The South African designer behind MaXhosa, Laduma Ngxokolo has gained a lot of critical acclaim and commercial appeal for his textile and knitwear work mostly because he is the first black South African designer to focus entirely on knits. His brand, established in 2010 grew out of a desire to celebrate his mother’s legacy, also a designer in the early seventies. Ngxokolo also celebrates Amakrwala, a South African traditional practice where young men seeking to be regarded as adults go through an initiation rite that begins with circumcision and ends with a six month long seclusion from the rest of their tribe and where elders teach the ‘secrets’ of adulthood.
This is quite the premise for creating a design label. For his designs Laduma Ngxokolo draws on Xhosa history and takes inspiration from its elaborate artisanal beadwork that rival Maasai beadwork and is commissioned to commemorate events or celebrate them. He replicates the patterns, colours, maintain its symbolism and expanding its platform of expression using South African spun mohair and wool.
Since then Laduma’s label has received international attention, forming part of the Pitti Uomo’s inaugural Generation Africa showcase in celebration of African Menswear designers. He has also won the Vogue Italia Talents on Set annual showcase and has had his clothes shown at Milan Fashion week.
To explain the history and culture that defines his label, Ngxokolo released this short fashion film narrated entirely in Xhosa, exploring the idea of Amakrwala and its significance to his brand. It’s quite the watch.
The brand was most recently invited to showcase its collective body of work as part of an exhibition on African designers with symbolic cultural roots at the Smithsonian Museum in New York in February 2016. This is a big an honour as it gets for a fashion brand based in Africa, to transcend the fashion tag and have your work showcased as art. We are ever so proud of Laduma Ngxokolo.