Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Genuine Ingenuity updated. (published in PE VIbes)

Genuine Ingenuity

By Tina Smith

Laduma Ngxokolo
Photo by: Trevor Stuurman

This article won’t do Laduma Ngxokolo justice if I aimlessly list his accolades. A list of his accolades should be mentioned

Laduma’s first big feat was winning the Society of Dyers and Colourists  (SDC) International Design Competition in 2010. He travelled to London to compete against other entrants from around the world. He won it for his range “The Colourful World of the Xhosa Culture”. He designed the jerseys wanting something South African for Xhosa initiates ( Amakrwala), who have to buy a new set of clothing as they embark on their journey as men.

Amakwrala Range
Photo from MaXhosa website


Laduma took inspiration from Xhosa Beadwork that was on display during the 2010 Soccer World Cup at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum in Rink Street. When looking at his designs in this range- his drawings, motifs and jerseys, it is impossible not to be in awe. The patterns and textures that he has developed and worked with are so incredibly conceived.

Laduma explains the following about his 2012 Collection called Amakwrala:

“In 2010 I went on a journey to find knitwear design solutions for Xhosa initiates. My vision was to create a modern Xhosa-inspired knitwear collection that would be suitable for Xhosa initiates, who are prescribed by tradition to dress up in new dignified formal clothing for six months after initiation…. Along my journey I discovered a collection of traditional Xhosa beadwork with astonishing patterns and colours which I interpret into knitwear with a modern twist.”
(Quoted from the MaXhosa website. Found at:

Thus far he notes his biggest achievement as winning The Premium Young Designer’s Award for the Menswear category in 2014.
Laduma Ngxokolo is ingenious.  When you are with him, you wish you could see things through his eyes, get a glimpse of what he sees. He is an enigma and just being around him is inspiring. Laduma’s brain is an ever turning clog filled with colours, textures and ideas that many wish they could recreate. His talent is one of a kind.
His life is one busy blur. Eat, walk, ride, work- don’t play too much. Sometimes he is solemn and you can see his focus and ambition is an ever guiding staff on his path to success. 

One thing that strikes you about Laduma is the pride that he takes in his culture and how his life centres on that culture. Laduma chooses a South African restaurant in Cape Town for us to eat at. The restaurant, Woza serves traditional meals, such as tripe, vetkoek, steamed bread and beef stew at reasonable rates.
When I am walking down the road on the way to a restaurant with Laduma, he stops and looks at a man doing spiral art, his love for patterns is clear. He is intrigued by these spiral stencils, something I would have merely past without as much as a glance.

Woza Restaurant 
By Tina Smith

Laduma is committed to supporting the South African Textile Industry and his jerseys are made in the Western Cape. The yarn is also dyed in South Africa. The owner explains to me that there is one Knitwear machine that only makes Laduma’s jerseys. Although the machine and its yarns are a rather dull contrast with his richly coloured jerseys it is rather interesting to see the machine.

More recent affairs

Laduma’s 2014 Men Knitwear collection is called Buyel’mbo. He describes this range with great pride, explaining that Buyel’mbo “is a Xhosa term which speaks about celebrating Nostalgic Moments which we had as the Xhosa, before the Xhosa territory was colonized many years ago. So the collection, was basically- both the mens’ and womens range- a modern interpretation of me trying to showcase what I think Xhosa people would have been wearing if they were not influenced by the West”

He fantasizes about a world where Xhosa people had “minimal influence from the West”. Where Xhosa people still lived in the homelands in the Eastern Cape and were aware of Apple iPhones, Apple Macs, the internet but; still lived a “Xhosa styled”, traditional everyday life. He elaborates “I mean clothes, bags, shoes- everything done specifically for the Xhosa market”

 His title for his 2013 collection of jerseys is “My Heritage My Inheritance”. He notes in his speech at “What Design Can Do” that one of the most important things that his mother left him with is his inheritance.

The versatility of the jerseys add greatly to their worth. They could be worn formally or as street wear. The intricacy yet simplicity of his designs cannot be matched. 
In addition, Laduma is a talented speaker, offering clever anecdotes and engaging with his audience. His talks are straightforward, simple enough for the average person to understand and he always explains his design process well.

Laduma presented his Knitwear range at Oslo Trend in Oslo, Norway on 12 August. After which he went to New York to present a range of rugs he designed.

 He then embarks on a six month internship where he will be learning about the German Textile industry which is the prize he received for winning The Premium Young Designer’s award. The internship is done through the Westerwelle foundation.
To order a jersey from Laduma you can contact:

Laduma will be hosting an event in Port Elizabeth on Thursday 4 September at Havana Blu from 6pm to 9pm. The event is titled MaXhosa by Laduma Pop-up Shop and some items from his collection Buyel'mbo will be available for purchase.

You can keep track of what Laduma is up to in the following ways:
·         Watching his website Maxhosa,
·         By following him on Twitter, his handle is: @LadumaNgxokolo.
·         By following him on Instagram, @Laduma

·         Following his Facebook page MaXhosa By Laduma

You can read this article on PE Vibes at: