Quick Questions With Buyi
On this edition of Quick Questions, we speak to Buyi, an exceptional executive who daylights as the marketing lead for Butan—South Africa’s leading streetwear brand.
What has your career journey been as the marketing lead for one of Johannesburg’s biggest streetwear brands?
I came from a finance background as a business developer and the switch-up came because finance was becoming a tedious task that I could execute in my sleep. I came into the fashion sphere with a boutique brand called the JD Brand as a brand manager for the label. The JD Brand was and still is, a bespoke corporate gifting company where I was able to deal with a wide array of clients on varied projects on every scale. The turnkey offering that we were able to deliver on was nothing short of consistently exciting.
My growth then came when I was poached by one of our clients in the promotional space and I was able to work with larger budgets and wilder campaigns from ideation. I was hooked and unable to rehabilitate as it were.
Coming to the Butan brand was a complete full circle from the corridor chats about my unique style to interior decorating and styling shoots to understanding the streets and loving how they shaped part of who I am. It made the utmost sense. Understanding the culture and the corporate jargon, and then being able to combine the two effortlessly is, invaluable – not the kind of combinations I was taught in Varsity.
Aside from fashion, what other forms of art interest you?
The other forms of art that make my soul sing are fine and contemporary together with photography. The ability to capture essence in a frame using quite literally your hands is such a super power.
What was your viewpoint of the state of Africa’s streetwear industry when you got into fashion and now?
African streetwear needs to be on the international fashion weeks and talking to the underground at the same time. As curators of culture, we aren’t using our voice well enough on the global stage. African streetwear is a kaleidoscope of influence.
Can you tell us three of your most successful marketing campaigns and what drove the success?
Butan Creatives x KWV, and the Butan x Inkabi Zezwe Capsule Collection. These two campaigns have been, and still are, centered around African heritage and African culture. We won because we spoke to the currency of Africans in light of Ubuntu (Ubuntu (Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu term meaning “humanity”. It is sometimes translated as “I am because we are”), – which forms great part of Butan’s ethos. The Butan Creatives series focuses on not just the end artistic product in terms of garments and the look-book but also, most importantly, on the Creatives who were able to curate an amazing body of work. In doing so Butan in partnership with KWV Brandy was able to celebrate the work and Creatives behind it. Something that doesn’t often happen in the creative industry.
The Inkabi Zezwe Capsule collection touched on Zulu culture as the influence came from the duo of Sjava and Big Zulu. Their love for their Zulu culture is exuded in their music and individual aesthetic, this allowed us to combine urban fashion with Zulu culture and their individual styles. It’s cool from the collaboration title then the cultural nuances just blow it out the streets! To be able to encapsulate the different pillars of urban streetwear fashion, music, and Zulu culture was a pioneering move, one that we are supremely proud of.
When you’re not cooking up marketing strategies, what unexpected things can you be found doing?
Unexpected for me, is babysitting haha!! The life of a streetwear marketer is having my finger on the pulse, knowing what’s happening not just on the streets but in the culture at large. I’m driven by knowledge, if and when the opportunity presents itself then I am there like a bear! To pioneer one must be aware of their Universe. Ours is vast, I mean we have 11 official languages so there is almost ALWAYS something new or something being packaged in a different manner that might just speak to potential. Potential is power. Pioneered Potential is leadership.
Your name is going on the African Fashion Hall of Fame, what would your quote be?
Stand your ground . Show NO fear. That colour looks GREAT on you!
Do you have any advice for streetwear fashion startups out there?
Remember why you are in this game. Tailor your lane to suite your why. Comparisons aren’t competition. Be consistent and don’t be afraid to push the envelope. DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!