About a year ago I was talking about my travel wishlist  with my good friend Sam Lambert. I had mentioned visiting Africa and immediately Sam told me I had to meet this group of young men in Soweto that called themselves The Smarties.


Sam was right; these young men love fashion, design their own looks, and even sew the clothes themselves. Their look is a mix of their personal experiences and their dreams.


Kabelo, the young man pictured above, found this suit at a second-hand shop and and had it altered to his exact desires. He is very soft-spoken and sincere, it was quite touching when he told me that Lino is his hero and that he wore his “Italian flag” hat on that specific  day to honor Luca Rubinacci’s birthday.


We’ll see more of The Smarties this week.


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  1. gina Clark

    November 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    What a great story! Encourages me to keep expressing myself through fashion-to keep telling my own story. Can’t wait to see more-

  2. Simbarashe

    November 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    This is a real life landmark in men’s fashion. The fact that he’s so tailored and flawless is a true testament to the evolution not only of menswear, but the men who care about it.


    November 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm

  4. therese

    November 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I adore your posts from Joburg and from South Africa. Even though I am from Norway my heart belongs to South Africa – it is the most incredible place with the most fantastic people! Great shots of great personalities. Keep it up :) :)

  5. Boong

    November 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    indeed well tailored and i love that brown!

  6. Lelli Family

    November 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    wow beautiful story; I like Capelo. I like his coat, his shoes, his story.

    Daddy Lele from Lelli, italian fashion family


  7. Busi

    November 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Effortless style..

  8. Gray Cat Can Fly

    November 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Great picture and story behind!


  9. Desiree

    November 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm

  10. Iliyana

    November 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm

  11. Laura

    November 5, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Nice story and photo!


  12. YooJae

    November 5, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    I could feel how he love fashion through the picture. Especially, brown color with suit, accessory and tie(!!!) are so nice with him.
    I love this place with beautiful color in Pic.

    • LanaJoseph@Share My Music

      November 7, 2012 at 1:31 am

      Well in nowadays it’s become a trend that people are bringing back the old fashion with some modifications that reflects the modern trend.

  13. YooJae

    November 5, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    I could feel how he love fashion through the picture. Especially, brown color with suit, accessory and tie(!!!) are so nice with him.
    I love this place with beautiful color in Pic.


  14. Irene's Closet

    November 5, 2012 at 2:38 pm

  15. Nomadic D

    November 5, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Capelo looks great, so swank! Can’t wait to hear more about The Smarties (what a great name too!)


  16. Clara

    November 5, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    What a great story! Thank you for sharing it!

    Looking forward for the other Smarties’ pictures!

  17. elise

    November 5, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    African people use fashion with style.
    Thanks for sharing this image with us.
    If you do not know already know about it, have a look at the 80s phenomenon of “La Sappe” (société des ambienceurs parisiens) from Brazzaville and Kinshasa. (Garance should be able to help with the French translation).
    a great post-colonial way to mic tradition with modernity.
    Also, but this time in the USA of the 30s, the Zoot suits, which gave their name to the sad zoot suit riots.

  18. Angela

    November 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Beautiful and heartfelt!

  19. Dip It Black

    November 5, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Beautiful picture!
    Love the way you capture not only an outfit, but also a personality!


  20. Liz

    November 5, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    glad you went!!


  21. Ella

    November 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    I just love this picture! This young man is sylish, proud yet humble. Africa is a great place for fashion with a totally different take on body shapes, clothes, colours and cuts. In Congo, “Les Sappeurs” would also be wonderful for you to capture. Some of them are in Paris. Fashion is their religion!

  22. Betsy

    November 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    This makes me so happy.

  23. Elena

    November 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Beautiful story! Love how this young man expresses himself!

  24. Bohemian Style

    November 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Tassel shoes, sockless, one of my personal favorites.


  25. monkeyshines

    November 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    wonderful styling!


  26. c woodyard

    November 5, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    What a fine fantastic dude, and in a most amazing city, Soweto! A great education for the audience, and I hope you show more. I’ve been, and am loving a return trip, through your lens. Thanks! Cynthia

  27. Lallo

    November 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    This guy has much more style and elegance than Lino…he is just not aware about it.


    November 5, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Can’t wait to see more of The Smarties crew! Love all the details in this guys outfit, it’s true personal style.

  29. Bernard

    November 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I live and work in Johannesburg. I am a white guy, but let me tell you, the little I know about fashion I have learned from my black friends. They know how to pull a killer look, often on a shoe-string budget! The guy in your photo looks like a million dollars – he probably did not spend a $100. Keep up the great work!

  30. Susie

    November 5, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    This suit fits him so well – more proof that proper tailoring is so worth it. Looking forward to seeing more of the smarties.

