“There’s always been a history of sportswear in UK culture” – FRAKSHA

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2016 is undoubtedly the year grime has made it’s resurgence – this time not only in the UK and Europe – it’s also made it’s way to Australia. A previously relatively niche scene has erupted; giving top MC’s such as Footsie, D Double E and Stormzy the chance to tour our country. With brands such as Stone Island and Paul & Shark more popular than ever, it’s clear the effect grime has on youth fashion. We spoke with Melbourne’s Australia’s favourite grime MC, Fraksha, about the UK’s influence on Australian street style and his own crep collection.

Shelly: After watching any grime music video, it’s evident street and sportswear are uniform for the genre and it’s community. How has grime influenced your style? Growing up in the UK, who would you say you looked up to?

Fraksha: I don’t think it’s a grime style as such, more just a UK street style that pre-dates grime or any other recent genre. Other genres such as jungle, DnB, garage all shared much of the same styles and although they all may have certain things individual to them all you’d definitely see the same stuff at a jungle rave in 1997 as you would at a garage rave in 1999 as you would at a grime rave in 2002 as you would now in the present day. It’s not even like it’s tied to the music or any genre really, you go up north and kids listening to happy hard-core would be wearing the same stuff still. The prevalence of sports shops in England, there’s multiple JD Sports in every town for example, definitely contributes to it, but there’s always been a history of sportswear in UK cultures, look at skinheads in their Fred Perry and Lonsdale, casuals in the various brands they’ve always worn etc.

Me personally I’ve always been into loud, garish looks, matching everything from your shoes to your watch and I think someone I looked up to musically and was an inspiration fashion wise from a younger age was Skinnyman. You’d always see him about flossing in a different Avirex jacket with everything matching and so from the moment I first saw him I was like ‘I gotta get an Avi’. Eventually I got one and that was a happy day haha though you had to careful ‘cos they were sought after items. I remember catching a chase from 3 older dudes who saw me wearing it and hopped out their car after me. Trying to run with one of those on your back hopping fences is a workout I tell you!

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We often see a lot American rappers lose interest in wearing Nike and Adidas once they become successful, instead opting for more luxurious brands, however when MCs such as Wiley and Novelist prosper they choose to remain with the aformented. Why do you think this is?

There was definitely a trend for a while of people wearing higher end brands, but it’s gone back to basics more-so in the last 2-3 years. I think a lot of that perhaps has something to do with the UK scene realising it can stand on its own and doesn’t need to look to America so much where it might have done so in the past. The American scene was what a lot of people aspired to and wanted to be like, now you see in many ways the Americans are looking to the UK.

Things go in swings and roundabouts though and I’m sure we’ll changes again in the not too distant future as the scene gets more and more successful worldwide and we see more money coming into it.

With the grime community in Australia steadily growing, the fashion seen in raves near mirrors those of the UK. Why do you think Australia has embraced grime more than any other “recent” subculture? (I don’t like using the word recent but hey, it’s new to most people).

Australia has always embraced UK scenes to a degree but I think grime is perhaps one of the first UK scene that’s exploded to the degree it has since the advent of social media and so that has definitely had a huge affect on it. If you look back to when garage first went big in England this was like late 90’s/early 2000’s, back then there was no Youtube, Facebook, Instagram so you didn’t have the visuals to connect with it the way you do now.

Also grime is an exciting and different sound to anything else around at the moment, it’s like a slap in the face that you can’t ignore. It also has a very ‘common man/woman’ vibe to it, it’s within reach and attainable to everyone, its not all platinum and furs and bottles of Cristal. With a lot of rap music the artists can appear to put themselves on a pedestal and seem so far removed from your average person, grime isn’t like that at all.

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Awhile back we saw Skepta unveil his all black Nike BW (although information about it’s release has been scarce); which MC and brand would you like to see collaborate?

I don’t tend to go for artist collaborations, I find they tend to be a bit overhyped and underwhelming in reality, but it’s a big look for the artist themselves and good recognition for the scene in a way.

Kano and Reebok should have done something for his latest album, that would have worked really well considering the whole ‘this is England’ vibe of the release, a special edition Classic or something.

What are your favourite three pairs you own?

It’s a real hard question, but at the moment I’d say the Fly-knit Air Max 2014, Triple white Pegasus ‘89 and the Reebok Classic with the Ice sole.

What trend/crep would you like to see stop?

Never been a fan of Jordan or any basketball shoe really, bit moonboot like to my eyes.

I find this whole ‘vintage’ re-selling thing a bit strange too, I find it hard to understand how you can call anything Nike or similar labels vintage just because it’s a few years old. Give it a rest! The term gets thrown around way too much.

Last but not least – WDYWT?

Stoney track-suit and a pair of white Fila’s which I have no idea the name of, just some chunky tennis shoe.

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50/50 Presents Fully Gassed #5 is happening this Friday 30th September at Grumpy’s Fitzroy with giveaways from the Saintside crew. Check your local guides for more information.

Words: @poloshelly, @fraksha 

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