Bang bang, He’s DEAD.
The South African streetwear designer seeking immortality with his style.
“What do I do? That’s a tough question,” says the young South African, leaning back, relaxed. “I’m not a fashion designer. I’m just a guy that makes clothes. I’m an artist. But my main thing is making clothes. That’s what I would die for.”
Not an understatement. Thabang “Bangy” Rabothata, or BANGYISDEAD as he prefers to be called, wasn’t satisfied with just starting a clothing line. Over three years, the label DEAD. has evolved into a far-reaching lifestyle brand. DEAD. radio. DEAD. water. DEAD. ice cream. There was even a collaboration with Vandewaffle, a Belgian waffle shop in Johannesburg, selling DEAD. black waffles.
“You’re not appreciated when you’re alive,” he says. “So you’d rather be dead. People only really care about you when you are dead.”
The brand kickstarted in 2015 when the former architecture student presented his lookbook at a gallery awards night in Johannesburg. While Bangy only came for the free drinks, he left with that night's top review, after capturing the attention of fashion editors and stylists.
DEAD.’s seasonal drops of unisex streetwear are comprised of well-fitted, smartly tailored structured designs. Highly practical normcore pieces meet wild aesthetics. There are garments inspired by Chinese workwear with playful prints and patchwork, bright colors and metallics, and monochrome sportswear. Oversized chest pockets meet slit sleeves and dramatic prints. The A/W 2018 collection We gon' live forever went in for wild biker looks using glossy latex and leather in bold neon.
“People only really care about you when you are dead”
“I don’t know how [I come up with it],” explains the founder. “I just work with a color in my head. That’s why I wouldn’t call myself a fashion designer ‘cause I don’t know how to do mood boards, drawings, sketches … an idea just keeps popping up in my head and that’s what I do.”
DEAD.’s clothes are just what Bangy wants to wear himself. For example, a pair of work shorts with four pockets because he kept losing his wallet. “That’s how I do my stuff all the time,” he explains. “What I wear should be best fitted for me. And if someone else likes it, that’s just a bonus.”
Scroll through DEAD. looks below or see more on the label’s website.