Roughly translated as “common” in Afrikaans, zef is a fashion trend in South Africa that was popularized by the rap-rave duo, Die Antwoord. Now the musical due have leading roles in the No. 1 box office hit, “Chappie.”
With the look of ’80s-redneck-meets-Marilyn-Manson-meets-Flavor-Flav, it’s no surprise that singers Yolandi Visser and Ninja get a lot of negative publicity backlash for sporting zef. But that doesn’t stop them and their flourishing fan club from rocking their odd appeal.
Yolandi and Ninja star in “Chappie,” a top-grossing film by critically acclaimed South African director Neill Blomkamp, writer-director of “District 9.” Just released in the U.S., it’s an action-adventure drama about an artificially intelligent robot cop.
Blomkamp was supposedly listening to Die Antwoord’s music when the vision for “Chappie” began to emerge, Wired reports. The critics were not kind to this film. “Die Antwoord better not quit their day jobs” was the headline in the Washington Post.
But you can’t argue with the fans, who helped make it a top grossing film. Zef will get a chance to permeate the farthest reaches of the planet.
The concept of zef originated in the 1960s and 1970s as a derogatory term to refer to working class whites, including residents of trailer parks, according to Dummies Guide to Zef. It’s an abbreviation of the Ford Zephyr car, popular in the 1950s-1970s. In South Africa, Zephyrs were often souped up.
Editor Frikkie Lombard said zef is “something which is usually considered to be common, but nowadays has credibility.”
Here are 15 ways to be zef in South African street style.
The zef mullet has a slightly different approach than your average Billy Bob mullet. It’s still all business in the front with a party in the back, but with its rough buzz-cut edges and untamed locks made to resemble a large porcupine’s hide, this mullet has its own wild streak.
No, we’re not talking about barbecue this time. Donning grills isn’t just for boxer Mike Tyson, but for any fashionable zef stylist. The more that the grills are adorned with pieces of art, the more zef you will be.
If you already have one of these in your closet, you might already be a closeted zef. Otherwise, just head over to your nearest Walmart or Target and buy them for $5.99. The tackier they are, the more zeftastic you will be.
The full-body hoodies will turn any zef into an adult-sized kid and make them look like they just came from Furry-con. Ranging from Pokemon to Care Bears to bunnies, these hoodies are an excellent way to express yourself and have an excuse for fatty-boom-boom days.
If your tattoo does not look like it was done by an inmate with an electric toothbrush, then you’re doing it wrong. Low quality arts and fonts can be found in random spots throughout their bodies that will leave anybody questioning their criminal past.
If u fink bad tattoos weren’t freeky enough, rats are a must have for any Zefs. Used as accessories or coats, these critters will knock Paris Hilton’s pet chihuahua off its leash.
Kid ‘n Play will either be amused or shaking their heads at this once-dead trend that is rapidly making its reappearance. Ninja’s high top fade proves to be a popular hairdo among his followers. If you can pull off the high top fade into a mullet, you’ll score Ninja points.
Owning more gold chains than Mr. T is what Yolandi preaches. Being Zef is all about showing your bling. Despite being poor and common, you’ve still got it good and you’ve still got style.
In addition the the spooky contact lenses, face painting will complete the full zef (or redneck zombies) look. Whether you powdered your face completely white, drew an animated animal face on yourself, or splashed yourself with artificial blood, it won’t matter. Any type of face art will work for any true zef.
Like what you would find in any developing ’90s teenage girl’s closet, low quality Walmart-esque print bras are a signature Yolandi look. This is good news for Joe Boxer who might finally have a chance to save his dying business.
Being zef means one thing — your clothes should either be too small or too big. You should be swimming in your over-sized shirts as if you just looted them from Biggie Smalls. So if that pair of shorts you just bought is the perfect fit, you better return it back to DollarMart and buy some that are five sizes too big instead.
If it looks like something that Corey Feldman would’ve worn during his “License to Drive” days, then you’ve got it nailed. Don’t go anywhere without one of your most important accessory — your zef shades.
If your fellow zefs have no chance of getting a glimpse of your Joe Boxer Walmart bra, then your midriff is not short enough. Any female (or male) that is confident enough can easily pull off this bold look. You, baby, will be on fire!
If Harold from “Harold and The Purple Crayon” grew up and turned zef, his art would look like the signature artwork of Die Antwoord. Multiple stick figure faces, dollar signs, animals, and odd sayings can be found throughout their black-and-white line art.
Whether they make you look like you’re possessed, contaminated, or a cat, odd and spooky contact lenses are a fun addition to ward off non-Zef people. So save up your money around Halloween, because that is when you’ll be able to get your grubby Zef hands on these products.
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