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Xhosa inspired knitwear is high fashion

Xhosa inspired knitwear is high fashion

South Africa

Designer label ‘MaXhosa by Laduma’ is bold, edgy knitwear inspired by beadwork from South Africa’s Xhosa community.

MaXhosa’s creator,a 30-year-old designer Laduma Ngxokolo, spent his childhood knitting with his mother, while other boys played soccer.

Now he has fans across the fashion world including, Beyonce.

When I went through the ritual, I realised that there was a gap which was missing, which was Xhosa inspired knitwear, which I felt was more relevant for Xhosa initiates.

His audacious use of colour and patterns is a re-imagination of Xhosa culture.

“When I went through the ritual, I realised that there was a gap which was missing, which was Xhosa inspired knitwear, which I felt was more relevant for Xhosa initiates. I came up with the concept of taking Xhosa traditional beadwork and then translate those patterns into modern patterns that is suitable for knitwear,“he said.

His designs can be found in stores in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, and also in Namibia and Europe. He also recently launched an online store.

“Since I started my brand I’ve realised over the years that people don’t buy my knitwear because of the function that it has like any other knitwear, people buy my knitwear because they want to make a statement,” he said.

MaXhosa was one of the critically acclaimed collections of the Lagos and Design Week held in October where designers from all over Africa showcased their work.

“He tells a story, his work is beyond what you see, it gets you involved I mean it gets you involved you want to know what the African story is immediately you see it and understand where he is coming from. It’s about heritage, it’s about tradition, you know it’s about how we can connect through a garment through what happens within a society, within an economy, within a country,” said Omoyeni Akerele, the founder of Lagos Fashion and Design Week.

MaXhosa knits are made from merino wool and mohair – a luxurious silk-like yarn from the hair of the Angora goat. It is produced widely in his home town of Port Elizabeth.

“Some of the challenges, common challenges as African emerging designers is that we face is 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.

Laduma’s unique mix of modern edges and culture have won him numerous national and international awards, including the prestigious 2015 Vogue Italian Scouting for Africa prize.

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