South African Menswear Brand Sol Sol Is Making Waves

Living the streetwear dream via fit, fabric and design

South African Menswear Brand Sol Sol Is Making Waves
Yaseen Dockrat

South African streetwear brand Sol Sol has been making waves in its homeland (and beyond) for some time now, using a laser focus on fit, fabric and design coupled with smart collab and zeitgeisty thinking. YUNG sat down with head designer, Reagan Paulsen, to chat about Sol Sol.

Where do you call home?

Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. Currently based in Belthorn Estate located in the southern suburbs known as the “Cape flats”.

How did you become a designer?

I am a very hands-on person. The first thought of becoming a designer was at the end of my Matric year. My parents asked me what I wanted to study, and I said I wanted to study fashion design. As teachers for many years, they looked at each other and thought “oh, but that’s not sustainable.” But with hard work and dedication (sticking to my guns) I had the privilege to work for Sol Sol Menswear. For one, I looked up to a lot of local designers at a time and to be part of a brand that I admired, was really special. A huge thanks to Mathew Keiser for giving me the opportunity!

Is it hard to stay innovative?

Yes and no. It’s a process which requires one to be comfortable with failures and disappointments. It’s not always as it seems. I struggle with coming up with new concepts but despite the discomfort of not getting anywhere, I manage to get somewhere from nowhere.

How do you walk the line between being unique and having commercial appeal?

I guess what separates us from most depends on the fabrications and styling of the garments when introduced to the customer. We try to spark our audience with unknown silhouettes that haven’t been a part of the brand’s nature. That way, we can engage in being unique and having commercial appeal. Also, the brand’s language in a way is unique on its own.

Sol Sol

You have an interesting back story, tell us about it

I grew up as an avid sportsman. Started playing football at the age of six and then gravitated towards skateboarding which kind of evolved me into the person I am today. As a nine-year-old, going to skateparks and hanging out with my older brother and friends, I have been exposed to too many aspects of the “teenage dream”. Sneaking out at night with my brother to the skatepark was one of my highlights, just taking risks and having fun (even though I was grounded). I live by that now, take risks and you may or may not reap the rewards. But it’s worth the try.

Who’s the designer you admire most?

I’ve admired many designers growing up and evolving into the fashion culture. For the most part, I’ve had a distinguished taste which made me who I am today. Learning from local designers and talking about culture shifts which was done by designers like Virgil Abloh has to be on the top of my list. Another designer I am most fond of is Kim Jones.

If your clothes had a soundtrack, what would it be?

That’s a good question, ha-ha. I love music, it forms a part of my life and how I feel at that present moment. But if it had to be one song, it would be “Kick, Push” by Lupe Fiasco.

Sol Sol

What are some of the struggles that define you as a designer?

Growing up in a non-creative family is a challenge on its own. There were no creative energies around me, so I had to get up and search for these energies elsewhere. When I decided to be in fashion, I was questioned many times about my sexuality. I wasn’t offended, but at the same time, were straight guys not allowed to study fashion? I was always on the move and making connections because I knew no one was going to help me but me. I guess that moulded me into the strong, hardworking individual I am today.

Sol Sol

What’s the inspiration behind this current collection?

The capsule collection was inspired by a laid-back nostalgia based on pre-summertime love. Enjoy the start of warmer days ahead but still actively go out on your morning or later afternoon strolls amongst nature or within the city.

What’s next for Sol Sol?

We’re excited to announce that we will have a space in EGG Rosebank [a concept store in Johannesburg].  Hopefully, we will be stocking internationally again, which is really fancy too. Also, keep a look out for our upcoming spring collection which drops end of September.

Photography: Ya’eesh Dollie
Styling: Reagan Paulsen
Model: Fadiel