MaXhosa is a South African knitwear brand founded in 2012 by Laduma Ngxokolo. Born from a thesis project at the Nelson Mandela University, Ngxokolo wanted to create a ready-to-wear capsule collection that reflected his Xhosa heritage. He was inspired by Amakrwala, the tribe's traditional male initiation ceremony that marks the rite of passage from boyhood to manhood. Informed by traditional Xhosa beadwork patterns, symbols, and colours, Ngxokolo's signature aesthetic is conveyed in his contemporary, graphic knitwear collections. Speaking of the future of South African fashion to The Hollywood Reporter, the designer explained: “We, and a lot of brands [in South Africa,] are about moving out of the curio space—where it doesn’t belong—and creating a more refined, elegant way of presenting ourselves. We are destined to play a major part in the world through music, fashion and design.”
Each of Ngxokolo’s collections burn bright with geometric patterns and are filled with luxe woven separates in vivid hues like red, blue, yellow, and orange. The designer’s affinity for mohair, merino wool, and silk are evident in his every creation, and his offering has expanded over the years to include accessories and home decor that are as striking as his womens and menswear.
Since its launch, the label has amassed worldwide recognition and acclaim. Ngxokolo won the prestigious Vogue Italia “Scouting for Africa” prize in 2014 and had the chance to present his collections at the Palazzo Morando Show in Milan, Italy. He also received the 2014 WeTransfer scholarship to study Masters in Material Futures at Central St. Martins from which he graduated in 2016. Ngxokolo’s knits have been spotted on international celebrities such as Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, and South African Black Panther actor, John Kani, and in 2018, a MaXhosa cable-knit sweater was displayed as part of the Museum of Modern Art’s “Is Fashion Modern?” exhibition in New York City. Via his showings at South African Fashion Week, AFI Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, and other major events, the brand has cemented itself as a respected pillar of South Africa’s emerging design scene.
- Eastern Cape Entertainment Stars Award, Emerging Designer, 2016
- Design Indaba Most Beautiful Object in South Africa Award, Winner, 2016
- Yoox.com Who is Next Dubai Award, Winner, 2015
- Vogue Italia Scouting for Africa, Winner, 2015
- Africa Fashion International, Emerging Designer of the Year Award, 2015
- Premium International, Best Emerging Designer (for SS15 Menswear), 2014
- Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Rising Star Award, 2012
- Marie Claire Prix De Excellence, Best Emerging Designer Award, 2011
- International Society of Dyers and Colourists Design Award, Winner, 2010