n Image & Text : a Journal for Design - Hypersampling black masculinities, Jozi style

Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1020-1491



In this article, I examine emergent performances of fashion(able) and fashion(ed) black masculine identities manifest in work by selected young fashion designers and design collectives currently practicing in the urban environs of Johannesburg. These vibrant, dynamic, youth-orientated forms of cultural practice encompassa range of transnational, transhistorical, transcultural, black masculine identities. I contend that such identities are achieved through use of "hypersampling": theremixing, re-appropriating, reintegrating, fusing, conjoining, interfacing and mashing-up of often disparate elements gleaned from a multiplicity of sources to produce new fashion styles.

Many of these practitioners' work can be said to include characteristics of "black dandyism" - appropriations of dandyesque dress and fashionable display as a means of performing black diasporic masculinities. Focusing on the work of two Johannesburg-based design collectives, Khumbula and the Sartists, I show how, through hyper sampling strategies, both look back to the past, consuming, hyper sampling and re-cycling images from Southern and South African history. Both deploy transhistorical and transcultural referents as a means of subversive resistance: a mechanism through which to negotiate, problematise or disrupt prevailing power relations embedded within them, whilst also operating as a form of creative agency through which to express shifting notions of black masculinities in the context of the African metropolis of Johannesburg.

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