Family matters – like father, like son

Who would dress his son in matching clothes in this day and age? Jackson Biko asks

Family-MattersThere are those men who you will see wearing a brown cap and white shoes and next to them will be their son wearing the exact same attire. A grown man walking the streets, proudly carrying this poor little tot who has no say in his fashion choices, wearing the exact same outfit, sometimes right down to the colour of socks. It used to break my heart. I would look at them and think to myself: what is this, a matching parade of two? Could there be anything more corny, more cheesy, than that? Some even shave their sons in the same hairstyle as themselves. I once watched this chap at the salon give the barber instructions on how he wanted his three-year-old son’s hair to be shaved by pointing at his own. He had this 1976 hairstyle when men used to cut a parting through their hair. Reminded me of the movie Ray – without the music. When his son’s hair was finally done his face lit up like a chandelier and I remember developing a small migraine.

I always knew I was never going to be one of those chaps. It just seemed too exhibitionist. To showy. Too idle. I always thought I was much cooler than that. I would want my son to dress in whatever it was boys dressed up in. I would be that father.

A few months ago I travelled to Madrid and I went to this Adidas shop because I’m nuts about any kind of Adidas merchandise. I think people do all kinds of things in order to get to heaven, when really I think heaven is an Adidas shop. I bought a few things (a few because Adidas isn’t cheap). Then one day, when I was stepping out of the house to take the young man for a shave, I realised that our white Adidas sneakers were matching. We looked like we were headed to the studio to drop an album. But that’s not even the disturbing bit, the most horrifying bit was that instead of being distraught I was thrilled. I was filled with this inexplicable pride. That my son and I belonged to this clan of two: the cool clan.

I later realised that we all want our sons to be replications of who we are: we project ourselves through them. We even try to realise our dreams through them. They are like our projects, a representative of who we are. Where we failed, we want them to win, for them but also for ourselves. We want them to realise dreams we failed to achieve. We want people to see them and see us by extension. It’s sick. And I love it.

Now I buy him the same T-shirts that I buy for myself and the same kind of shoes that I own and the same kind of pants that I wear. He’s my mannequin. He has become my fashion slave beyond the reach of those in authority. Of course this is only temporary, because all this will change when he hits thirteen and I will be a fossil in his eyes. I will be uncool with my weird music and weird pants and shirts that he wouldn’t wear even if they were to save him from pneumonia. So I embrace this time with my Adidas and anything else that I think is cool…