I recently joined the Rand Club, which holds a couple of black-tie events each year. When it came time to attend our first fancy function, the Club’s 135th-anniversary gala, Thorsten and I considered his black-tie options. He didn’t own a tux, we didn’t like the idea of renting one for one night, and Thorsten isn’t really a conventional black-tie kinda guy. We decided to turn this chore into an adventure and go to downtown Joburg for a funky, custom-made suit.

A glimpse of the cool Art Deco wall at Quebec House, a high-rise building on the Smal Street Mall.

Thorsten’s friend gave him the number for his tailor, Pape Sidibè. Pape has a studio on the 6th floor of Quebec House, a building on the Smal Street Mall.

The Smal Street Mall is a pedestrian-only street lined with clothing shops, right in the middle of Joburg near the Carlton Centre. Smal Street is not for the faint of heart: it’s chaotic and confusing and you need to know downtown Joburg well, or be with someone else who does, to find your way around. Also Smal Street is a pickpocketing hot spot. But visiting the Smal Street Mall is a thrilling and frenetic experience, with music blaring from all directions and so many interesting people/things/mannequins to look at. It’s worth a trip for the serious Joburg adventurer.

Mannequin in Quebec House
My favorite mannequin in Quebec House, on the same floor where Pape has his studio.
Shoes in Quebec House
My favorite shoes in Quebec House.

Pape’s Real Disco Super Java Suit

We showed up at Pape’s with a Pinterest photo for inspiration; Pape looked at the photo and got to work. First he took Thorsten’s measurements. Then Pape walked with us to Dianna’s, an African wax print wonderland a couple of blocks down the street. Thorsten chose fabric for his suit jacket at Dianna’s, and we went next door to a shop called Kirsch and Stein to get black fabric for the trousers and trim.

Thorsten and Pape
Thorsten and Pape discuss their options. Someday I need to go back to this shop with a proper camera — it’s the most photogenic store in a city full of photogenic stores.
Diana, fabric maven
Dianna, African wax print maven of Johannesburg. Dianna is a force to be reckoned with. She convinced Thorsten to buy one of the loudest prints in the shop — called “Real Disco Super Java” — because that print is “In Process”. I don’t know what In Process means but I know Dianna is right. Dianna’s shop is at 51 Troye Street, near the corner of Helen Joseph Street.

We came back to Smal Street a week or two later for Thorsten’s fitting. I was so excited — definitely more excited than Thorsten was.

Trying on suit
It fits!

The suit fit perfectly so Pape just needed to add the buttons and a few other final touches. We waited around while he finished.

Pape at work
Pape finishing the suit in his tiny studio. The picture on the wall is an election poster from Senegal, where Pape is from.
Pape making suit
The suit has a shiny pink-polka-dot lining.

While we waited, Pape ordered us a delicious Senegalese lunch from a restaurant around the corner.

Senegalese food
A spicy rice and chicken dish, called Thiebou Guinar, prepared by a Senegalese lady named Soda. It was fantastic — spicy but not hot, with a pungent mix of flavors I’d never experienced before. It was enough for two and cost R50 (less than $3).
Thorsten and Pape
Happy Thorsten, happy tailor.

Pape’s Real Disco Super Java suit was a hit at the Rand Club gala, and again a few weeks later at a wedding we attended.

Here we are at the gala. We were super rushed that night and it was too dark for a proper photoshoot, so this was the only photo we managed to take. (Thanks Alicia for helping us get at least one!)
Thorsten at Shepstone Gardens
Last weekend we attended Attiya and Wilhelm’s wedding at Shepstone Gardens, a legendary Joburg wedding venue. We made sure to get there early so I could fully document the Real Disco Super Java. Thorsten is really rocking it now, together with his distinguished new shoes from City Outfitters.
Heather at Shepstone Gardens
I made Thorsten document me too. I love my locally made dress from McAlpine Clothing.
Wedding selfie
Wedding selfie.
Wilhelm and Attiya
Throwing this in because Wilhelm and Attiya are fabulous and it was really nice of them to invite us to their spectacular wedding.

Pape’s Real Disco Java suit cost R4000 (about $230) including fabric, which I think is a damn good deal. Contact him at 073-486-2488.

Thorsten in a Jozi-style black-tie suit
The end.


  1. Albert

    Wow! How amazing to find that tailor. And that waxprint fabric shop! I have had many tablecloth gifts made from this material for friends overseas. Always a hit. Need to find that shop. Looks like she has an amazing range.

    • 2summers

      Yes, it’s incredible. Hot tip: You can book a fabric tour with JoburgPlaces and they’ll take you to that shop.

  2. Phillipa

    You guys look fantastic!!

  3. AutumnAshbough

    GREAT deal on a seriously cool bespoke suit! You look great, too. And so does the bride. Very jealous of your gala!

  4. Thorsten Deckler

    Thank you Heather for the adventure! You are the best! xxx T

  5. Peggy Laws

    You both look great and I love the bride’s dress as well!

  6. Nancy McDaniel

    The tux/suit is fabulous (I LOVE that print best of all of them) and so is your dress. And the wedding gown- OMG. Is that local too? Thanks for sharing. You guys rock it (and the picture of the two of you is too cute for words)

    • 2summers

      Thanks Nancy! I think Attiya’s dress came from the US.

  7. dizzylexa

    Love all the outfits but that jacket of Thorsten’s is just the best. I do wish that one could feel more comfortable in the Smal Street Mall such amazing shops there. I wonder if that wall frieze in Quebec House is not an Edoardo Villa piece.

    • 2summers

      That’s a very good question! It certainly looks like it.

  8. Anneliese Cianfanelli

    You both look so beautiful at both events, love Thorsten’s outfit – but you, Heather look lovely in the wedding outfit, just adorable – congratulations – PS a stunning and tasteful wedding dress.

    • 2summers

      Thank you so much, Anneliese!

  9. tenneymason

    Spectacular. Can you send me a copy of you two on the steps?

    • 2summers

      Thanks Dad. Sure, I’ll email you.


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