Flying Fish Shoes

Exclusive Q&A with Shelflife


It takes an exceptional kind of confidence and a fresh approach to realise that setbacks are really just opportunities in disguise.

Flying Fish took a beer and added awesome flavours to bring you a product that’s fresh and completely unique. In the same pioneering spirit, Shelflife took inspiration from a graffiti supply store and turned it into one of the most flavoursome sneaker institutions in SA.

With the opening of their new Joburg store recently, we caught up with the Shelflife team and covered everything from sneaker culture in SA to celeb collabos.

1. How did Shelflife come about?

Shelflife started 10 years ago in Cape Town as a graffiti supply store. It was quickly realized that we needed other revenue streams to stay afloat and started introducing sneakers and streetwear. We approached a few brands who were apprehensive at first, so we started off small stocking Onitsuka tiger and New Balance. And now from years of hard work and marketing we have accomplished the highest fashion level accounts on the African continent with really big brands being stocked.

2. How did the creativity of graffiti inspire you to get into the sneaker game?

Sneakers, graffiti and street culture were all born and adapted by the streets. They all go hand in hand with each other. Without the graffiti base, Shelflife in the infant stages would never have survived. This was the driving force of the brand and helped us move into a more commercial space and into the sneaker game

3. Do you think sneakers are a vehicle for self-expression? 

Yes, definitely. Sneakers have always been an integral part of fashion, since the early 80s. Sneakers have changed a lot over the years, of course, but still form a massive part of everyday fashion, which is, of course, the biggest form of self-expression out there.

4. How would you describe sneaker culture in SA in three words?

Blossoming, exciting, aspirational.

5. Who are the biggest influencers when it comes to sneaker trends?

Musicians and sportsmen.

6. What are the sneaker trends for summer?

Lots of new technology and materials applied to retro silhouettes.

7. Which brands are the most popular in SA?

We don't sway towards one or two in particular, as we need to cater for all types and offer them a decent selection. “Variety is the spice of life,” as they say.

Flying Fish Life Is Short

8. Is there a difference between the CPT and JHB market?

There is a difference, we are still new in Jozi and trying to establish the differences, but the culture is here and they have been waiting for us judging by the response we have got. 

9. What's the most underrated brand?

Probably Reebok, and now that it is under the care of Adidas we expect to see some great things.

10. What motivated you to open to JHB store now? How has the reception been so far?

The owner and founder Nick has been planning to open a JHB store for some years now, but like anything it’s all about timing. The reception has been great and we couldn’t have asked for more, we’re so happy to finally be here.

11. What's the deal with ladies’ sneakers? Is there any actual difference or is it only the colours and sizes?

It depends on the brand, sometimes it’s a slight size difference, but other than that nothing really.

12. Where do you see the SA sneaker scene in the next ten years?

Just going from strength to strength. Better product, better stores and more sneaker fanatics.

13. What are your thoughts on celeb collabos? Any favourites? 

I think they’re great and always add another element to the game. The Kendrick Lamar Reeboks earlier this year were great for us. People love the Fentys from Rihanna and we looking forward to more in the next few months.

14. Shelflife has been around for a while now, how do you maintain relevance and grow the brand?

We do things properly and realise that the devil is in the detail. We tell proper stories and try provide a superior service and experience for our valued customers. Without debate we are SA's premier sneaker store, so why would you shop anywhere else?

Find your next sneaker fix. Hit up the Joburg store here: JHB: 21 Keyes Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196