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Only the Real Survive: “My Style Is Real” Curated by Austin Malema

“You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.”

Being a creative outlier is staying true to yourself while creating something new. The upside is that you could create value in someone else’s life. We communicate creatively through music, fashion, photography, design, architecture, poetry, blogging – the list is endless. The unprecedented rise of social media has a way of watering down the authentic. The legendary writer Mark Twain took on this subject when he defended Helen Keller from a charge of plagiarism. He believes that there was no such thing as plagiarism, as there is no such thing as originality. Stating that it’s more about authenticity. His argument has merit. So the challenge as a creative is to be authentic. Be the best version of YOURSELF, there is only one.

In 2018 Side Step launched an initiative of collaborative sessions where those that had made their mark, could share insights in the hope of empowering creatives. The idea morphed into a commitment by sharing knowledge with aspiring individuals across creative disciplines. The collaboration with ADIDAS ORIGINALS aptly known as #TheSitDown saw creatives who stood for authenticity, and who fought to blaze their own path.

“Being a creative outlier is staying true to yourself while creating something new…”

Austin Malema is a true authentic. The #TheSitDown session reminded attendees that he has the spirit of a trailblazer. Fearless and not afraid to push the limits. This boy from Venda was listed in 2019’s Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list. This Venda boy was David Beckham’s personal photographer on his recent visit to South Africa. Looking into his short but illustrious career, it is evident that Austin will become a great legacy in time come. To date, Austin has photographed top musicians like Drake, Joey BadA$$, AKA, Cassper Nyovest, Beyoncé and Jay-Z. How did this boy from Venda manage this? And what keeps him going? Watch his interviews or read his tweets, he you will see he is all about being authentic.

His approach to photography his signature. He took a craft and made it his own. Austin did not start shooting in the streets or studios, but went straight for the lion’s throat – he shot events. These unpredictable environments challenged him and pushed his skills to the next level. Making the right connections got him the opportunity to shoot even bigger and better events. Austin is also known in the fight to get his work recognized. Creating the hashtag #CreditThePhotographer. Shining the spotlight on the unfair practice in the lack of acknowledgement when using or posting a photograph, saw other photographers benefitting as a whole through his voice.

“A Venda boy who was David Beckham’s personal photographer on his recent visit to South Africa.” 

Side Step recognizes that through collaboration, much like the photoshoot for the “My Style Is Real” brand campaign, saw Austin’s unique skills and ability when he captured the essence and told a story of authenticity. Austin’s passion to share knowledge with those that are prepared to put in the time and effort was realized by two aspiring photographers at this shoot. He continues to stress that for aspiring photographer to make their mark, they have to develop their own style. His passion for pushing authenticity was key in this collaboration.

Inspired by both the SA the township mural and pop-art, the Side Step – My Style Is Real campaign’s drive, is to inspire authenticity and to be unique. Authenticity is a quality that Side Step respects and asks the question “why follow trends if you can create them”? We should strive to value our true self, to not be clones, as ONLY THE REAL SURVIVE and you can always spot a fake!

We are really excited about 2020 and we hope you will join us for the journey.