Threading Through The Pandemic: A Floyd Avenue Story

The year 2020 has been tumultuous for most people; to say the least. With the Corona Virus hovering over the world at large and thus halting plans, goals, business endeavours and most importantly, a throng of people’s livelihoods. Covid19 has evoked uncertainty and panic worldwide; with detrimental fatalities peaking at astronomical figures. Amidst the chaos and confusion regarding this pandemic, it is refreshing to witness others continuously thrive during these trying times.

I arrive at FloydAvenue’s fashion studio on a chilled Saturday afternoon and given the current Covid19 pandemic outbreak, it is unsurprising to find the man reclusive and working on pending Covid19 face mask orders. After exchanging greetings and pleasantries, I proceed to peruse through Floyd’s eclectic fashion collection; needless to say, that I am beyond impressed by what I see.

“You caught me on a perfect day”, Floyd breaks the ice.” A few of my friends went hiking today but due to work commitments I couldn’t join them”, he adds. For someone who is seemingly unbothered by FOMO(Fear Of Missing Out), the man is obviously in jovial spirits; a marvel to witness under the circumstances. Floyd proceeds to inform me right off the bat that he is waiting for a client/friend from Centurion who is coming to collect a batch of Covid19 face masks.

“I can’t lie, this pandemic has proven to be profitable for my business”, he enthusiastically exclaims. Our conversation is constantly interrupted by the barrage of phone calls that Floyd keeps getting. My typical journo traits kick in and I eavesdrop on Floyd’s phone conversation, it turns out that his friend from Centurion is a few minutes away and Floyd proceeds to give him directions. This signals to me that business is booming for Floyd Avenue and that the pandemic couldn’t have hit at the right time; although bittersweet, the fruit from Floyd’s tree is appetisingly ripe.

Floyd’s friend, Kim, finally arrives and our discussion deviates to the generic banter of politics. Alcohol ban, corruption and questionable decisions made by the government form part of our sporadic discourse. Much like the derivates of code-switching, business talk eclipses everything and the basis of how Floyd is thriving amid the Covid19 pandemic takes centre stage.

In just two months since the lockdown was first announced, Floyd Avenue (the man and the brand) has been soaring to greater heights. The tangible proof was exhibited conspicuously by the new car parked right outside of Floyd’s studio. In addition to a sleek ride fit for a sleek designer; Floyd bought 5 new sewing machines and is looking to employ 11people. At this point, I’m suddenly hit by the liberating feeling that Covid-19 can yield positive results (excuse the pun) if one looks at the glass half-full. I mean the man plans on having an around the clock CMT (Cut, Make, Trim)production process!

Floyd Avenue keeps growing thread by thread and Floyd’s work ethic is unrivalled. While the interview fans embers, Floyd’s friend (Kim) keeps browsing through the collection and mutters inaudible murmurs of approval. Being the seasoned designer that Floyd is; it is clear as daylight that his confidence levels have settled comfortably through his creative output. Floyd Avenue’s Covid 19 face masks are a certified hit and there’s a modest contingent of clients flocking his home studio in Dobsobville…another tangible feat!

Evidently, with success, comes bludgeoning envy that swings at you when you least expect it. Floyd was recently embroiled in a somewhat bitter exchange with another esteemed fashion designer; one whom he says copied his Covid 19 face mask design. In not so many words, Floyd assures me that everything is hunky-dory and that the aforementioned “tiff” is water under the bridge; gladly so, because he is riding the elusive wave of having his threaded work take a prevalent stance amongst the masses.

“That situation (referring to the preceding incident in question) was not worth my time. I’m glad it didn’t escalate to legalities because it was certainly going to be a landslide victory for me”, Floyd affirms.”In just two months, I’ve accomplished so much. I bought a car (points to the sporty vehicle parked outside) and 5 new(sewing)machines. It’s about time South African designers become affluent and financially liberated. It’s a consistent work in progress but we’re getting there; steadily…” he affirms.

