Brogues and High Tops: Where African and colonial influences collide in style

Sylvester Chauke tells us why he nominated this design for Most Beautiful Object in South Africa 2018.

It is the African continent’s wealth of colours and richness in textiles that moved Maria McCloy to design the Brogues and High Tops, which have been nominated by Sylvester Chauke for Most Beautiful Object in South Africa.

“For me, this is not just about pretty hats and beads,” says Chauke, the head of DNA Architects in Johannesburg. “But rather a question of how does it all fuse together to tell a story of South Africa today.”

He nominated the work of McCloy for its seemingly effortless affirmation of the modern South African identity. According to him, true beauty is achieved when a piece of design can maintain the cultural cues that are unique to South Africa and apply them in a practical, wearable way.

McCloy's adoration for African culture shines through her work.

“Everything I do is inspired by our continent. Wherever you put your finger on our map, there is amazing inspiration to be found,” she says. “When I started making accessories it was all about Africa because that is what has always been beautiful to me. It wasn’t a conscious decision. It wasn’t something I decided in a focus group.”

McCloy attributes her drive and creative vision to her parents, an English father and a Mosotho mother. Their influence of her is solidified in the Brogue shoes she designed. Traditionally a rudimentary work shoe from Ireland, McCloy’s Brogues feature intricate Sesotho cloth patterns and are perfect for the everyday stroll on the streets.