Deriving their name from a wild fruit and their style inspiration from previous generations, Darnelle Thompson and Aldridge Elasto of the new fashion collective Cocona Style say they want to bring something different while staying true to their individual identity.
We got a chance to raid their closet and see some of their favorite looks. Threads with bold colors and cuts, accompanied by retro and Asian inspired infusions were their outfit picks for the day. Not only did we get to capture their looks and got an idea to who they are, we also got to pick their brains and hear their thoughts regarding the current South African fashion landscape.
Cocona The Collective Name
“We want to be different. So we sat down and worked on coming up with a collective name that represents that,” says Aldridge, a 24 year old artistic Zimbabwean native who breathes art – being a dancer, videographer and a lover of fashion. Cocona is a wild fruit that looks like a berry but tastes like a tomato hence being regarded as ‘strange’, everything that the collective is. “Appearances aren’t always what you may perceive them to be”, says Darnelle. Born and bred in Eldorado Park, the 23 year old defines herself as a shy being that is creative about the way she expresses herself.
The Cocona Style collective gets inspiration from important people in their lives. Aldridge gets his inspiration from his father, who had “a very unique dress sense”. From the outfits to the accessories – chains, rings and hats. While Darnelle gets hers from her shy personality and of course, her mother. She explains that she uses fashion as a tool to be loud and bold without having to use any words or at least limited social interaction. “Most of what I wore from this shoot is from my mom’s closet,” she adds. Ultimately, every generation samples fashion and style from the one before.
Fashion Progression in South Africa
“I think D and I have different opinions about the progress of fashion in South Africa,” Aldridge quickly interjects. Darnelle believes that there are certain people in the forefront of cultivating the progression. She was not very keen on name dropping as “this may seem like they are the only people bringing about this change,” she protested. But she mentioned Trevor Stuurman, Manthe Ribane, Petite Noir and Nonku Phiri. “People who can afford to buy from expensive retailers automatically assume they are influencers, well some are, but it’s mostly copy and paste,” she added. On the other hand Aldridge believes that there is no progress, or at least not at the expected rate. “I like what ShoMadjzoi is doing, she is not just growing music and fashion, but culture too,” he adds.
The duo has styled radio personality McG. “That to date is our biggest project because we are fairly new. We are not even a year old,” says Darnelle. ‘We are also working with other collectives on photo shoots, fashion films, and styling.”