Kim (Floyd’s friend) chimes in:

“We need to embrace, endorse and support our local designers. The likes of MaXhosa(by Laduma), Tshepo(Jeans)and you(points at FloydAvenue). The narrative has to be positive and patriotic, I mean, I trekked to Soweto(coming from Centurion) to support Floyd. It isn’t because I couldn’t find a face mask in Centurion; I opted for quality and I’m certainly a fan of Floyd Avenue’s work…”

It dawns on me, yet again, that Floyd is not just making Covid 19 face masks for convenience purposes but rather products that serve as an extension of self-expression. One thing I cannot negate from this conversation is the playlist compiled by Floyd; an eclectic selection of proudly South African music comprising of legendary acts such as Sankomota, Freddy Gwala, Bra Hugh Masekela and Brenda Fassie to mention but a few. This conclusively solidifies my observations about Floyd; patriotism reeks through his collection and pledging allegiance to his native land is a top priority for the man.

The conversation between myself, Floyd, Kim and *Selepe(*who came to collect his customised Covid 19 face mask) is genuine and riddled with subtle nods of camaraderie. This discussion livens up the FloydAvenue fashion studio and delivers a reassuring glint that there’s hope amid these uncertain times that we live in.

After the casual chatter, I resume my conversation with Floyd, in hopes to unravel what lies beyond the horizon for Floyd Avenue. “I have requested a meeting with my agent(which would have been long concluded by the time you read this piece). A few things imminently looming,” Floyd confidently confirms:-

 PPE(Personal Protective Equipment) production (a subdivision of the Floyd Avenue brand)

 -The e-commerce(online boutique) store (goes live 1st September 2020)

 -Dropping a Spring/Summer collection (1st September 2020)

 Seemingly, there’s no slowing down this already well oiled Floyd Avenue machine. In addition to the above-mentioned projects, Floyd ecstatically drops another exclusive…

 “That’s not all though…” he abruptly pauses to catch his breath. “Kim, is it fine if we let in on what we’re working on”? He politely suggests. The two fellows exchange a simultaneously synced nod and I deduce this to be a sign of approval from both gents. Kim proceeds to fill me in on this”top secret” project excitedly. “I’m working on a collaboration with FloydAvenue.We’re looking to create an Avant-Garde look and feel for my VIP lounge at Habanero Shisa Nyama(Menlyn, Pretoria). I’ve chosen Floyd to design scatter cushions for us and I’m excited about this project. I chose Floyd solely because I’m an avid fan of his work and(I)trust his creative prowess. Aesthetically, (the) Floyd Avenue (brand) is in a league of its own and has boundless limits…”

 Floyd Avenue-the brand is top tier around South Africa, and one cannot help but sense that things can only go a few notches(or rather stitches) up from this point onwards. Personally, what I’ve gathered from Floyd’s poise and stoic sense of work ethic is that one has to be super passionate about their craft; all else can be secondary, just as long as the work speaks volumes and the brand keeps growing in leaps and bounds.

 “From Soweto to Mars my brother…” Floyd replies adamantly when I ask…” where to from here”? “Nothing can hold me back at this point, we are coming for everything…” he concludes. As evening beckons, traces of a fiery red sky prevail and our conversation draws to a close; a tune by Sankomota softly plays in the background. The lyrics are symbolically verbatim about the celebratory mood that is present at the Floyd Avenue fashion studio. A man whose name has been called in the world of fashion design and he gleefully answered; Covid1 9 or not, 

Floyd Avenue soldiers on. 

Off the record extract: A few minutes after our conversation wrapped up, Floyd and I had a brief but insightful chat and I would be doing the man a disservice if I didn’t include the following quote in this article:

 “Even in trying times, we soldier on. I’ve been asking myself why have I been so depressed and mind you, I wasn’t aware that I was going through the motions, and it’s because I’ve always had a ‘never say die spirit. I refuse to give up. The world is currently going through a resurgence, reparations and overall healing. When the lockdown was first announced, some people said that it got so quiet and serene in inner-city/urban areas that one could hear birds chirping. That’s one commendable and positive(no pun) impact this Covid-19 pandemic has had on the world…”- Floyd Avenue

Writer: Tebogo Kawawa