Romello Shembe Fighting Gang Violence Through Fashion

Romello Shembe was just another youth in the Eldorado Park, washing people’s takkies to make an extra buck until he came up with an idea that speaks directly to ills of his community through his clothing brand, Antigang.

Located on the South of Johannesburg, Eldorado Park is one of the townships ridden by social ills such as unemployment and high crime. The latter is a particularly a big headache for the community, as many young boys and girls are roped into joining gangs. Shembe started his brand as a way of fighting the gang violence in the township affectionately known as Eldos.

Romello Shembe wearing Antigang clothing. Photo supplied

“Antigang was found in 2020 November, but I was working on my plans for months before actually going with the idea. In Eldorado Park most have witnessed criminal activities as well all kinds of violence. But not many will stand up against it cause it’s like a culture now. I believe that some of us got use it,” Shembe tells Spot-On.

The 22-year-old comes across challenges in his fight, with gangsters around him showing him disdain for the work he does. “Sometimes those doing all the wrong stuff in and around the community would mock the idea of Antigang and sometimes make a fool out of me.”

Relaxing in Antigang Clothing. Photo supplied

Shembe has never been part of a gang himself but has seen a lot of people around him get into the Apache lifestyle. “I was never part of a gang. I’ve seen some of my friends and family members falling into gangs and hanging out with dangerous individuals. I always see young people selling or using drugs. Some steal cars, others highjack the Uber drivers on a daily basis. So, I was never interested in joining a gang. Since I was a child, I always wanted to see change in Eldorado Park,” says Shembe.

Antigang apparel is mostly active wear that includes t-shirts, hoodies and jogging pants. “I also make clothing from raw materials, like tailor made, making them from scratch.” Shembe doesn’t have a physical store yet but pushes his products through pop-up shops in Eldorado or people can buy from his website.

“People do support, not always in high numbers but they do. I’m more concerned about change, people being touched by the brand and stand with the idea of Antigang. And also, the community I live in most people aren’t working, so not a lot of people around me supports me not only due to financial reasons but some just doesn’t believe in Antigang.”

Positive Swag: Antigang clothing. Photo supplied

Shembe still has his sneaker-washing business but because of a medical condition known as Chilblains which is the painful inflammation of small blood vessels in the skin that occur in response to repeated exposure to cold but not freezing air. “Every winter I get something called Winter Fingers. When customers come during winter time I get help from my friends,” says Shembe.

To purchase any of Antigang clothing you can visit their website here