We caught up with Cape Town skateboarder Salik Harris from Leaf Apparel to find out more about his brand.
Photos – Joubert van Staden
When did you start Leaf Apparel and what was your motivation?
I started Leaf Apparel in 2011, after working in clothing stores for most of my teenage years. I fell in love with clothing and the way people express themselves by it, some of the stores I worked for were Diesel, Ed Hardy, Gant, Style Lab and Guess. They all taught me different things, but at the end it was the love of the finished product that had me motivated to try to learn the process of making clothing.
You’ve been skating for years, was the idea to make Leaf a skate-affiliated brand from the outset?
I have been skating for about 17 years now, before I started the brand, and yes my intent has always been for it to be a skate affiliated brand, so I could give back to what skateboarding has given me.
You make all of your clothes locally, can you tell us about that?
So I have a studio based in downtown Cape Town and we manufacture all Leaf items in-house, to maintain a certain level of quality. I found it hard to produce at CMTs as they always push small runs to the side. Manufacturing in-house also helps me with my sampling process, because I can run samples over and over again until I feel the product is fit for the market.
You were recently in Dubai for the Sole DXB event, what went down over there?
Sole DXB is definitely one of the best streetwear festivals in the world, it’s a platform for young designers to be on par with strong brands such as Dior, adidas, Levi’s and many more! The experience of being there was truly overwhelming, some of the artists this year included Nas, ASAP Rocky and Joey Badass. The event was well planned, and very informative for a designer, as they had all the fashion icons coming to do talks on how they made it in the fashion industry. Shout out to @soledxb for making it happen!
Who is on your team and how did you go about picking the riders?
The team consists of a few friends who became family over the past few years. They all helped me grow this brand and are considered brothers. They are all so different in their personalities, as well as skateboarding style. I think that they go well together, the team consists of: Charl Jensel, Joshua Chisholm, Marcel Maassen and Alex Williams. There are also a few other guys that I flow product to, I feel like as the brand grows then so the team will too.
Tell us about this trip up the west coast, when did it go down and how long were you on the road for?
We went up the west coast a few weeks back and stayed for the full weekend. We were looking for new spots, it’s always nice to find things that no one else has skated, it was amazing to have all the boys together in an unfamiliar setting. We had so much fun on and off our skateboards, which is really important, as team building is something that I feel is a must! And of course we had to hit the Langebaan park, as the house we stayed at was just around the corner.
The Langebaan concrete park has been a popular weekend mission destination for skaters from Cape Town for a few years, what’s the vibe like there and do you have to pay to skate it at the moment?
The Langebaan park has not changed one bit from when it opened up a few years ago, the only difference now is that you have to pay to enter, and they in turn service the place and make sure everything is running smoothly, which I can appreciate. It’s definitely a fun park with a little something for everybody.
The west coast can be pretty brutal when it comes to wind, you guys must have had a few battles there?
The battle was real when it came to the wind, We actually had the trip planned for the weekend before but had to cancel due to rain, but we managed to brave the harsh winds and yet still managed to have fun.
Who was MVP on the trip and why?
I think Joshua really kept the spirit alive with his personality, and kept everyone happy. But Alex is a kid to watch out for as he really can skate and destroy any obstacle.
Where can someone reading this get Leaf Apparel from?
We’re proudly available from Baseline Skate Shop.
What’s next for Leaf Apparel and the crew, any other plans coming up?
We plan to do many skate trips with the team on a regular basis, keep your eyes peeled for the next trip.
Check out the tour video, if you haven’t seen it yet: