Tennessee Avenue

An ongoing series of interviews and stories that celebrate the members of the We House Sundays community who are doing amazing things in their own creative worlds. We got to speak with Liam Caledon, the owner of the streetwear label Tennessee Avenue.

Liam Caledon is a designer, hailing from Cape Town. He studied fashion at the Cape Town College of Fashion Design. Liam regards himself as a minimalist designer who mixes streetwear with the runway. You’re bound to find those timeless cuts in a Tennessee Avenue garment. “What I like to do with the brand, I like to keep it simple but effective”, Liam says. The love and deep appreciation for fashion lie within Liam’s family and community roots. His grandfather was in the fashion industry. Fashion is a means of expression in the Coloured community. For many people, your sneakers hold the weight of your value and hard work. Liam’s story emulates the pride that is palpable in sneaker culture. He says, “Where I’m from, sneakers are a big thing. Obviously, with the sneakers, the outfit came and that’s how I kind of fell into fashion. Literally, the love of sneakers, putting the outfit together to go specifically with the sneakers that I want to wear, or planning an outfit that you’re going to get.” Many people can relate to this feeling and ritual. In Liam’s instance, it was this appreciation and love of taking pride in how he presented himself through streetwear, which successfully led to him running his own fashion label. For those who might be wondering about the name, Tennessee Avenue, it comes from the road Liam grew up in. “It comes from Mitchells Plain, Colorado Park. We stayed in Tennessee Avenue for 15 years”, he says. His determination to understand and positively impact the local fashion industry can be seen and felt in his studio. “Become a student of what you love. I’ve always been like that. Anything that I love, I become a student of it. I’ll see what’s the history and how it became what it is today.”

When it comes to creating garments, “I’m not pressurised creatively. When I do create, the only person I have in mind is myself. I create for myself, feel comfortable in it and sell it.” The Tennessee Avenue label goes hand-in-hand with functionality and comfortability. Liam says, “I feel so attached to the garment and the fabric. It’s satisfying to give a client what they want, but the most satisfying part for me is working with the fabric and the patterns.” The label has no specific target market. Liam’s inclusive Tennessee Avenue label aims to adorn anyone who wants to wear it. He notes the founders of the streetwear label 2bop as inspiration for his own success. “I love the streetwear labels that have been pushing out of South Africa. I look up to everyone because I want to see the whole industry move forward. I like keeping it close to home because I can relate to it.” In his studio, Liam makes it his mission to employ People of Colour. “My mandate for machinists is about looking in areas where my family comes from and helping as many families as I can.” Through his conscious efforts, Liam is able to provide financial stability for many who are employed at Tennessee Avenue.

Written By Mandy Alexander