Fashion's prints charming, Laduma Ngxokolo, turns his hand to homeware
The international success of Laduma Ngxokolo’s growing brand — MaXhosa by Laduma — is due to a deeply grounded sense of who he is, where he’s come from and his big-picture plan
Laduma Ngxokolo's star is on the rise, and though most South Africans know him primarily for his dynamic street-meets-craft knitwear, which has put the instantly recognisable Xhosa aesthetic on the world map, he's a man of many facets.
A speaker at the recent Conde Nast International Luxury conference, held this year in Cape Town, and headlining 100% Design SA 2019 as its feature designer, he's considered a symbol of contemporary African design — whose vision includes his heritage in a fresh and relevant way.
So it makes sense that through his brand MaXhosa he's applied this beyond clothing and is heading down a broader new path. His homeware has the same graphic appeal and vibrant colour as his knitwear and accessories - the simple geometrics and bold hues lending themselves perfectly to textiles and wallpapers, products he's exploring now. And he's enjoying the relative freedom that homeware offers too.
"Designing homeware was an easy transition - it simply allowed the patterns to evolve and to live beyond the clothes. Fashion can be restrictive; you're limited by seasons and themes. Homeware allows us more freedom to play with colour," he says.
The appeal is global, and while the core inspiration is Xhosa beadwork, Ngxokolo's apparent joy in using primaries allows his pieces to speak a universal language of colour and pattern. "I feel that we are designing for a very intelligent consumer that understands the ethos behind the designs as well as the aesthetic. There is power in simplicity meeting beauty," he says.
A local success story is always celebrated and Ngxokolo believes his authenticity has people backing the brand. "I strive to be as authentic as I can. I draw from personal experience. I think people are interested in what is next for us and where we might end up because they are invested in seeing a homegrown brand succeed," he adds.
He applauds local designers like Thabisa Mjo for pushing the envelope and innovating a unique aesthetic but also reminding people of home. "Our culture is our biggest strength - I don't see enough design being used as an answer to the questions we have about our culture. We need to change this."