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Title: 'Swag' : an ethnographic study of izikhothane fashion identity
Authors: Memela, Busisiwe Sanelisiwe 
Keywords: Skhothane;Swag;Identity;Neo-tribe;Fashion;Style-fashion-dress;South African Township style;Post-apartheid identity;Perfomativity;Bling culture
Issue Date: 2018
Skhothane is defined by ostentatious performances that involve dance, ‘dissing’ and flamboyant dress. The following study identifies and analyses the neo-tribe’s fashion codes in order to understand more thoroughly how and why these are constructed as well as to shed light on subcultural phenomena in South African township culture. The idea of neo-tribes such as skhothane and hip-hop being counterculture has become challenged by the increasing influence of mass culture on the youth -especially in post-apartheid South Africa, where media dictates on lifestyle and identities are continually evolving. This qualitative research project aims at uncovering the stylistic nuances of the Skhothane neo-tribe. It further maps out the factors that inform how the members negotiate and express their identity using fashion. In this respect, phenomenological epistemology was appropriate as it lent itself to the deep inquiry into the culture’s identity from the perspective of its members. The ethnographic research methods of observation, journaling and interview were employed on the study sample of 9 participants belonging to the Italian Gates skhothane crew, in order to explore the fashion identities of Skhothanes. The common defining feature of the Italian Gates skhothane fashion performances is the acquisition and pageant-like display of members’ perceived wealth through colourful Italian branded clothing. In this study’s sample, the practice of vandalism on consumer goods is a rarity and is understood as being an uncommon skhothane performance. Instead, the idea of vandalism being inherent to the culture seems to have gained notoriety through subjective media coverage. The overall findings of the study indicate that the self-reflexive identities of the skhothane Italian Gates group make the participants intertextual authors in their use of luxury clothes to portray the image of their desired affluence and social positions. The existence of the skhothane neo-tribe reaffirms the reality of a postmodern society but more so it demonstrates a shift in the identities of young black South Africans. The study has provided terminologies relevant to neo-tribal phenomena that are defined by consumerism and performance in the context of fashion.
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements of the Degree of Master of Applied Arts: Fashion, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2018.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Arts and Design)

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