    Sea and Swank

  31. Jennifer

    November 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    How daper!

    xo Jennifer


  32. Tumisang

    November 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I’m proudly South African, living in Jozi(as we affectionately call it) and I adore all your posts that reflect the dope fashion that comes from my city. This is the Africa they don’t show you!

  33. Margherita

    November 5, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Amazing prose and great picture. That was quite a treat!

  34. Daisy Nguyen

    November 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Looking forward to seeing more of the Smarties! This one is FAB. I LOVE his tailored suit and the HAT!

    -Daisy Nguyen from the PS BANANAS! fashion blog: http://psbananas.com

  35. Madara

    November 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    This is very cool and for sure SMART!
    And I really like how the colours of hat matches the details in background!


  36. Jan Sarah

    November 5, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Lovely story and very smartly dressed indeed!

  37. Gian Luca M

    November 5, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Congratulations to Capelo!… W l’Italia!

    Gian Luca M


  38. Danny P.

    November 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Yes, yes, yes. This is fantastic, and I look forward to it more than you can imagine.

  39. Thehatchaser

    November 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I want to stole his hat!

  40. AmyFoote

    November 5, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    This is great!! My kids have both been to SA, and visited Soweto. Changed their lives. How beautiful that you wrote about The Smarties!

  41. Júlia

    November 5, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    So inspiring!!!


    November 5, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    i love his brown suits against the blue box in the behind!!



    November 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    really nice look

  44. bellaconscience

    November 5, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    wow…i am so happy that men like these exist today!


  45. Lynkez

    November 6, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Smart gentleman! Love his style. In my country we call that hat a ‘god-father’. So adorable and expensive.

  46. annabella

    November 6, 2012 at 3:09 am

    This JB series is so moving to me on so many levels. Some may not know part of aparthied in 1986 ish and onward, was the banning of all publishing of all photos of anything/anyone in SA by any press anywhere,…. in hopes that the rest of the world wouldn’t see the truth.

    WoW! Here we are now looking at joy, life and fashion in Soweto! I suspect Iam not alone in being moved to tears to see this beautiful photo of this elegant man so exquisitely dressed and styled. And to read his inspiring story and learn of the fantastic ‘Smarties”, and that they worship at the altar of Lino/Al Bazzar..like it’s down the road! Can’t imagine how thrilling it was for him to be photographed for “the Sartorialist”! Had to be pretty special for you too Scott.

    My heart swells to read he is honoring Luca’s birthday with his hat band!
    Not that it’s anyof my biz, but I think the seat of honor between Lino and Luca at the next Pitti l’uomo/Florence Sartorialist dinner….absolutely positively belongs to this elegant gentleman… The Magnificent Sartorialist, Kabelo, Smartie of Soweto!

    How hard could that be to pull off?

    Thank you Scott for showing us the REAL SA. Bring on the Smarties!


    • Energie

      November 6, 2012 at 8:32 am

      I love your post so much Annabella! You sure get it/us South Africans.

      • annabella

        November 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm

        Thank you so much,Energie, such an honor to be complimented by a South African! Those were very dark days indeed! I am a citizen of USA and lived in NYC at the time and was involved with several of SA’s highly esteemed writers, poets and other operatives that worked tirelessly bac k and forth between USA,the UN,and SA, and with top reporters bravely embedded in SA who tirelessly tried to keep the SA news on world front pages (under the atrocious ‘self editing’ bans), in order to bring to an long overdue the draconian aparthied system. When this group of tirless workers had gone back to SA, my very unofficial job was to manually cut out every artilce written about SA by the NY Times and other papers of note at the time (after the’ banning’..these articles as dictated by SA ‘self editing’ law were bereft of their powerful photos, and reportershad to be oh so careful) …and send them off to this devoted team in SA, so they could know what was truly happening in their own country! I can’t remember how long i did this, but it was small stuff compared to my friends work in SA.
        So to see these gorgeous ‘day in the life” photos of creativity, freedom, joy and fashion on the world’s top fashion blog with such lightness …. and in Soweto and JB,no less, is unbelievably fantastic!!!!!!!!

        Feel free to email Alyssa at Scott’s for my email if you would ever like to contact me.

        Also,on this our democratic USA election day, I am reminded how important voting is and what a beautiful right and duty it is.

        I’ve been googling those moving aerial photos of the first democratic SA election…which always brings me to tears. Thousands of SA’s happilly,gratefully and patiently waitng for hours/days in searing heat on miles of snaking lines in the fields…to vote!

