Words by Sanele Mawisa
Launched in 2015, Corner Store is much more than your regular clothing store. Based on the collaboration between 3 powerful brands at the forefront of streetwear culture, namely Young & Lazy, SolSol and 2Bop, the store is situated in the heart of Woodstock.
The owners of 2Bop, SolSol and Young&Lazy are Anthony Smith, Matthew Kieser and Anees Petersen, and they have created a progressive and innovative store which is a true reflection of the their respective brands.
The full Corner Store team also consists of Luke Doman, who acts as the store manager and designer, and Adam Randles who is the assistant store manager.
All 3 brands are locally produced and clothing production and design work is all done at the store. The store aesthetic is minimal and clean and is situated at 103 Sir Lowry Road.
The garments range from tees, hoodies, crewnecks to jackets and even SolSol chinos. The designs are minimalistic with a bit of a street edge. The style is easy-going and illustrates the world of young, diverse creatives.
“’So before corner store there was obviously Smith and Abrahams. At that point there weren’t many spots in which a local streetwear brand could land in a way that it would make sense and resonate with the clientele of the store. S&A was already closely connected to 2BOP but because of its unique connection with the culture, S&A quickly became the unofficial home to both Young and Lazy and Sol-Sol, with Young and Lazy moving in to an office space upstairs. When the store closed (may its soul rest in peace), all three of the brands, at different levels but all very much established, needed a new home. Because the people behind the brands had been working around each other for a time, the collaboration seemed natural and the first few moves were made almost immediately.” Says Luke Doman, (Store Manager)
The space also functions as a hub for creatives and the fashion-forward youth to gather and explore the latest collections and maybe cop some of the old school classics. The store opens into the late night once a month as part of the popular First Thursdays route, where you can enjoy a jovial atmosphere as like-minded people congregate over wine and streetwear culture.
What makes Corner Store different is their clear vision which is built on collaboration, local production and community. There is a real family atmosphere which fosters a great spirit amongst the designers and those that visit the store. They are cultivating a space that is not entirely focused on bringing feet into the store to buy but where people can come in for a chat, a coffee and maybe a video game or two.
When asked about the reasons behind the success of the collaboration between the 3 brands, Luke says “Very many reasons that we probably don’t even understand but from what I can see, all of the homies had similar visions with regards to where they could take their brands and they were all ready for a ‘next step’ of sorts, so the store came at a good time for everyone. Everybody is also just really nice and we all seem to get along for the most part. Our interests and ways of getting things done are pretty similar too, as well as the respective attitudes to what is going on and what needs to be done in our city. Most importantly though, everybody continues to level up, product, content and communication wise. On top of all this even is the fact that nobody was ever willing to simply be a retail store, everybody believed in a vision for a space that would become important to very many people.”
He then adds that “I think the fact that nobody is in this thing for personal gain or to be cool or get babes or whatever, this is work, this is where homies come from, its where they’re going and it’s what they love and what they’re good at. It’s really not a secret that intention is important when you’re doing anything because it shows when your motives are about self-promotion and that bullshit. Aside from that people in the building are really experienced in this area and have made a concerted effort to be better what they do and gain a deeper understanding of the industry. The brands might have popped up on homies radars quite recently and may only have been established a couple years back but the individuals behind the brands are 10, 15, 20 years in the making – it’s not a joke, it’s not fluke, it’s not being lucky or cool, its being about some shit and working really hard and really smart.”
They are aligning to the new youthful way of doing retail and that is to focus on providing your customer with a full and rich experience and inviting them to be a part of the brand.
On an individual level Young & Lazy and SolSol were part of the hugely successful StyleBySA collection collab with Woolworths and had their designs featured on the SA Fashion Week runway at the end of March. The collaboration has been met with widespread acclaim and is a massive boost for the streetwear industry to be able to collaborate with a major retailer in Woolworths.
Their impact and influence on streetwear culture has been immense. You can find the brands being worn by the likes of rappers Youngsta, Riky Rick, fashion bloggers Tshepang Mollison and Lulama Wolf. All 3 brands are worn by the coolest of the cool.
As Luke says the opportunities are endless when it comes to what lies in the future, “We’ll keep pushing I guess mate, I mean everybody is always busy with a lot of stuff so everything is always moving forward. As far as the immediate future of the brand, we’re always pushing to produce and develop content that is on a level so we’ll keep doing that. As far as what I’m busy with, I really, really want to level up the in-store clothing line so what’s coming from us in that department is definitely gonna be way better and I’m really excited about it!”
The store is going from strength to strength and is well on its way to becoming the cornerstone of streetwear culture and collaboration.