The relationship between fashion and sport in Mbulelo Faluti’s photographic body of work
‘The game of tennis has always been intrinsically-tied with fashion, players endeavored to look their best while swinging their rackets’. – HYPEBEAST
Sports and fashion meet on the tennis court. The love that exists between the two has become an everlasting component of our lives. What was historically acknowledged as a sport for the elite and the classy in country clubs has over the years sparked conversations around its fashion. In addition, there are garments worn on the court that have become essential items in many closets. Brands have recognized this relationship thus bringing fashion and sport even closer. Lacoste, Uniqlo, Off-white and UK based Palace in creating garments for athletes to wear on the court, embrace the significance of particular items worn during matches. It seems that this relationship will transition into a long lasting commitment whereby when we see tennis being played, we will see the life in the fashion garments worn without thinking twice.
The redefining of an intimate link
In his black and white body of work, Mbulelo explores the intimate link that exists between fashion and sport. His exploration is seen through the eyes of a young Black South African fashion trailblazer. His medium of expression in the exploration lies in photographs of minimalist and retro-futuristic fashion. For him, this is the act of redefining the relationship between fashion and tennis.
All Stars in black and white
His choice of sneakers that shelter the subject’s feet is an element that reflects his objective to redefine the intimate link. Faluti expressed that he brought Converse All Stars onto the court because the sneakers are representative of who he is. In addition, his choice was inspired by what he describes as the controversial and political history of the fashion brand. The redefinition comes to life in the monochromatic element of the photographic body of work too. Herein lies his goal to replicate the film used during the dawn of the renaissance of fashion and tennis. What Faluti wants the audience to take home from the series through the black and white element is a handful of emotions he believes the replicated film will instill in us.