It’s Not a Garment. It’s a Piece of Art


My name is Ayanda Njanya and I’m the marketing manager for Butan – the streetwear brand that pays homage to our heritage by fusing culture with a contemporary South African experience. This is my story…

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I’m a Black South African born and bred in Soweto. The true personification of a thoroughbred. I’m a quiet, observant and lethal component of street culture in our country.

If you imagine any surge or impactful moment in street culture in our country, I was there. Whether in the shape of the skateboarding shoe samples I sold in college, Monday hip-hop nights at Tokyo Star in 2004, Nike Sportswear’s formidable Gallery On 4th days to an all-encompassing podcast aptly titled AquarianOx Radio – THAT’S ME!

Fast forward to 2018 and I’m deeply involved in the streetwear revolution at Butan, the richly African premium streetwear brand which has been in the game for 16 years. I’ve seen the brand develop from a mere graphic on a blank tee to the 8-province retail distribution network it has today.

We continue to grow and so do I, every day.

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For Butan I create communications and digital assets and place the brand within culturally relevant spaces and on the backs of the people who represent our ethos.

Whether it’s Pearl Thusi (@pearlthusi) who proudly wears her ‘Mama Panther’ title, Farieda (@pharoahfi) who’s the internet’s comical darling, the trailblazing Until Until (@untiluntil_za) unit or the fashion-forward Trevor Stuurman (@trevor_stuurman),  Butan is proudly associated with the Africans who are carving their trails. These are the people that inspire us.

Outside of Butan, I DJ, consult and offer a myriad of solutions to businesses locally and internationally – all in the name of creativity. But I don’t often throw the term ‘creative’ around loosely. I’m yet to earn it.

I look at some of my influences who consistently keep me on my toes, charge me up and are my iKasi Originals.

Sanele Xolo, who is a close friend of mine, is a HUGE inspiration. He’s the father of streetwear in SA and is a Durban township native. He’s a true kasi hero who has made it in the big gritty city – Johannesburg. Peep Show store, marketing maven, streetwear god and aficionado are just some of the words that come to mind when I think of Sanele.

A close second favourite of mine is Thato ‘Bangy’ (@bangyisdead) of DEAD. He’s everything we need right now. He’s formidable, unafraid and smart.

Lastly, I’ll say my other iKasi Original is my ‘sister’ Tiisetso Molobi. She’s proven herself to be a unique and necessary part of our culture. A voice which is heard at the required times and settles to her domain to plot great moves.

Through our work at Butan, we hope to mirror the vibrant underground culture of South Africa’s streets. We strive to be authentic, original and conceptual to develop something that is more than a fashion brand – but a manifestation of the aspirations of our generation and an integral part of our street culture.


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Written by Ayanda Njanya