Puma x Daniel Ting Chong = Appropriation?

Daniel Ting Chong is a Cape Town-based designer and illustrator. This month, he unveiled his collaboration with Puma at one launch event in Cape Town and another in Johannesburg. Ting Chong, who was tasked with breathing new life into two sneaker designs, the Duplex Evo as well as the Duplex OG, is no stranger to working with Puma.  He tells me: “I’ve worked with Puma before but not on such a large scale. It’s super scary.” “This is probably the biggest project I’ve done. You know how many sneakerheads there are out there and they all have their reviews. Besides that, I know this is a shoe collab but it’s more than that for me. This is for everyone. For South Africa. Like, putting us on the map in some way.” As the collab press release explains: “Chong’s design of the earthy hued Duplex OG was inspired by Unkulunkulu, the Supreme Creator in traditional Zulu culture.” And, it further explains: “The second sneaker in the collection is the Duplex Evo, with the various hues of green on the sneaker referencing Mamlambo, the Goddess of Rivers in traditional Xhosa culture.” Naturally, it’s surprising that Ting Chong – a second-generation South African whose family is Chinese – chose cultures that he is not born into or intrinsically entrenched in for his inspiration. As expected, and rightfully so, quite a few people feel this approach is simply – at the very least – problematic. There was some interesting dialogue, regarding this, on Dillon S Phiri’s page: You can go to Facebook to see all the points made. Anyway, back at the Joburg launch, I ask Ting Chong how he is going to address the feeling that he was appropriating other people’s culture. “For me, it was a fine line,” he shares. “I am second generation South African-Chinese. Funny enough, my dad can speak fluent Afrikaans and Xhosa which is insane because he was born in Port Elizabeth. He grew up in a rural community and had a little shop so he had to learn how to speak Xhosa fluently.” “Besides that, for me, Read More …

WHAT ARE THOSE?

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangsta. JK. Can you remember a time when women occupied the same space as men do in any sneaker community? There’s always the token. Or the girls who seem to always know someone going overseas who can cop them a pair you can’t find in the country. Or the girls who don’t give a damn about sneakers but have brands falling over themselves to give them some exclusive stuff because cool is their currency. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind influencers – do you, booboo. But I do believe that all women in the country deserve the opportunity to BUY the sneakers they want to buy at reasonable prices. Not just the two colourways at that one store, you know? That’s a little difficult to do when people think women are not key players or equals in the sneaker community. Even if you (like me) don’t have a “community” and you just like some heat on your feet, it’s not always easy to find some variety in this country. One just needs to look at the lack of pairs for GRADE SCHOOL SIZES in these shops to know that these South African buyers never loved us. Can we change that? I’m going to try. I don’t believe anyone should ever be asked to justify when or why or how they fell in love with sneakers. But for some reason, even the most eye-roll-worthy d-bags seem to think it’s ok to ask women to explain themselves. The other day, I was sitting 50m above the ground, sulking about not being able to bunjee jump and minding my business when two guys I’d just met pointed to my toes and asked me: ‘what are those?’ I get that a lot. “ZX Flux,” I said, still in my feelings about the bunjee. Then I shook my head and a millisecond later, corrected myself: “ZX 500, sorry,” I said. “Then why did you lie to us,” quizzed the one boy. “I didn’t lie,” I rolled my eyes, “I misspoke.” And Read More …