”Written byAlice Viskat
“I want to constantly push myself to create something better and see how far I can go.”
Whether you’re traversing the streets of Observatory in search of a cheap Chow Mein or you’re weaving through the crowds at Yours Truly, you’ve no doubt spotted an angel on the back of someone’s T-shirt, floating on a cloud and smoking a cigarette. Maybe it’s not an angel, but a sobbing heart running after their beloved with a flower. Either way, Illucid Apparel has probably caught your eye at some stage.
Ghilian Chevelu, founder of Illucid Apparel, seems to have the magic touch when it comes to blending a variety of contrasting elements like angel numbers, graffiti, hieroglyphics, religious symbolism, sailor tattoos and roman sculptures and creating a hugely successful brand and much sought-after clothing.
From selling stickers, to having a modest collection at a surf shop in Plettenberg Bay, to setting the Cape Town scene on fire, Ghilian has grown the brand exponentially in the space of just two years. The uniqueness of his style and the fact that each collection is limited edition creates a loyal and exclusive fanbase.
“I still get messages from people wanting shirts from a previous collection but I’ve already moved onto a new thing. As time goes, the brand grows and everything improves. Someone might really like the previous design but I can see how much the quality has improved and I’ve improved artistically, simple things that they might not even notice. I want to constantly push myself to create something better and see how far I can go.”
“When you’re walking in the street wearing an Illucid shirt and you see someone else also wearing one, it creates this moment where only you and they know and it forms this kind of connection.
Ghilian attributes his unique style to his many travels. After high school, he took two years to explore the world and immerse himself in a multitude of different cultures which shaped his life and his art. He is also hugely inspired by Tyler the Creator and Keith Haring.
“I found Tyler in 2012. Funny enough we were in business class and Mr Coertze went out for… I don’t know, to get a coffee or something. Siya put the “Yonkers” music video on the projector and it kind of blew my mind. He’s such a multi-faceted artist and he’s really changed the game. His art ranges between acting, art and music, he’s got his own brand and he’s done fashion shows.”
Ghilian’s abundance of creative brilliance extends further than just Illucid Apparel. He also studies graphic design at Inscape and creates illustrations, jewellery and furniture. A big highlight in his personal career was being chosen by Inscape to exhibit his furniture at the Design Indaba in 2020. He was also recently given a storefront to exhibit his design work at Menlyn Mall in Pretoria, also through Inscape.
With his design work gaining more recognition and Illucid Apparel growing in popularity, his goal is still to keep his fanbase small and loyal. “Illucid isn’t made for everyone,” he says, “it’s created for the skaters, surfers, extreme sportsmen and artistically inclined.” It’s for anyone who isn’t straight-laced or run of the mill.
“I don’t see Illucid as just a clothing brand, my goal with it is trying to create a community.”
“When you’re walking in the street wearing an Illucid shirt and you see someone else also wearing one, it creates this moment where only you know and they know and it forms this kind of connection. I don’t see Illucid as just a clothing brand, my goal with it is trying to create a community and that’s why I’m keeping it niche.”
So, how can you join this community of stylish outlaws, you ask?
Illucid Apparel items can be found in-store at Blood Orange and Uncles art gallery or you can simply order online through the official Instagram page @illucid_apparel. Keep your eyes peeled especially for his new collection of hoodies and shirts dropping sometime in the next month! For Ghilian’s personal designs and illustrations, check out A Gallery You Can Eat At or his personal Instagram account @ghilian_chevelu.
Another option is to wait for the next First Thursday and wander over to the Illucid Apparel pop-up store where you’ll probably find Ghilian with his signature red, white and black spray paint in hand, customising a leather jacket which was eagerly surrendered by a fan, and watch transfixed, hoping he’ll do the same to yours.
Want to see yourself up here alongside Ghilian Chevelu? Follow these simple steps.
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