Celebrating 13 years, the MaXhosa brand has grown up. Largely informed by Xhosa beadwork patterns and symbols in striking hues, the label is known for its signature graphic knitwear. With Laduma Ngxokolo at the helm, MaXhosa is bold in its approach to showcasing African modernity while embracing heritage and culture.
The latest collection titled A.S.T.O (an acronym for African Space Travellers Organisation) maintains the fashion house’s DNA but reveals a slight departure, with futuristic, bold intergalactic graphics. Set against the backdrop of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa’s hollowed silos, there is an otherworldly aesthetic to the collection.
“While our largest consumer segment is still 30 to 60 years old, we are definitely looking towards the international trends coming from Gen Z, whether it’s the cut or print,” said Ngxokolo.
Speaking of the show’s title, he said: “I’ve been fortunate enough to travel Africa and Europe extensively. I lived in London for two years.
“During these travels I learnt to dress for the climate I was in. It taught me how to adapt my design style. I can confidently say that I can design for an East African or European customer. This idea of the travelling African is where the A.S.T.O acronym was birthed.”
Though the brand is proudly African, Ngxokolo sticks to a specific aesthetic where it pertains to his influence.
“We don’t want the brand to become a fruit salad for all African cultures. We retain a strong Nguni aesthetic. While the brand is called MaXhosa, ironically our second-largest consumer base is in KwaZulu-Natal. I believe that’s because there are elements of Zulu symbolism that seep through into the creative. If you know anything about Zulu culture, you’ll know that they are strong and proud nation, so to see the brand worn proudly at traditional Zulu events informs us there is a recognition of Zulu culture in our clothing.”
As a student at Nelson Mandela University, Ngxokolo had never left his province when he was approached by Ravi Naidoo to showcase his collection in front of more than 2,000 people in Cape Town. Ngxokolo’s first stand-alone store was opened at the V&A Waterfront, a huge feat for the groundbreaking designer. This is the first time the fashion house has held a solo showcase in the Mother City.