Men’s Health has this gig happening next week, Menswear Collections, and so leading up to that I’m going to be dropping a coupla fashion type blogs. What, just because a guy dresses exclusively in freebies he can’t drop knowledge on style? Ha, I’m on Mr. Porter, champ!
Anyway, this isn’t about me, it’s about my friend Bradley Abrahams.
It’s weird how you meet people. I first met Brad when he was busy stealing beers from my brother-in-law’s party. I caught him redhanded and indignantly kicked up a stink, which only made him grab me around the testicles and drag me to the bar next door where he then forced me to buy tequilas for us and only let go after I’d paid for them.
I kept a wide-berth after that, until one day my wife told me that a woman who had also just had a baby needed to use the breast-pump we’d borrowed from the hospital, and that her husband was coming to pick it up from us that afternoon. That guy was Brad, and we’ve been making each other friendship-bracelets ever since our wives shared a breast-pump.
Now it’s strange to think that a man who willingly throws himself down the metal stairs at the train-station would be allowed to breed. Even weirder is how this brute is a pillar of South African street-style.
But it’s like his employee Moentas September says, “Swag is for boys. Umswenko is for men.”
The general dealer and men’s outfitters that is Smith & Abrahams harks back to a time when men wore hats. None of this airy-fairy fashion stuff that’s Instagrammed today, only to be hashtagged as a Throw Back Thursday tomorrow.
Trying to define a store that sells everything from sneakers to sketches of Die Antwoord’s Ninja, is like trying to pigeon-hole the guy standing behind the till. Him of the big body, the art-director’s eye for detail, the metal head’s musical tastes, the anorak’s obsessive collecting and the LOL tattoos. Too rare to kill and too dangerous for mass-production, that’s our Brad, and it’s little wonder then that shopping at Smith & Abrahams is a uniquely personal experience.
Not that he’d ever admit to something like that.
“There’s nothing special,” says Brad. “We’re just a shop that sells stuff that we like.”
Okay then, so what does Mr. Abrahams like?
Growing up in a time before online shopping, megastores, high streets and shopping malls, Brad would frequent the old school outfitters of the day.
“It’s a South African thing,” he explains. “Take Grey St. in Durban. Everyone knows that that’s where you went to go buy your Dobson hats, where the Tsotsi’s bought their white Converse All Stars. I wanted to pay respect to that in a modern way. I remember SGT Pepper in Cape Town. Walking in there felt like being invited into a really cool person’s house. There was just so much stuff: knuckle dusters, basketball vests, metal T-shirts…”
Which is why at Smith & Abrahams you’ll find hot sauce amongst the rows and rows of kicks.
“We’re not based on fashion,” says Brad. “It’s about style. Certain looks will always be good. Guys will always want certain items. And I’ll help them with that.”
Look, it’s okay if you don’t get it, that’s cool, imagine everyone liked the same thing – how boring. However, if you’re into the type of sneaker that won’t be seen on everyone else, if you like weird coffee-table books that will offend your in-laws when they come over for tea, if you’re a fan of classic timepieces, and, most importantly, if you’d like your shopping experience to actually be an experience, then you’ll quickly realize that Smith & Abrahams is more than just a store. It’s like having your own personal shopper, or being married to a stylist without having to deal with the mood-swings and stints in rehab.
“Smith & Abrahams is a complete and utter reflection of who I am and what I believe,” says Brad. “Which means I can do whatever the fuck I want.”
Fine by me, but please, just don’t ever steal my family’s booze or grab me around the testicles again.