In October 2013, at the age of 23, onetime mechanical engineering student Tusa Mamba left behind his studies, navigated securing a loan, and took a gamble on a future-facing retail endeavor dubbed Dipstreet.
Modeled after sneaker concepts like KITH and Rivington Club, Mamba's store launched on little more than the hope that if he built it they would come, if not for the kicks at the very least for the culture.
The first location - a cozy space set away from the Joburg's cosmopolitan Braamfontein area - was nothing short of a crapshoot. The shop was essentially hidden from the main drag, making purposefully finding it or even stumbling upon it a task of considerable effort. On top of that, Dipstreet catered exclusively in streetwear and sneakers - a fairly audacious concept at the time, even from Mamba's perspective.
Despite the early obstacles, Mamba's dedication soon paid off. Before long Dipstreet was the insider destination for South African and international streetwear brands, housing the likes of Young and Lazy, SOL0SOL, 2BOP, Jordan, adidas Originals, Mishka and more. This year the store celebrated another leap forward; Mamba moved into a new, larger location, this time in prime Braamfontein retail space.
We caught up with Mamba to chat about the new location and the changing streetwear landscape in Johannesburg.
Why did you feel like the time was right for a concept like Dipstreet?
I guess it's never really the right time. I was just tired of living in my dreams, and Johannesburg had no specialized sneaker and streetwear store at the time.
You relocated this year, what was the catalyst behind that?
Basically two reasons: First, I've wanted a street level store for a while seeing as our old spot was on the hidden on the quieter part of town. Second, getting robbed twice in a short space of time sped up the need to move.
What inspired the design and layout of the newer space?
I'm all about aesthetics. I wanted a place that looked clean from all angles and felt inspired by galleries as well as VSCO and Instagram vibes. I couldn't decide between black and white so I decided to have both, separated. Around the same time a good friend of mine, Charles, came up with the new logo. It looks a lot like square bar, so we knew we had to use that as the material of choice. After that, the rest just fell into place.
What are some favorite brands you guys are carrying?
SOL-SOL and 2BOP.
What is the process for deciding to stock a brand?
I think for starters one has to consider quality. After that I think about consistency or the potential to be consistent and relevant in the South African scene. Lastly and most important, it should be dope. If it's not something I'd personally use or wear, or something that would be used by someone I think has a cool style then I wouldn't stock it.
What's one of the most coveted pieces at Dipstreet right now?
All the dope kicks pretty much sell out on release day so I'd say the GoodGoodGood "Yarmulke Short Cap."
What's been the biggest challenge of maintaining the store?
I'd say getting the money to put my ideas in place and getting the bigger brands to believe, understand and support the vision. It can be especially hard when you're young, black and independent.
Find out where else to visit on your next trip to Joburg with our 24-hour guide to the bustling city.