Painting a Different Picture of Africa – I See A Different You

Painting a Different Picture of Africa – I See A Different You

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Poverty, overpopulation, war, disease and corruption – these are the subjects that dominate when it comes to images of Africa.

But a trio of young photographers and fashionistas from Soweto – Innocent Mukheli, his twin brother Justice and his best friend Vuyo Mpantsha – have set out to change all that. They are portraying South Africa and the continent in a different light.

Where others see despair and hopelessness, they find romance, beauty, fun and possibility.

“We grew up in a humble environment, but we were happy, and always stylish,” says Innocent. “That’s the story we want to tell.”

Aligning with the right brands

The two brothers had worked in the advertising industry for several years before going into I See a Different You full-time, while Mpantsha had been studying photography. They got together when they started experimenting with new ways to portray Soweto.

“The quality of our work got better and better over time,” says Innocent. “But our big break was a campaign for Markham’s in 2013. That made us realise there was a business in helping trendy companies with their branding.”

The clothing retailer had heard about their work and their snappy dress sense, and contracted them to both model in and do the photography for one of its campaigns. After that, the work started coming in regularly, all as a result of word of mouth, and of the take they have on their own brand.

 

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“We position ourselves as artists, not as young guys who are trying to build a business. That’s why we are extremely careful about who we associate with – we look to align with the right people and the right brands to grow our own brand.

Innocent-Mukheli,-Justice-Mukheli,-Vuyo-Mpantsha

Celebrating Africa

“Everything we do is about building our own brand while we work to change perceptions of Africa,” says Mpantsha. “It’s about opening up the continent and showing people how rich life is here.”

Following the successful Markham’s campaign, the trio was approached by high-end denim brand Diesel to become part of its Diesel+EDUN campaign, a two-season collaboration inspired by the deep blue sky and dark nights of the African desert, and entirely manufactured in Africa, is a first for Diesel.

“That was an amazing initiative to be part of as the focus was on African design and manufacturing,” says Mpantsha. “Again, the ISADY brand was perfectly aligned with the objectives of the campaign.”

Next up the guys will be developing a fashion line of shirts and sandals, all inspired by their stylish take on the world around them.

Vital Stats

  • Company: I See A Different You
  • Players: Innocent Mukheli, Justice Mukheli, Vuyo Mpantsha
  • Est: 2012
  • Contact: +27 (0)79 248 5389 ; iseeadifferentyou@yahoo.com
  • Visit: facebook.com/ISeeADifferentYou
Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.