Mnike: Just do it
A local art collective takes a famous logo and makes it their own
Reimagining logos of major brands and putting a cheeky spin on them is nothing new. But in order for a spoof to be memorable and worth paying attention to, it needs to capture something about its particular time or at least communicate a message to its intended audience clearly and cleverly.
Think of Commes des F***down street wear or Pop Caven’s FELA gear in the style of FILA , for example.Now a Gauteng duo has created their own spoof merchandise and a photo essay to capture its mood. Photographer Lebogang Tlhako and creative director Nati Kgobe, who call themselves Sho Ngwana, are showcasing their Airsthetics photo series on their Instagram accountIt features four children – Kutlwano, Sibusiso, Nkateko and Kelebogile – posing in the streets of Naledi in Soweto, wearing spoof Nike T-shirts. The use of the Zulu word “mnike” is a reference to the 2000 kwaito megahit Mnike by Arthur Mafokate. Sho Ngwana has taken one of the world’s biggest and most ubiquitous brands and localised it.The reasoning behind it is simple: Tlhako and Kgobe, who both grew up in the townships of Gauteng (Katlehong and Pimville, respectively) wanted to create something that captured youthful aspirations and the experience of living ekasi in South Africa.The duo writes that they felt the need to create their own mock editorial featuring kids from the township: “Growing up, we’d go through magazines and re-enact what we saw or sometimes even wished that we were the ones featured in those publications. But the fact was that most editorials we saw didn’t speak to our backgrounds or reflect our experiences in the township.”The title of the photo series, Airsthetics, is a playful portmanteau of the brand’s famous “Air” technology and the brand (think two of their hugely popular sneaker lines, the Air Jordan and the Air Max), and the word aesthetics.The images evoke the work of Ghanaian photographer James Barnor, who captured ordinary and fabulous young black folk post-independence, as well as shots of late 1980s Harlem tailor Dapper Dan’s stylish clients looking glamorous in locations not often seen as such.To see more, visit Sho Ngwana on Instagram