        Scott, thanks so much for insisting on going to Jozi and Soweto to capture this beautiful moving visual story of freedom, from the amazing country who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to enjoy freedom…. life…and fashion and style! RESPECT!

  47. Sanna from Flash For Zonzon

    November 6, 2012 at 3:11 am

    Oh how nice he looks. He is so perfect in every way. I’m looking forward the next posts of this series.

  48. Gigi

    November 6, 2012 at 3:29 am

    Thank you Scott for the great photos of your african trip. I was born in Mozambique I have been to JHB many times. Your shots are bringing me back home!

  49. Miranda L

    November 6, 2012 at 5:12 am

    Interesting post! The Smarties remind me a little bit about another fashion group/subculture in Africa called The Sapeurs, they are from the Congo, impeccably dressed men!

  50. debbie

    November 6, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Can’t wait to see more of the Smarties. This young man is too cool.

  51. Energie

    November 6, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Oh knock me with a feather, this is awesome, just awesome!!

  52. Dixn

    November 6, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Its the HAT and alterations…..too awsome

  53. caren

    November 6, 2012 at 9:23 am

    i live in johannesburg and know “The Smarties” personally… they are the most amazing creative group of guys with a real passion for what they do.
    i just wanted to give you a bit of background on their name… here in south africa, we have a chocolate called smarties which are like M&M’s in the US. they are really colourful candy on the outside and chocolate on the inside. “The Smarties” see their clothing and style as colourful on the outside and brown on the inside… this is where they got their name from :).
    keep up the amazing work and i really cant wait to see more on them…
    and thanks for exposing south african fashion to the world.

  54. Sevan

    November 6, 2012 at 9:28 am

    This is giving me great hope that, one day, the younger generations will understand how important it is to “dress.” To show your personality, your pride, your self respect.
    Bravo to the Smarties ! (Great name.)

  55. h

    November 6, 2012 at 9:44 am


    This IS the stuff that really makes your work stand out ! I am really loving your SA work! It is pure awesomeness!

  56. shane mate

    November 6, 2012 at 10:01 am

    really awesome design on the street great piece of work

  57. Víctor

    November 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

    As for me, that hat is out of place. The rest, OK.

  58. Stephanie F.

    November 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Love it! Cant wait to see more Smarties! Thank you Caren for background on name-perfect!

  59. http://anna-and-klaudia.blogspot.com/

    November 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    so stylish and elegant :)

  60. Dandy Portraits

    November 6, 2012 at 9:10 pm


    So excited to see a new group (or previously unknown to me) of dapper men in the world!
    How do these fellas relate to the swenkas and sapeurs I wonder?


  61. Colleen

    November 7, 2012 at 3:57 am

    I live in South Africa and ashamed to say that I have never heard of them before! I always learn something from your blog – thanks!

  62. Emil

    November 7, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Some years ago I saw a Danish documentary about a group of South African men competing in style and elegance. It’s called ‘The Swenkas’ and I really like it. You can find the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uWRetsYJ34

  63. B

    November 8, 2012 at 4:51 am

    It is absolutely amazing to see someone I know featured here. I am proud to be a Joburger :) and absolutely proud of the gentleman in the photo, Kabelo Kungwane.
    PS* He has a tumblr blog.

  64. Miss Makoti

    November 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    I met the Smarties at a festival in Soweto in 2008.
    And they are not only young men, there are girls too.
    I love them!

  65. Berenger

    November 12, 2012 at 6:22 am

    I want to see the girls!

  66. Eyespectacle

    November 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    This is one of yourbest posts! It proofs that you don’t just photograph models and fashionistas, you also find wonderfully inspiring creative people like The Smarties, in far away places like SA (my mom’s country!) and with small budgets for dressing up, wonderful!


  67. Kabelo Kungwane

    February 17, 2013 at 5:13 am

    Thank You!! Much Appriciated,I’d love to thank Scott for everything he done for me during his time in SA I appriciate Thanks

  68. Make money online

    March 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    wow! many thanks for that tremendous piece of writing. I actually loved it for the main. Hope you retain putting up such wonderful content pieces

  69. palesa moyo

    February 1, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Smarties Smarties …….saw their show on tv the other day nd I jst knew I wasn’t the only kid who saw fashion in a different way really love their work #wish I was part of the family

  70. mphele moima

    March 25, 2015 at 8:53 am

    Big up smarties , I saw yr work on youth culture at sab1,so impressive you doing great job,your designs are stylish and unique.Am so impressed. How can people reach you ,to come see some of yr designs

  71. Shoatja Lourens

    April 17, 2015 at 9:45 am

    love what these guys are doing , expressing themselves through fashion. what your doing is really great and its about time we support locally produced products and stop enriching foreign countries while our country remain poorer

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