Luxury Connect Africa: Spotlight on MaXhosa
MaXhosa’s creative director, Tina Ngxokolo, attended the recently held Luxury Connect Africa event at Le Bristol Hotel in Paris. She gave a keynote address on behalf of her brother, Laduma Ngxokolo, who created the brand. Below are a few key points she shared with the audience.
The history behind MaXhosa
The Ngxokolo siblings were born into a family which was passionate about craftsmanship and culture. They were passionate about handcraft from crochet, knitting, sewing to hand-machine knitting. Out of all the handcraft they practiced at home, beadwork brought their family together. Their mom bought a few Xhosa anthropology books for them to learn the context behind the beadwork they created. When out shopping one day in a thrift store, she found a hand-knitting machine and purchased it. She told her children that she used to make custom items on a similar machine in the ’80s but she sold it when she got married.
On how the siblings complement each other
Laduma studied textile design while Tina studied fashion design. He would design the textile and Tina would design the garment out of the textile.
On Xhosa heritage
Laduma’s manhood circumcision ritual defined his life. It’s a traditional part of Xhosa culture. How men dress plays a great role in the ritual. Laduma loved the elegance of the Xhosa initiates. However, when he zoomed in on their dress code he thought “Xhosa initiates have been borrowing a Western gentleman’s dress code for decades”. Some of the brands they wore were imported from overseas. Something felt broken to him in this process. Clothing is part of a symbolism initiates use to express their transition [from boyhood to manhood] and sense of dignity. He asked himself whether that message would be better communicated with a contemporary traditional Xhosa aesthetic.
Laduma explored what aesthetic makes Xhosa culture and people outstanding. Through findings from books and local museum collections, traditional Xhosa beadwork from the late 18th and 19th century stood out to him. Laduma found a vast, extravagant collection of these pieces in the Nelson Mandela art museum during the South African World Cup in 2010. He photographed them and referenced the bold motifs, patterns and colour schemes. He even experimented with traditional Xhosa staple beads to create contemporary Xhosa inspired designs that sat perfectly on knitwear. After creating his first tangible product the MaXhosa brand was born.
Laduma “never imagined the brand would create pride and joy for a Zulu chap in Durban, a black British lad in London, a proudly Yoruba man in Lagos, and Afrikaans outie in Cape Town” to reference just some of the brand’s clientele.
On the brand’s IP
Laduma has always believed that in order to protect the manufacturing sector in South Africa, specifically, and Africa, in general, “we must innovate and own the IP and value chain”.
Laduma Ngxokolo will be speaking at the Conde Nast International Luxury Conference, 10 – 11 April 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa
MaXhosa’s Instagram handle is @MaXhosa