Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Interviewing Laduma!

East Cape Textile designer soars to glory

I feel proud to say Laduma Ngxokolo is my friend. I boast about him whenever I get the chance. Three years have past since I first met Laduma,our first meeting, is a fond memory that sticks out among the confusing and rough year I had in 2010.I had just started Fashion Design and I really did not know whether I was coming or going.

I came outside of the Fashion Department, the area outside was quite nice, with a tree and a bench. I had not spoken to Laduma before although there was a lot of hype about him. It was that year that he was chosen for the Colourers and Dyers international competition. He sat on the bench and i went to join him. He seemed to have the world on his shoulders and it was nice to sit and chat to him and have him open up to me, it was also nice for me to find a real friendship among many fake ones.

I can only ever remember kindness from Laduma. An apple when i was hungry, m&ms when I was about to go home on the bus. That meeting was the start of a special friendship for me. Laduma is extremely talented and yet he has never even jokingly come across as arrogant. Even though he has so much to be arrogant about he is extremely humble.


Laduma Ngxokolo is an up and coming textile designer from PE.

For our interview, I meet Laduma,at a reasonably quiet coffee shop. Probably two meters tall, Laduma towers over me he wears a brown cardigan, one of his signature items of clothing, his outfit is casual yet chic and modern.

He is soft spoken and I have to nudge the voice recorder closer to him on the table.

Laduma has spun onto the fashion scene, taking even England by storm. In 2010, he won the South African section of the South African Society of Dyers & Colourists competition. He was flown to London to take part in the international competition. His work was entitled ' The colourful world of the Xhosa Culture' - which featured five different jerseys inspired by traditional Xhosa beadwork. He outdid the seven other textile designers and walked away with the first prize. He dedicated this success to his late mother who taught him how to hand machine knit.

Laduma's range that won the International Colourist and Dyers Competition in 2010

After this success, he was invited to speak at the Design Iindaba in 2011. He also graduated from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) with his BTech degree in textile design.

Laduma has not had it easy; he is one of four siblings and was looked after by his single mother. However in 2001 his mother passed away and his older sister, Tina was left to look after them. "My mother didn't leave us with nothing, she taught us independence." he says.

The Independence their mother taught them is what has sustained the family. From an early age Laduma's mother taught him and his siblings craftwork. After his mothers death Tina began selling clothes to make ends meet. Both of his sisters are still at varsity and all four siblings pool together to pay for varsity fees. People often ask how their family survives, he says that he doesnt know how they do it, they just do. 

The jerseys Laduma made are intended for Xhosa initiates who have to get new clothes for their lives' as men. Laduma has noticed that many initiates return from the bush wearing western brands like Pringle or Guess. This line is intended for these initiates, to provide them with something authentic to wear. Laduma feels that the youth are not proud of their culture and this is something he aims to change.

Up and on. He says all the hype has been overwhelming. From having never left PE, to jetting over to London, he has been inundated by the media and recently had to redirect media questionairres to the East Cape Mohair Society. He has been featured in the Marie Claire magazine, interviewed by the Mail and Guardian, e news and an American journalist just to name a few.
This year rather than working for a textile company, Laduma is focusing on becoming an entrepreneur  Eventually he would like to have a textile factory opened up in the Eastern Cape where he could manufacture his jerseys.

When asked about his message for young aspiring designers, Laduma replies, "I'm a believer in hard work and I think if you work hard you can achieve just about anything that's possible. Work hard and work smart at the same time. " Lastly he says with a giggle, that it is his  hard work for which he is known.

Click here to go to Laduma's website