Cult Swedish sneaker brand Eytys teams up with African artist Esther Mahlangu
Eytys isn’t just another effortlessly cool Swedish export. Its clear vision of practical, yet inimitably stylish footwear reimagines sportswear staples for Gen X as much as Gen Y. And for its latest shoe collaboration, the Scando brand (pronounced ’eighties’) has travelled further afoot to South Africa, to work with contemporary artist Esther Mahlangu.
The 80-year-old’s large-scale, graphic paintings have won global acclaim over the years, in the process catapulting the often-neglected South African art scene onto the world stage. Mahlangu’s community, the Ndebele people, were regionally renowned for a custom called ukugwala – the wall painting of the outside of one’s home and a practice passed down from mother to daughter over the centuries. When Mahlangu’s own highly decorative abode made waves throughout South Africa, international art critics began to take notice. ’Esther plays with elements from both traditional and contemporary art,’ says Max Schiller, Eytys’ creative director and co-founder. ’Her work is bold, straightforward and striking.’
The grandeur of Mahlangu’s bold colour clashes and mesmerising geometrical shapes has seen the artist’s work exhibited at Paris’ Centre Pompidou and Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum alike; it even emblazons one of BMW’s iconic art cars, alongside titans such as Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Jeff Koons. No mean feat for the once unknown ‘Art Woman’, as her local community dubbed her.
This collaboration sees Eytys’ ’Doja’ sneakers sporting an embroidered version of Mahlangu’s colourful designs on each shoe’s side, along with her autograph. From Sweden to South Africa, Eytys seem set on producing culture-clashing shoes for a globalised world – here’s hoping for plenty more collaborations to come.