, bitch I got a Nike shop/Counts the profits you could bring ’em in a Nike box/Grinding in my Jordans kick ’em off they might be hot”


From the street soldiers of the culture to the academic soldiers of this generation that took it back to the streets with their sneakers laced up, and ready to run, – keep in mind that had it not been for the sneakers, thousands of students would have been injured or worse by the bullets and beatings from ruthless cops during the infamous #FeesMustFall protests – to office rebels who’d pick a pair of Vans canvas over ice-solid, pinchy formal shoes on any given Sunday, sneakers remain our preferred combat boots as we march onwards, for individual freedom, expression and to make a statement, for the culture.

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