MaXhosa is the luxury knitwear brand which exudes chic, bold and beautiful patterns from traditional Xhosa beadwork symbolism and colours. The man responsible for this captivating brand is Laduma Ngxokolo and his wearable art is inspired by his wish to recapture a nostalgic element of Xhosa culture that celebrates traditional aesthetics in a modern and stylish way.
Born in 1986 and raised in South Africa, Laduma’s design journey was started by his mother, who imparted him with an invaluable skill by introducing him to a hand knitting machine. Whilst studying textile design & technology at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, he created a conceptualised project called The Colourful World Of The Xhosa Culture. His collection was showcased in Johannesburg and since then his knits have adorned catwalks across the World, from London to New York and from Berlin to Paris.
Laduma wanted to create a modern Xhosa-inspired knitwear collection for young men who have completed the ritual of circumcision. By tradition Amakrwala (Xhosa initiates) dress up in dignified formal clothing for six months after the ritual and, as someone who experienced this first hand, Laduma felt compelled to create MaXhosa.
“I decided to call the name of my brand MaXhosa by Laduma because I wanted to showcase the astonishing beauty of the Xhosa people and translate it in a modern way that actually appeals to the current youth that are being influenced by international trends.”
From his home in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Laduma locally sources his material using merino wool & mohair. South Africa, seen as the international mohair capital, is presently the world’s single largest producer of this flexible raw material – with over 1,000 mohair farmers in the Eastern province alone.
Laduma Ngxokolo has come a long way since starting his knitwear brand in 2010. His global accolades are stacking up:-
2016 Design Indaba Most Beautiful Object in South Africa Award
The creation of this stunning unisex shawl, won it a place in the ’10 Most Beautiful Objects In South Africa’ list (MBOISA). Designed in his signature style and made from 80% wool/20% mohair, this beautiful and versatile piece can be worn in more than twenty styles.
“I feel blessed and honoured to have been given an opportunity to have my creations singled out of thousands of amazing products in South Africa and be given the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa title”.
”All my icons are South African: Credo Mutwa, Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko. The patterns and motifs of MaXhosa by Laduma are specifically inspired by traditional Xhosa beadwork. After the Zulus, the Xhosa are the biggest cultural group in South Africa, and my brand interprets traditional Xhosa aesthetics in a modern context to capture the future African spirit.”
If you are in NY you have until 21st August 2016 to experience MaXhosa in an exhibition entitled ‘Beauty — Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial’, at the Copper Hewitt Museum. The fifth installment of the museum’s signature contemporary design exhibition series is the #DesignTriennial.
It is divided into seven themes: extravagant, intricate, ethereal, transgressive, emergent, elemental and transformative. This is where Laduma’s designs recently caught the eye of ‘Queen Bey’, as she recently visited the exhibition. She soon featured his knits on her blog.
What’s remarkable is the way that Laduma is able to consistently turn his inspiration, into product. He takes photos of traditional Xhosa beadwork designs and then manipulates them into digital designs using his computer. They are then passed to a manufacturing sampling studio for final design.
— KQutalWearSA (@Kqutalwearworld) May 24, 2016
The line is now worn globally and his latest 2016 Spring/Summer Collection is called Mtanom’gquba, which celebrates dark skin tones with contrasting bright hues to elevate the appreciation of colour diversity.
“The collection captures the beauty of being truly African and proud in a modern context that seeks an eternal way of communicating culture through fashion. It is completely different from my 2014 and 2015 collections, I used a pastel colour, black & white and dark contrast schemes.”
In 2014 Laduma was awarded the WeTransfer Scholarship to study for a Masters Degree in Material Futures at Central St Martins, London. He graduates in 2016. Laduma’s gorgeous knitwear, for both men & women, is a perfect fit for the weather in the UK.
You can shop his label online at:
At just 28, his talent is rapidly creating a bright future to his design journey, one that is propelling him around the Globe.
In spite all of his success so far, it actually feels as though it’s just the beginning for Laduma and his brand MaXhosa. By taking inspiration from his heritage, remaining on-trend and giving his garments universal appeal, he’s now bringing something new, different and dynamic to fashion.