Words by Azola Mona
Founded on graffiti and street art in 2006 the natively Cape Townian, Shelflife was the first streetwear store in Africa. To date, the retail streetwear and sneaker store has held the local urban/street and sneaker culture down for over a decade. In that time, the store has grown from strength to strength while pioneering an entire culture, not just in the country but on the continent.
For 10 years, any notable drops and launches would have sneaker heads, resellers and collectors flying in to the Mother City to wait in lines that snaked around the store’s original 119 Loop street address. One of the most notable drops being the Nike Air Yeezy II, with Shelflife being the only retailer on the continent to launch the shoe. Collaborations with premium sneaker brands have also secured the stores “God Body” status, namely 2011’s limited edition “Train Runner” Shelflife x PUMA Suede and 2014’s New Balance 574 x Dr Zulu x Shelflife “City Of Gold” drop, both featuring proudly South African design influences and launched internationally. The Shelflife Vandal Attire (or SLVA) is the store’s very own in-house brand, designed and produced within South Africa.
The range consists of the highest quality tee’s, hats, footwear and cut & sew products which are available exclusively at the Shelflife stores. With graffiti and street art being the biggest inspiration for the store, and still a priority, Shelflife holds all rights for Montana Colors spray paint, imported directly from Spain. Sporting a motto like, “We Got that Uncut Product” it comes as no surprise that the store is described as a shrine to the designer sneaker.
With the success of stores such as Anatomy and Dipstreet in the city, and to mark a decade in the game, a Johannesburg Shelflife store was launched in August 2016. Following just over a year’s preparation, the second branch of the iconic store finally opened its doors at 21 Keyes Avenue in Rosebank with the launch of the Adidas NMD R1’s and XR1’s. The store featured the brand’s signature minimalistic gallery aesthetic with the shoes and merchandise on display on clean casings, placing focus more on the products. The store is frequented by the likes of MkayFrash, Riky Rick and Major League (basically all your favourite artists and celebrities). So if you’re on the market for a killer kick of the latest, classic and exclusive variety, be sure to pop in at ShelfLife.