Over 40 local streetwear brands and more than 20 local musicians, street artists, skaters and cyclists are coming together to change the face of South African street culture.
Under the Let’s Play Outside principle of play together, win together local creatives have united, to create, have fun and thrive collectively.
The movement is the brainchild of Mpumelelo “Fry-pan” Mfula, founder of RHTC – a clothing store and street culture hub in the heart of Braamfontein.
We spoke to Mpumelelo about what went into putting together the movement, how Let’s Play Outside festival came to be and the way forward.
The concept of Let’s Play Outside started in 2015 as a series of 6 workshops held at Livity Africa offices in Braamfontein. The event brought together some of the country’s greatest creative minds such as Scoop Makhathini, Thokoza Mjo and Vuyani Pambo to facilitate workshop sharing their insights on making money in the creative industry and offering tips for success as an entrepreneur.
“For a while RHTC was not that active because I was the main engine but I got a job working at Puma Select. I was there for 7 months but I felt like I needed to go back to RHTC. If I don’t, if I stay for another season then it would be over for the RHTC brand,” Mpumelelo says.
He describes the workshops as a way of revitalizing the RHTC brand after it had stagnated. The Let’s Play Outside workshops were so successful that Let’s Play Outside morphed into a brand of its own. It became an extension of RHTC, going beyond the core mandate of play together, win together. Let’s Play Outside interacted with street culture on a different level, with the focus being on travel and collaboration.
That event from 2 years ago turned into a festival. The first Let’s Play Outside street festival took place on Heritage Day at the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein featuring 40 local streetwear brands and more than 20 local musicians, street artists, skaters and cyclists.
“We had to get all of our friends to believe in us and our vision. You go to a festival and the heroes are the international brands – they are the ones who get the stalls. Local brands get a table on the sidelines. We had to get people to believe that they could be the main brands and they could be the drivers of a festival,” Mpumelelo says.
The festival strongly focused on putting local brands in the spotlight and placing local creatives at the centre. Mpumelelo speaks fervently about the Let’s Play Outside Festival being a platform that has been created for the benefit of young entrepreneurs and the development of local brands.
Putting the festival together required the help of friends and family and hinged on getting 100 creatives to believe in the vision Mpumelelo and his team had for Let’s Play Outside.
“Human capital was our main asset,” Mpumelelo says in praise of the friends and family that volunteered their time and skills to help organize the first event. He describes putting the festival together as a manifestation of their belief in “play together, win together.”
Despite the frenzied three months spent implementing their vision, the festival was a success with brands like Thesis, Beautiful Boys, and Thuggery, to name a few, selling their clothes. There were also performances by trap duo Champagne 69, Scott the girl, Uncle Party Time and many more.
“We need to repeat this again and again, until it becomes a way of life. We can be a self-sustaining society and I believe that this thing [Let’s Play Outside Festival] can happen for a long time,” Mpumelelo says reflecting on how amazing it was to have young South Africans buying products and jamming to music made by their peers.
Mpumelelo plans to take the festival national and plans to travel to Durban, Cape Town, Soweto and Mafikeng in the near future. Let’s Play Outside will also be hosting a street picnic next month to celebrate the end of a great year for the Let’s Play Outside and RHTC brands.
He also expresses his desire for the festival to inspire young people to believe in their ideas and make them happen.
“Live in the process, know that you are your biggest asset and so are your friends.”