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Behind the design of the Izinto Towers T-Shirt

Usually, the first thing one thinks of when picturing the Soweto skyline is the Orlando power station cooling towers. They have been around since 1951 and one serves as an advertising billboard, while the other has the largest mural painting in South Africa. These towers have become an increasingly noticeable landmark in Soweto and are symbolic of the strength and resilience possessed by the residents. They have stood strong for over six decades and have witnessed the very colourful history of the place they call home. 

The Oxford dictionary of English defines minimalism as “[a] deliberate lack of decoration and adornment in style or design”. Minimalism makes content stand out and lets it be the focal point. Visually, it is meant to be calming and to bring the mind down to the basics. Less, really, is more. With minimal content to process, the important information is at the forefront and there is no confusion about what is being communicated. Wearing simple clothing reflects a sense of mindfulness of one’s surroundings and of oneself. 

Only having the Soweto towers on the T-shirt shows the importance of these towers in Sowetan’s lives. They represent the never-dying spirit and recognisability of the Sowetan. These are people that stand out in a crowd, much like the towers do along the horizon. And just like the mural on one of the towers, we are an infusion of different skills, experiences and especially languages because of our diverse surroundings. 

As we know, nothing around us is meaningless or random, and colours are no exception. They are symbolic. The Izinto towers T-shirt is an off-white colour, the one tower is red, while the other is green. The Izinto logo has been placed at the forefront  on a background of a light pink circle on top of the towers. Let’s break down what each colour symbolises. 

Off-white is considered a neutral and calming colour. It carries some of the same pureness, softness and cleanliness of white but is slightly richer with a warmer undertone. This reflects the atmosphere of Soweto. A new (post-apartheid) era has brought about some purity after the gruesome history it holds. So even though a brighter day has come, the blood-stained past isn’t forgotten. Now there is a sense of softness and the fears around Soweto have, almost completely, been calmed. 

Red is determined, assertive, enthusiastic, powerful, passionate and exciting. It symbolises courage, action and confidence. Having one of the towers in this colour is symbolic of the rising enthusiasm, power and exciting passion growing amongst the people, and especially the youth, of Soweto. There is determination to represent this wonderful place. 

Green is the colour of life, renewal and growth. It is also traditionally associated with ambition and money. The colour has healing power and is understood to be restful and relaxing. The second tower is in this colour and it perfectly represents the life, renewal and growth of Soweto. Especially in terms of becoming a tourist attraction and generally trying to become a place of income generation since the lift of banning the creation of employment centres in 1977. 

Light pink is the colour of universal love of oneself and others. It represents friendship, harmony and approachability. These are qualities that the Izinto brand is trying to promote with this new tee. It is to try and promote pride amongst Sowetan’s to represent where they are from and to show that it is not as scary as some people might think. Anyway, it’s not like we needed the reminder to represent where we are from, because we already do so – proudly! We love representing this extraordinary place. But a reminder and a new means to do so is always appreciated. 

  • Written by: Mohau Wa-Luruli