All words by Custard X
Meet 34-year-old Maruwaan Emandien.
By now I’m sure the whole country is well acquainted with the Cape Crusader, YoungstaCPT, but what they fail to identify is a whole separate entity that is Y?GEN Apparel. With over a decade in the industry, the brand, off the cuff of YoungstaCPT, is now a self-sustaining operation that has taken the country by storm. Recently, you would’ve seen the label posted up at Riky Rick’s Cotton Fest where the local textiler sold-out on his limited edition, exclusive collab of ‘Cotton Giembas’ t-shirts.
Last year, Y?GEN Apparel opened up its own store in the heart of Wynberg.
“This was a movement long before it was a business.”
Custard X: Identify yourself
“I am Maruwaan Emandien, ¼ owner of Y?GEN Ent. And the ou in charge of the apparel side of things. SALUTAS.”
Custard X: Where were you born and raised?
“Ocean View, born and bred.”
Custard X: How long have you been on this journey and how did it initially start?
“Ever since myself and my brother, Riyahd (YoungstaCPT) had our first chat when we were younger; he was going to do his thing – it didn’t matter what it was and I was going to be there to support him. I was with Y?GEN right from the beginning. I think it was in 2012 when we put the first garments together for the ‘SALUTAS’ music video – it was literally just the word ‘salutas’ on a cap, but this was the start of something extraordinary and you could just feel it. In many ways, this thing is like our laatie and its been amazing to see how it has grown exponentially over the years.”
Custard X: What has been the highlight of your career?
“Honestly, for me it’s always been to get people to believe in the brand as much as I do, as we do – the shop was inevitable. I want people to share my belief and to see people truly invest in this brand means more to me than anything else. I always asked myself, “what if?” what if this happened and that happened, and it rendered YoungstaCPT out of action? For me, getting the apparel side of things to operate without my brother as the driving force was something that I had to think about. That’s why I tried to incorporate other local apparels for collabs as well as using elements from Kaapstad to truly create something symbolic for anyone from the western region – this has since exploded, as the brand is now in demand across the globe.”
Custard X: Do you remember the first time you printed your first garment? How did it feel?
“It wasn’t so much the physical feeling of seeing my print on a garment, that for me, is something entirely different – the magic, however, came from seeing some random person going about their day-to-day life in my garment. That, for me, is an unbelievable feeling. Symbolism goes hand-in-hand with impact and I believe that what we are doing here at Y?GEN is impactfully symbolic.”
Custard X: Being a local textiler, what are some of the problems you have faced?
“Loadshedding, drugs, alcoholism, disease, abuse, rape – these are all fundamental issues in our community. The ouens who work in the factory come from the real Kaapstad, not this bullshit paradise that’s been wrongly portrayed by social media. These socio-economic issues have been with us since birth, we can’t escape it, so it’s about working our way around it and trying to be as supportive for the next person – at the end of the day, kindness doesn’t cost a cent.”
Custard X: What would you say to someone with the same passion and drive as you? What would an entrepreneur need to do in order to get where you are today?
“Be consistent, stay relevant – that is all.”
Custard X: Where do you see Y?GEN Apparel brand in the next 5 years?
“I want to see this brand in every area around the world. I want to see it being worn by everyone in the world. I have big aspirations. This brand was initially started to give people of colour a voice, but it has since transformed and blossomed – the label is not race-specific and it has no ethnicity – into something so much more. We are all human beings trying to make our way in this world, my buzz is; why not do it together?”
Custard X: What’s next for Maruwaan Emandien?
“My own prerogatives have been put on hold because I have put mine all into this brand. I do, however, want Y?GEN Apparel to the franchise, other provinces/cities deserve to have a piece of us, too. Eventually, my goal is to be the ultimate supplier, from start to finish and this is something I am making moves towards.”
Maruwaan Emandien will continue holding it down at his very own shop, Y?GEN Apparel which can be located On The Blocc, Exeter Corner, Wynberg – when the time is right, feel free to pop in and browse through a range of the labels latest merch and say a big SALUTAS to the man who is literally doing it all at the moment.