Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Five Items Not Readily Available In S.A.

I have always loved Nike's Air Force One's. I recall a spread in SLAM magazine, back in the late 90s, that chronicled the evolution and rise of Nike's basketball trainers. At the time I was hip to Air Force One's, even though they weren't readily available in South Africa. This was in 1997. My recollection is vivid because at the time a young and tractible Rasheed Wallace, a rookie with the then Washington Bullets, adorned his feet in the shoes. In my view, he brought them back to prominence and mainstream acceptance. Today, Air Force One's are the quintessential shoe of hip-hop artists. All the way in South Africa, I yearned for a pair of Force's, but they were nowhere to be found. Until 7 years later, in 2003, they debuted in S.A. My love of Force's had not waned, so I went out a got myself a pair. The high model, in all white with a blue sole, complete with a velcro strap. As I've alluded before, in South Africa we lag behind in a myriad of trends, fashonsand styles. What may be current to us is most probably so two or three seasons ago to the rest of the world. It's frustrating at times. I was thinking about this list, of items pertaining to men's style and dress, I wish were readily available but are not. Not that the funds to acquire them are available. However the guarantee that they are readily available would be most comforting. Especially at a time when the funds are abundant.

1. Quilted Jacket

I see myself incorporating a quilted jacket into my autumn wardrobe with ease. However not even major clothing retail outlets have caught on. I've heard and seen so much of the Barbour quilted jacket that I wish Stone Harbour could come out with their own version. It is a garment I could carry with effortless aplomb. I surmise because it isn't trendy or fashionable, that is why it hasn't caught on to the mainstream market. But then again even if it were available I don't think the mainstream would be aware of its value.

2. Mackintosh Coat

I have searched everywhere, in Durban, for a mackintosh, to no avail. To me it seems like the simpler in design it is, the more elusive it's bound to be. Visit any men's clothing store and you will find trench coats, 3/4 long coats, double breasted coats, etc. The one coat conspicuous by absence is a mackintosh. Even my favourite coat and thrift stores don't carry it. I have not given up, however, I wonder why though it hasn't hit our shores in a mainstream kind of way.

3. Shoe Trees

Not even exclusively, high end shoe stores sell their shoes inclusive of shoe trees. Maybe it's a way to get people to keep coming back to buy shoes as opposed to them taking care of their shoes for a long time. That's just conjecture by the way. I wouldn't know why shoe trees are not available in S.A, but it is frustrating that such a seemingly simple item, pertinent to shoe care is virutally unknown. I've even tried an internet search and that turned up nothing. I'll leave it to you to guess what measures I have employed in order to preserve the shape of my shoes.

4.  Velvet Slippers

Maybe the quirkiness of this shoe lends itself to an esoteric consumer. I used to think velvet slippers were for a particular kind of gentleman, however, after witnessing a plethora of aesthetics the slippers have been applied to, I am more than convinced that this shoe is for the style conscious gent. It's nothing short of impressive how velvet slippers can go from formal to casual wear in an instant. I once saw, when I was in Johannesburg, what resembled velvet slippers, complete with the skull and bones motif on the upper. Alas, they were in satin, and therefore were not the authentic thing. Needless to say, before they go mainstream, I expect our fine men's stores to get with the programme.

5. Galoshes

This week has evinced 3 days and nights of torrential rain. Now, how do you keep the rain off and out of your shoes? You use rubber covers or overshoes called galoshes. They seem like a sure fire way to keep your shoes dry. Now rubber boots, Wellingtons, etc, may be prevalent, but their low cut cousins are nowhere to be found. And, there is a definite practicality to them, those cracks to the leather brought on by water seepage can be avoided by wearing galoshes thus protecting and preserving your shoes for a longer period. South Africa is a country full of innovative individuals, I'm surprised no one has come out with make shift galoshes fashioned from gum boots.

I think it's important to note that what also precludes me from such acquisitions is the rate of foreign exchange between the South African rand and other major currencies, specifically the dollar and pound. Therefore purchasing on the internet is just as much a futile exercise as when I traverse the streets searching for them.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.



Florida_Butch said...

I think I know how perplexed you feel.

Having spent my childhood living in Manhattan, none of these items were in short supply. Nothing's in short supply in NYC, from the classiest to the tackiest.

Now that I'm living in Florida... I'm faced with another reality. After about a decade in my new "home state", I still find myself reeling, at times, from the the cultural differences. Galoshes (when/where I was growing up) were ubiquitious. Now? Where I live? Unheard of. -__-

Personally, I end up giving family in New York the money to ship me what I'm looking for, if I can't find it online. I'm talking about everything from Haitian conditioners for my "African-heritage" hair to collar bars.

Do you live in a major city in SA? If not, can you find a way to shop in a larger city?

Mxolisi Ngonelo said...


Yes, I live in the 3rd largest and industrialised city in S.A. But things are very slow. In fact people from Johannesburg and Cape Town like the idea of Durban being laid-back. This lends extra credence to the nickname 'South Africa's Playground'. There's definitely a way to shop in the aforementioned cities. However a caveat, men's clothes are insanely expensive in S.A.

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