“TO THE HOMIES WHO’VE HATED
DOUBTED AND LAUGHED, WHO COME
TO US NOW FOR AFFILIATION,
VALIDATION AND ANY FORM OF COME
UP, THIS GARMENT IS NOT FOR YOU…
reads the first card in a stack held together by a rubber band and placed diagonally next to a pair of black sunglasses, which effortlessly makes up a frame on Anees Petersen’s evocative Instagram page.
The bravado of this statement fits something an underdog would say after they have won. Almost seven years ago, Anees started his streetwear brand, Young and Lazy, in Cape Town, South Africa and even though it looks like he is winning, it does not feel like he has won yet.
Anees’ ascent has grown him immensely as a designer. After being pushed in the right direction by his design teacher in high school, Anees studied fashion at Cape Town College of Fashion Design. He then opened a store with two other local brands and got his first job at Woolworths as a kids wear design assistant. Anees then got involved with “designer wear” at House of Monatic in the marketing department. He soon moved on to work closely for his South African design idol, David West, who unfortunately closed down causing Anees to work tirelessly at Unknown Union, where he got to show a collection abroad with trade shows in America and some pieces being sold in Japan and the UAE.
In 2012, Anees reverted his attention to Young and Lazy, now with a wealth of experiences in the design world and fashion industry. Anees had also been emulating other brands while he was still trying to find his identity and be secure within it. A solid source of inspiration has been his personal story and being the person he is, “where I’ve come from and who I am as a person, being a Cape Malay from Cape Town, you know, being born in the time I was born and to see the things that I’ve seen on a daily basis growing up in Woodstock when Woodstock obviously was not gentrified and I think for me that’s a story that is important to be told.”
Anees is also designing for his sixteen year old self. “I think for a lot of young Muslim kids from Cape Town…my hope is for them to be like, ‘fuck, you know, it’s actually cool to be Muslim. It’s okay to be into streetwear and all this stuff’…It’s okay to be proud of where you come from, embrace it, own it and use it basically as a thing to stand out.”
Young and Lazy is personal. It is not just a cool factory. It is a production that is built on Anees’ back. There is no process Anees is not involved in. It is all him. This DIY model ensures that Anees is felt throughout his brand. A couple of years ago, Anees even decided to pick a camera and shoot his lookbooks in order to capture details that hold the essence of Young and Lazy. His firm grip on his label has allowed him to learn intricacies of the production process and provide a South African brand that is sure of itself.
“I think Young and Lazy stands for those who do not conform to the norm. It’s about embracing yourself and being okay with yourself when you might not be the best. Like no one is ever going to be perfect and I think Young and Lazy just represents imperfection at its best,” said Anees. The people that fill up the frames of Anees’ Instagram page look like they have exhaled into themselves. It’s that work, the work that it takes to be yourself that gives Young and Lazy it’s inviting ease.
The authenticity of this brand attributes to Anees’ noteworthy achievements throughout the years. However, success means more to Anees. Success means being internationally recognised for design. Success means being the cornerstone of streetwear in South Africa. Success means being incomparable. Success means being celebrated for being yourself.
As Anees and I fantasise over being someone else, someone everybody surely wants to be, we ponder on how a life like Virgil Abloh’s is acquired. Anees attributed it to hard work and I can’t help but make links between him and Virgil. Earlier this year, Anees started DJing because “clothing is not enough”. There is no doubt of Anees’ genius as he expresses himself creatively through various mediums. Although subtle, Anees knows the value of everything he has to offer. Although slow, his steady pursuit to leave a legacy is likely.