Johan Marais-Piper

All Case Studies / Adlays

Much Ado About Adlays

What is an Adlay? Urban Dictionary describes them as:

A young middle class male residing in Sydney's suburbs who attempts to be 'ghetto' and lower class to impress their peers... Their attire generally consists of collared polo or (stolen) nautica shirts, red or white (stolen) nautica hats and their finest jogging shoes.

To me though they are physical manifestations of my fears growing up in the inner-west suburbs of Sydney. There is this sense of innate bravado that I never had but which they carry so confidently. But it was necessary because to them. The inner city suburbs was the Adlay's Savannah and they lived in a dog-eat-dog world. 

Although I was always the gazelle here, I still understood that their aggression was necessary. I assumed that they too at some point grew tired of holding a macho front. What is an Adlay without aggression?

"If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?"

Now, as an adult I really wanted to dive into a world of empathy. Adlays are people too, each with their own insecurities and struggles. I considered what it would be like if bravado was removed. What is an Adlay if they are not looking to steal your shoes, or take your money?

Adlays as Fashion Icons

All else removed, I believe their identity is still evident in their dress sense. As a sub-culture, they have it nailed. So, the illustration series Eshay Sartorialist began, where I imagined what it would be like if we were to see them in their own light.


Illustrator, Cultural Commentator

Illustrator, Photoshop

 ⚡️ H I G H L I G H T S ⚡️


This is a way for me to deal with the ever present fear of having to run away from an adlay in an empty train carriage.


Sharing this online I've received comments from adlays and non-adlays alike. A conversation starter.


A shallow dive into a world of empathy. To understand other people's point of view is important.


Do you need an illustrator?

I love to draw, if you love drawings let's talk. Do you have a blank wall needing paint? A message needing images?

Or.. do you just want to work together on something Would love to collaborate with other artists or take part in group shows.

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