Knitwear With a Generous Touch of Xhosa
Designer Laduma Ngxokolo has a knitwear line called MaXhosa that is described as being bold and edgy, and inspired by bead work from South Africa’s Xhosa community.
Whilst other boys played soccer outside, Ngxokolo spent his childhood knitting with his mother. This time spent working on his craft at a young age has earned him fans across the fashion world including the likes of Beyonce.
Not seeing anything out there, he got a light bulb moment, “I came up with the concept of taking Xhosa traditional bead work and then translate those patterns into modern patterns that is suitable for knitwear,” Ngxokolo said.
Now his designs can be found in stores in Johannesburg and Capetown, South Africa, and also in Namibia and Europe. And recently he launched an online store.
“Since I started my brand I’ve realized over the years that people don’t buy my knitwear because of the function that it has…people buy my knitwear because they want to make a statement,” he said.
“Its about heritage, it’s about tradition. it’s about how we can connect through a garment,” said Omoyeni Akerele, the founder of Lagos Fashion and Design week where Ngxokolo’s line MaXhosa was critically acclaimed.
The material used to make the fashion line is a luxurious silk-like yarn from the hair of the Angora goat. This can be found abundantly in his home town of Port Elizabeth.
As an African emerging designer, Ngxokolo has come across some rode blocks. “We face access to resources and finance. In terms of resources, the infrastructure that we have in Africa is not the best in the world. So, often cases where you want to offer the best product in the world – you have to go and manufacture from China but that is not necessary but if you do it locally, it means that you would spend 10 times more than you would have spent in Asia,“he added.
But this has not stopped him from pushing to achieve his dreams. Ngxokolo’s unique mix of old cultures merging with current fashion trends has won him numerous national and international awards, including the prestigious 2015 Vogue Italian Scouting for Africa prize.
Online store: MaXhosa by Laduma