How YOH! Turned South Africa’s Hottest Parties Into A Dope Streetwear Brand

From party ambassadors to streetwear kings in a few simple steps.

Photographer Nico Krijno
November 13, 2014

Hearing Patrick Visser and Raees Saiet describe the first parties they threw as YOH!, it's not entirely surprising that their work as promoters culminated in the creation of wearable merch. "Within the first ten minutes, people would always rip the decorations off the walls and find multiple ways to make it into clothing," says Visser. That same spirit of childish whimsy propelled Visser and Saiet into producing YOH!, a minimalist streetwear brand based in Cape Town. With alien heads and yin-yangs dancing across polo shirts, sweatshirts, and knitted beanies, the unisex clothing line taps into the nostalgia for '90s childhood emblems shared by South African millennials raised in the years after Apartheid. We asked the duo to share tips on how to transform a grassroots party into a fully fledged apparel line.

Don't Trip Over Your Age

VISSER: Don't get hung up on things like being too young or not having enough experience. We were 19 and 21 when we started, and a lot of people didn't take us seriously at first, but that's fallen away. Our age and ability to tap into '90s nostalgia culture is a huge part of YOH!'s identity. After seeing our parties grow, people in the industry respect us more now than they did a year ago.

Make your friends your deputies

VISSER: It's really important to have a core group of people that help out with things. We've always had a lot of regulars at our parties, and we drag along a group of friends when we have parties in other cities, like Durban and Johannesburg. We have a permanent photographer and a resident DJ at our parties. When we shot our lookbook and video, our friends modeled. We just gave them clothes and food and drinks.

Dust yourself off and try again

RAEES: Before we started throwing parties, Patrick was just putting on these film screenings around town. I joined in once he started to turn those into bigger parties, just helping out wherever I could, putting together gift bags and stuff. The first party had maybe 200 people; now they draw in over a thousand. In the same way, YOH! wasn't originally a clothing line—we first thought of it purely as merchandise. The quality of our first stuff was very cheaply printed and wasn't that nice. But it was like a learning curve. We just kept at it and got better.

Find a signature look

VISSER: We like our clothes to be unisex and we like making them on the larger side. We don't even make size smalls. We like to use the yin-yang and the alien graphics a lot. Especially in South Africa, these symbols represent a really positive part of our childhoods, where there might not otherwise be a ton of great stuff to remember. Even though we like to design for ourselves, we want everyone to look good in our clothing.

Be your own hype man

VISSER: This might be a cliché, but at the end of the day, you just have to believe what you're doing is the right thing. It's about having so much faith in your idea that it eventually becomes this tangible thing that other people can believe in. Simply by believing in it yourself, you can convince people that what you're doing is cool, and that's half the job.

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How YOH! Turned South Africa’s Hottest Parties Into A Dope Streetwear Brand